Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Poor Pleky

In checking the latest Habs news around the 'net this morning, I came across an article in a Czech newspaper that features an interview with Tomas Plekanec. I was very worried about him going to arbitration because of the potential damage it would do to his relationship with the team. Then he avoided that by signing a one-year deal for 2.75 million; a nice raise and the show of respect from the team he said he was hoping to see. I thought it was all over, and things would be back on track for him now.

But reading today's interview is really discouraging, at least for someone who wants to see Plekanec bounce back and remain a Hab for a long time. In the story, he says he feels like he's on probation this year. He figures if he fails to have a great season, he'll be traded at the earliest opportunity. He says he's trying to put the uncertainty and the trade rumours out of his head and just focus on having a good season, because he enjoys Montreal and he'd like to stay. But although he's saying that, we know his confidence is a fragile thing and the uncertainty will undoubtedly weigh on his peace of mind this season. It's almost as though he's resigning himself to moving on next year, if he doesn't get traded during this season.

I know a lot of fans are ready to see the end of Plekanec. His last season wasn't great and his playoff performances, while as good as anyone else's on the team in the last couple of years, haven't been stellar. But Plekanec, given good linemates and a clean slate, is a very useful player who's more than capable of being a solid second centre. There's nobody else in the Habs' system who fills that void right now, or even the season after next unless Ben Maxell, Louis Leblanc or some surprise like Maxim Trunev can take on that role. And with Plekanec's current market value at an ebb, he's probably worth more to the Canadiens on his own than the return he'd bring from elsewhere.

He says he's looking forward to playing with his new teammates. I hope things work out for him, because the team needs him to be at his best. And he needs to prove to Gainey that he's worth the backing of a multi-year contract. A guy like Plekanec needs to be given confidence in order for him to be confident. Without that support from the team, he's going to feel like he's on trial all year, which will make for tough going this season. If he can perform under that kind of pressure, he should be able to quiet most of the doubting voices out there...including the one in his own head...about his ability to produce during tough times.

And maybe next year, the tone of the interviews he gives before camp will be much more upbeat. I just hope he's still a Hab when he's giving them.


AndyF said...

It still amazes that players don't hire a sports-psychology coach to get through those tough times.

A good coach will periodize the season into smaller bite-sized goals, and provide relaxation and motivational support.

It's a shame players don't use these very often...

saskhab said...

Plexo succeeds when he's not expected to produce. He wilts when he is expected to produce, or he expects himself to do so. He's got issues, that's for sure. I can only hope Martin can encourage him. If Plex gets over these issues, we'll know for sure it was a coaching issue that really plagued this team the last 3 years.

Unknown said...

actually, I remember both Higgins and Komi saying that they had someone like that during the off-season.

Higgins was even quoted as saying that this guy taught him how to visualize on per shift basis. So when he was on the bench he wasn't thinking about anything else but his next shift.

jeffery van den engh said...

yes Andy, they need a sports-head shrinker to go along with the hot tubs and foot rubs and dieticians and private jets and the millions on top of millions of dollars they get paid to play a sport they are suppose to love. The Rocket is rolling over in his grave.

Anonymous said...

You and I want the same thing: a winning team composed of good men that we can admire. Plekanec appears to fall into the category of good young men, but his invisible play during the playoffs does not help the team win at the most crucial time.

J.T. said...

@William: A lot of good that did Higgins. That guy thought he was great and never produced what he thought he would. I do think it's a confidence issue with Plekanec though. If a shrink would help, he certainly should look into it. I don't like the tone of resignation that he'll probably be gone out of Montreal in his interview though.

Topham said...

Hear, hear.

Plekanec is still the player we all felt thrilled to have stumbled upon in 2006-07. The only difference is the unrealistic expectation that 2007-08 will happen for him perennially.

He's great on fundamentals, is willing to work and scores 20 goals in a bad year.

If he's not worth keeping, who is?

DB said...

If Pleks was the only Hab who played poorly because of low confidence then I would agree with his critics. However, prolonged slumps from lost confidence have been endemic on the Habs over the last few years (Ryder, Samsonov, Higgins, O'Byrne, Price, etc).

This suggests a coaching problem. What specifically? I believe Carbo was impatient and easily frustrated with players in slumps. He was like someone who shows you how to do a task and if you don't immediately do it right, they jump in and do it themselves. Thus hurting your confidence and future performance.

Whether I'm right or not about the cause of the slumps doesn't really matter now. What does is that there a few Habs (Pleks, Price, O'Byrne) whose confidence Martin will need to rebuid in order to have a successful season.

Unknown said...

he'll be fine, Martin is a social coach and will work with him.

Yves said...

I really hadn't thought too much about it... but Martin might just be what the doctor ordered for Plekanec.

A good coach will know how to use his players taking in consideration their strengths and their weaknesses.

I got carried away hearing all these blasted rumours. I'm kind of annoyed at just how much "speculation" there is out there sometimes. And most of it is likely gibberish.

I'm gonna root for Pleks.

PETERV said...

Poor, poor Plekanec. "A guy like Plekanec needs to be given confidence in order for him to be confident. Without that support from the team, he's going to feel like he's on trial all year, which will make for tough going this season. If he can perform under that kind of pressure..." If he can perform under that kind of pressure, he'd be just like most working stiffs who don't make millions of dollars to play a game. Pressure, you've got to be kidding. The guy has a guaranteed contract, a pension when he turns 45 healthcare, all paid by the team. How is that pressure? How do you figure a team has to kiss a player's butt so that he will feel "comfortable"? Wake up and live in the real world.