So, lots of people believe Bob Gainey was asleep at the wheel because he didn't make a big splash at the trade deadline. I think there are two ways to look at it. The first one is that Gainey did what he needed to do in getting veteran experience, a steady D and help for the anemic PP in the person of Mathieu Schneider. And he did it early enough that trade deadline frenzy didn't bump the price out of reach for the Canadiens. The second way to look at it is that there are so many areas that need improvement, from the centre position with the absence of Robert Lang, to the defence with the underperformance of Ryan O'Byrne and Mike Komisarek this season, that a couple of deadline tweaks would have cost a lot and not really made a difference.
I look at it this way: Bob Gainey made a couple of sensible moves in the acquisitions of Schneider and Glen Metropolit in the last couple of weeks. He knows what we know, that the only way the Canadiens win the Cup this year is if they get super-hot goaltending, every player on the team consistently playing his best and the hefty dose of luck a Cup winner needs. Trading, say, Chris Higgins or Alex Kovalev for any of the players who moved today, aside from Olli Jokinen, would have taken more away from the team than the new guys would add. I mean, I like Mark Recchi, but the Bruins paid the equivalent of Ryan O'Byrne and Kyle Chipchura for him. That's steep.
Gainey really made his deadline moves last summer when he acquired Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang for picks. It's not his fault those players got long-term injuries, negating all his work. There were few players on the market today of the calibre of those guys, so throwing still more picks and prospects away to bring in lesser-tier players to replace them...basically paying double to fill the same spots with less talent...doesn't make sense. Sometimes, you have to accept that you rolled the dice and you lost, and then you stop putting your money on the table. Gainey rolled the dice last summer, the injuries cost him, and now he has to admit this isn't the year to load up and stop throwing assets away.
That said, I think the Canadiens as they are can play a much better brand of hockey than we've seen on most nights to date. If they can live up to their own potential, they could surprise some people. And when Alex Tanguay comes back, it'll be like adding a top-line winger to a team that's starting to finally pull together. That's better than any deadline deal I saw today. When Guillaume Latendresse comes back, the team acquires a hard-working, big winger who brings out the best in Maxim Lapierre and rounds out a third line that was giving opponents fits before Lats' injury.
I hope the passing of the deadline without big changes means the team can put that huge distraction away and look inward for inspiration. Because when it comes down to it, a GM can tinker all he wants to put talent on the ice, but winning comes from the players themselves. The players in the CH sweaters have talent...there's no doubt of that. Whether they have the guts, determination and heart to win is up to them.
How they play in these next three road games will give us a good indication if a little job security gives the Canadiens some new life. That could be the best thing that comes out of Bob's quiet deadline.