Thursday, March 4, 2010


Okay, you can come out now. Those of you who, like me, were dreading some kind of stupid Canadiens trade of future assets in a (very possibly) vain attempt to make a playoff run this year can take our heads out of the sand again. I'm a long way from being a Pierre Gauthier fan, but at least he didn't cripple the team's future before yesterday's trade deadline. It can even be argued that the D'Agostini trade was a small step in helping strengthen the club's assets. I know it's a little bit pathetic that the best we can hope for is that our team's GM isn't a raving idiot, but there you go.

So this is the team we will see face the remaining eighteen games on a very uncertain playoff journey. I'm not completely buying management's explanation that bringing Mike Cammelleri back will be like adding a forty-goal scorer to an already-cohesive team during the final stretch, but I'm not completely disregarding that idea either, pending the outcome of the next three games out west.

At this point, the Canadiens can't finish low enough in the standings to make much of a difference in the draft sweepstakes, so the playoffs must be the goal. To that end, it's as much of a crapshoot post-deadline as it was before. The good news is, it's not just the Canadiens who stood pat among teams walking the fence between buyer and seller territory. None of Tampa, Philly or the Rangers made any bold moves. Boston exchanged one okay defenceman for another slightly more okay defenceman. All the weaknesses those teams displayed before yesterday are still there. It still baffles me that Philly didn't acquire a goalie, but it's nice to see their Achilles heel is still in nets.

All in all, the trade deadline was a giant borefest for all involved. Loser-point-inflated artificial parity means there were very few teams ready to admit they're out of the playoffs already, so nobody was selling much in the way of roster players. And it seems NHL GMs are starting to realize the value of draft picks (memo to Gauthier on this issue: Pay Attention!!) and most held onto their higher selections. Only Washington's George McPhee, who's pretty much signalling to the rest of the league that his team is winning the Cup this year or will die trying, parted with picks to acquire support players for their playoff run. Some teams already stacked with young talent gave up a pick here or there, as well as, inexplicably, Atlanta. Then again, you can't judge the general sentiment among GMs by anything Don Waddell does or does not do with the Thrashers. The paucity of talent lining up for this year's free agent market also kept most GMs to the conservative side of the trade market. They're beginning to realize locking up their own talent is probably a better idea than trying to buy someone else's in July.

For me, the biggest mistake of deadline day was by the TV sports networks. Did we really need to have nine hours and a dozen "analysts" devoted to breaking the Belanger-for-a-pick deal? Things are changing in the NHL and you're not going to see the big deadline splashes we saw in years past. It was shocking to see the people who should be most plugged into the mood in the league completely miss that point. TSN would have been better served by going to air an hour before the deadline and staying on for half an hour after, as nothing remotely interesting happened before that anyway.

Overblown coverage aside, a quiet deadline day is about the best we could have realistically expected as Habs fans. With only picks, prospects, a goalie or a core player holding any trade value, the team would be poorer for losing any of those assets. The Canadiens will live or die with the roster they have and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If their season is done by mid-April nobody will be surprised, but if they do actually manage to get healthy and step up their team game, it could make for an exciting and fun stretch drive. Either way, we can rest in the knowledge that management wasn't stupid enough to trade tomorrow's improvement for today's stagnation.

And, somtimes, not stupid is enough.


Peter said...


I read all your posts, they are very well written and make me laugh. Thanks.

With respect to your worries over the GM and his possible idiocy I think there is something deeper to consider than what you see on the surface - ie the signings and trades. Consider the heavy weight of the ownership on his and Boivin's back. Consider how badly the ownership - especially one as debt laden as the Molsons - want/need playoff revenue. I am a business owner and the cold hard facts of P&L statements need to outweigh feelings and emotions when making business decisions. That said, I realize that in the world of sports there have been and will continue to be owners who spend without regard to the P&L.... they act more like fans than business owners. We don't know exactly how the Molsons are running this team, whether as fans or strictly as a business, but I would bet that based on their debts they don't have the freedom to choose. They must meet their obligations and if the extra millions of playoff revenue ensure that they cover their bills well you can draw a straight line from that to the actions of the GM.... So what I am trying to say is that you cannot judge him as though he operates independent of the organization with the freedom to make hockey moves. It would be great if he did because then we could be sure he would try and improve the team to win a stanley cup. Then you could easily judge whether he is more like an Houle or a Blake.

kyleroussel said...

I agree on all points. In my mind, Gauthier has now taken a 2-1 lead in the good vs bad move game; The bad side took the lead with Moore for a 2nd rounder, then the good side came back with the D'Agostini trade, and inactivity yesterday.

High fives all around, because, as you said: sometimes not stupid is enough. It'll do for now. I'll even extend yesterday's inactivity to July 1st. I'm not expecting Gauthier to be a major player then either. Barring a trade at the draft, we shouldn't expect to see Gauthier signing any major talent once the frenzy begins.

As for the TV coverage, I have also been very critical of it. For years now, deadline day has been a bore, relatively speaking. It's hard to imagine that anything can be as anti-climactic as yesterday's. If TSN, Sportsnet, RDS, etc, are going to continue to blow the trading deadline out of proportion, then they need to rethink how they do it. I can't imagine watching hour after hour of inane breakdowns of irrelevant trades. I would literally rather shovel the driveway or mow the lawn. Perhaps these networks would do well to try and get viewers involved, either by including some sort of twitter ticker of fan reaction, or taking emails or something. The way it is currently set up is painful to watch. We know the analysts don't want to talk about D'Agostini for Palushaj, and it's sad to watch them try to fill hour after hour with "valuable" commentary on things that nobody cares about.

Yanne said...

It's probably the only time I'll ever say this, but I have to agree with Brian Burke on one thing (!): He said a while back that he would like to see reinstated the possibility of trading players while splitting their remaining salaries...

I guess I sort of like the cap idea which makes teams do only as good as their GMs and not solely because of the cash it can dish out, but this would really facilitate player movement and as fans, that's what we want.

Oh, and it would give us a chance to get (partially) rid of the Gomez contract...

Anyway, I guess it's the players who want to make it difficult, and I can understand why, but with all these bad contracts and these no movement clauses, the fans have to deal with all their GMs errors (stupid or plain unlucky), for a long long time...

Paul B. said...

I realize that coverage of the sports networks was an overkill but would you rather watch a) some strong men competition, b) a poker tournament c) curling, bowling or any similarly TV user friendly exciting sports ???

I seem to be the only person on earth to believe that Dominic Moore is well worth a 2011 second round pick. I know he can hardly be confused with a sniper but like Mathieu Darche, I think he's a real third/fourth line player much more valuable than Lapierre, Dagostini, Pacioretty ( at this stage of his carreer) and most other guys we've had this year. Given the choice, I'd even pick him over Metropolit.

DB said...

Being not stupid was good enough for me. It clearly wasn't for some over at HIO who posted over-the-top comments like:

1. Trading D'Ags proves how bad Montreal's drafting and development has been. Yeah right, having the 190th overall pick in 2005 (out of 230) make the NHL and then have another team give up one of their top prospects for him is a sign of bad drafting.

2. The deadline proved Gauthier is a bad GM because he didn't dump any big contracts like Hamrlik's and Spacek's. Funny thing is no other GM was able to dump any contracts the size of Hamrlik's and Spacek's. Guess that makes them all bad GMs.

An all day trade deadline show seems like overkill to me, but it must get the ratings because they do it every year.

I like Dominic Moore as a player, I just think a second round pick was too much. I would have been satisfied with giving up a third round pick.