Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Deadline? What deadline?

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.


dougmartinmd said...

Hey JT - I don't know if you're staying away from all things posting at HI/O but I just wanted to say how much I've enjoyed reading your stuff. Happily, I can still do it here. I do believe that, if time permits (and, let's face it, you find the time for this site), you should think about how you can add print/internet journalism to your life. You're a wonderful and hilarious writer as well as a very insightful fan. I read your "10 things" post to my parents who are NOT hockey fans just because of the imagery and my entire family enjoyed it. Good luck to you.

J.T. said...


Thanks for that. I hesitated before putting that post on HI/O because of the obvious accusations I'd get about trolling for cash from the Gazette. Honestly, I couldn't care less about getting paid by them. I knew there was no money when I signed on and wasn't expecting that to change. I just thought it'd be fun. But I find myself sitting here now, waiting to see if the axe will fall on my job, much as the print writers are these days. And I realized how pissed I'd be if my employer were accepting free contributions and negating the need to have paid employees. That made my mind up for me. Some of the idiot commentators I encountered just helped make it easier.

But, to answer your first, I love HI/O. I'll still be posting as a regular poster like everybody else.

punkster said...

Re: your decision to stop Other Wing contributions. A noble gesture. Given the power of the internet I believe print journalism has a grim future. But good writers will always be sought after. You're a good writer.

Scott in Montreal said...

I knew from your profile on HI/O you work in media and I just assumed the Other Wing space they put up must have been paying work. Especially given the monstrous number of hits, the site they have should be a money maker at a time their print edition is going terminal.

That said, you provided the most balanced and professional commentary - often showing up Boone as a hack himself - without the press credentials or ability to schmooze with all the others in the press gallery.

For Boone, who cut his teeth at the Gazette back in the 70s as the radio and TV columnist - and never dignified himself as a city columnist since going over there in the nineties IIRC - the hockey commentary is a career renaissance. He can finally showcase his quick wit and easy-going writing style.

But he's on staff!!

Anyway, I'm glad you made your stand and I hope you are at least able to benefit from the exposure you got while volunteering. You are a wonderful, inspiring writer with a gift for finding clever analogies. And your female (motherly) perspective in this male-dominated arena just makes your insights that much more refreshing.

Good luck.

Mr. Mills said...

Hey J.T.

Regarding your HI/O decision, I appreciate your prinicipled stance. Kudos for putting ideals before fame.

I've my own concerns regarding the site and your column was not one of them.

I'll be by this site everyday like usual to get your take on all things habs.


HF29 is not here but if he was he would say... said...

Hey JT

Let me add my voice to the chorus of "right fucking on!!!" for your stance over at HI/0. Agree with you 100%. The only respect I have for them is that they actually let you publish that!