Friday, May 22, 2009

Komo! Don't Go!

Okay, now that my anger at Mike Komisarek's lousy play in the second half of the past season has dissipated, I'm scared. I don't want him to walk away from the Canadiens for nothing. In fact, I don't want him to walk away at all.

I remember his draft, and how exciting it was to have the Habs pick in the top ten. It was great to see the team take a massive, physical defenceman with some skill because one had been needed for a such long while. I remember his first couple of up-and-down pro seasons when he bounced between Hamilton and Montreal. I rooted so hard for him to find his game and stick with the big team. Then his breakout season two years ago when he began to emerge as a force on the ice and a leader in the room. I've discovered you can't watch a prospect become a player that closely without becoming attached to him.

I know Komisarek doesn't bring everything you'd ideally want in a big, strong, top-pairing defenceman. He can hit, but he offers next to nothing offensively and fumbles the puck quite often. He blocks a ton of shots, but he's not a very good fighter. He's a respected leader among his teammates and loved in the community, but his style of play makes him susceptible to injury. Now we're looking at losing him. I don't like the thought of it for a lot of reasons; primarily because even though he's not perfect, the things he does provide aren't in great abundance on the team. Even if he doesn't have the best outlet pass, if he leaves, the team loses size, hitting and shot-blocking from the defence. And there's not a lineup of players out there who can do those things willingly and well either within the Habs' system or in the free-agent pool this summer. (Unless, of course, Ryan O'Byrne suddenly blossoms.)

Almost as important, it's so rare for the Canadiens to draft and develop a first-rounder as well as they have with Komisarek it's a good idea to hold onto them. There's that attachment of the fans to the player I mentioned already, but there's also a slight advantage in having a player who knows only the Montreal environment. There's a better chance he'll put up with the crap involved in playing for the Habs than a player who's got another NHL experience with which to compare it.

Of course, the problem is cost. I was dead-set on not giving Komisarek more than four million bucks a year on a four or five-year deal. I figured comparable players in the league make around that much, if not less. But now I concede Komo's intangibles...leadership, personality, tolerance for crap...make him more valuable to the Habs than does his skillset alone. For that reason, I wouldn't be entirely pissed if Gainey were to offer Komisarek a little more than four million. I'd give him a generous offer to show the team's goodwill. Then, it's up to him.

I hope he wants to stay in Montreal. I think he'd leave a big hole if he left. And I hope he'd be willing to accept a deal that makes sense for both sides. If, however, he demands the moon and is willing to go to a loser team with lots of cap space to get it, I reserve the right to take back the nice things I've said about him. Because, if a guy the Habs have drafted, groomed and developed can't be bothered to stick around, that does not bode well for the organization's future.


Mike said...

If Mark Streit wasn't woth $4M, then there is no way Montreal will be in the hunt for Komisarek and his demands for $5M. It's a shame Gainey has left this team in this position for a third consecutive season.

I question Komisarek's ability to work in the corners. The Lucic fight and subsequent injury changed his play. Until he avenges Lucic's stunt, he will be dogged about his abilities in the corner and questioned about his toughness.

Weber and Stewart, unless we can trade for Streit, look like much better bets for the future.

Howard said...

I can only imagine how good Komo could be had he been tutored by a defensive coach, the likes of Big Bird or Lappy. That he managed to succeed despite having no mentor persay is testament to his natural talent. Sure he regressed this year in comparison to last and no one was really sure what happened after the fight with Lucic but pound for pound and round for round one of the most solid defencemen you can get. I hope we resign him...that's you Bob!

pierre said...

I thought Andre Savard made a wise decision picking Komi 7th overall in 2001, above the unique package he represented he also was right handed.... in short this guy was worthy of being groomed with care so as to make him a CH for life.

In my book our organization rushed him to early in the NHL, he should have spended at least two full year in Hamilton and shouldn't have been asked to be our 7th defenseman during our 2003 season.... promoting Beauchemin instead that season seemed a more natural choice to me since he already had played 3 years in the AHL.

The D position in the NHL is serious matter and a poor place to refine or try to incorporate new alphabets in your limited prose.... once there performing well within your reach is all that is expected of you.... its a poor environment to grow in and that is why D prospects are notoriously late to get in there compared with the forwards.

The lock-out season of 2004 was a blessing in disguise for Komi's developpement and there was our chance to fine tune the beast's skills a notch or two further..... all in vain since Komisarek only played 20 games in Hamilton that season.... it was a waste opportunity and one which I cant understand.... was he injured ?

In our present conjoncture the decision about Komi as to be pragmatic..... keeping him for sentimental reasons wont erase the fact that our present oganization has been wasting our own drafted players one way or another since 2003..... Beauchemin, Hainsey, Ribeiro, Streit, Ryder, Grabowski and Perezhogin ( although this one might have been unavoidable).

Could Komisarek developpe his game still and could he instanteneously fare better under a better coached team playing under a better system than what we had here thus far under Carbo..... thats very possible but then again.... where are we going ? what are we ? to many conjunctures... which should be clear signs that we have not been served well over the years by this present organization.

Thus far, our team's overall puck possession game noticably improved whenever Komi was out dû to injuries.... elements were lost but gains were made too.... as it stand such equation would preclude over-paying to keep him here..... I doubt that he would play here for like 3 fifth of its value like Streit was.

Markov, Harmlik, Schneider, Gorges, Dandenault, O'Byrne,

Not signing Komi could bring in a more complete D player than he is if using all of the saved money.... or just a solid one at the fraction of the price..... on the other hand this money could also be used to spend on our forwards because as it stand we are in a state of flux aren't we ?

Number31 said...

Problem with Komo is his agent... If he leaves, it isn't by his own choice but by how he's just letting the guy make the choice... From listening to Streit talk about how proceedings went with his own contract signings, it's the same thing. (Streit mentioned he'd have stayed in Montreal even if they had offered him less than what the Islanders offered, however if a player doesn't open his mouth and tell his agent or the organization this, then they'll never know about it and just assume the guy wants the jackpot).

J.T. said...

@Howard: I completely agree. There's no coincidence that the teams that operate under a strong defensive system, regardless of the comings and goings of individual players, have proper defensive coaches. Jersey has Larry Robinson (sob) and Jacques Laperriere. Detroit is run by former D-men McCrimmon and Babcock. Montreal has needed similar instruction on the backend for a long time, and needs it even more now, with the crop of young D-men coming up.

@Number31: I think that's a bit naive. I know some players look at their agents as friends and perhaps let them have more influence over decisions than an employee should have. But in the end, the decision is the player's to make. I highly doubt Mark Streit was silently pining by the telephone, hoping Bob Gainey would phone him up and offer him a contract. If he wanted to play in Montreal, which I believe he did, I'm sure everyone, including Gainey, knew about his desire. Gainey didn't want him back...bottom line. I think it was a big mistake on Bob's part, but there you go.