Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Brain Is Wider Than the Sky

The brain is wider than the sky...for put them side by the other will contain...with ease and You beside...

Emily Dickenson wrote that about the nature of the human mind. I thought of that the other day, when I tried to put myself inside Bob Gainey's head and figure out what the hell he's been thinking.

I still hate the Gomez trade for the salary and the loss of Ryan McDonagh. BUT, when I tried to put myself in Gainey's mind, I saw some sense in it. Mike Cammalleri has said he signed with the Canadiens partly because of the fact that Gomez will be his centre. Apparently, despite the fact that Gomez has put up so few goals in the last three seasons, wingers think he's elite and they want to play with him. So, obviously Gainey was working to bring in an impressive centre. He, by all accounts, was trying to trade for Lecavalier...but the lousy ownership situation in Tampa put the kibosh on that. So then he looked around at other candidates for the number-one centre job. Jordan Staal (my favourite) is talented but unproven in a leading role, and probably not available after the Cup win. Jason Spezza has serious questions about his heart in tough situations. Briere has health questions, as well as concerns about his interest in being in Montreal. Olli Jokinen also has questions about his attitude. So, outside those five guys, there really weren't a whole lot of guys who would fit the number-one centre role who were also available. That left the nasty cap situation in New York, and the fact that Sather had to dump someone. It's true that Gainey's taking on a really horrible, ill-thought out contract, but as a player, Gomez is good.

He's certainly not worth the money the Habs will be paying, but he does actually have skills. He can pass like Tanguay and he's faster than Dandenault. He's small, but fearless, and he's tough enough to play Jersey's style and not get hurt very often. I hate his contract, but I like Gomez. So, Gainey got a first-line centre (or at least the possibility of one) and then he advertised to the wingers in the free-agent market. Cammalleri, arguably the most-coveted first-line winger available, bought into Gainey's plan because he'd be playing with Gomez. Then, when Kovalev dithered on the Habs' offer, Gainey grabbed Gionta, in the hopes that he'd rekindle his previous chemistry with Gomez. Overall, not a bad plan.

A whole lot is going to be riding on the hope that the newly assembled first line can actually perform as hoped. If they don't, I expect Gainey to be gone. BUT...I expect there's every hope that they will perform. They're proven performers, and, given the right linemates, there's no reason why they shouldn't put up some numbers. Then it's up to the second line to support them. Given the assumption that Plekanec and the Kostitsyns can't be worse than last year, there's a good chance things will improve in the secondary scoring department.

I admit, I've lost some respect for Bob Gainey because of his personal dealings with people like Don Lever, Mark Streit and Saku Koivu. But, in the end, he knows hockey. And I think he may have something when it comes to the lineup he intends to ice in the fall.

1 comment:

DB said...

Boy it really would be nice to know what went on with the Habs this past year.

I thought that Carbo was a big part of the problem. This was based on the team having two major slumps during his tenure and the large number of players who had prolonged slumps. Kovy had 2 bad years, Samsonov and Ryder had career worst years and ended up in the doghouse. Pleks, Higgins, Price, O'Byrne, Komi, Gorges, and the Kostitsyns regressed this past year.

To me Ryder, Samsonov, Pleks and Higgins all seemed to be playing the same way during their bad seasons. They did a lot of skating without accomplishing a lot.

I also looked at how many young players showed steady improvement under Carbo. Laps and Lats are the only two I can think of.

But I guess Bob thought the problem was deeper than coaching. I feel that his stint behind the bench was when he decided it was time to clean house. The fact that the team did not win another game after Markov was injured was probably the last straw and likely put Bob in a surly mood. When Kovy made one too many moves with his contract negotiations he got to meet Surly Bob.

Whether Surly Bob's moves will work will be revealed next year.