Monday, October 5, 2009

Prelude To a Trade?

It seems Kostitsyn the Younger is now willing to take his medicine and report to the Bulldogs. After several days of being AWOL and stubborn about it, it makes you wonder what or who finally got through to him. RDS was reporting earlier today that Sergei had delivered an ultimatum to the Canadiens: he'd either be traded this week or defect to the KHL. He gave an interview to a Russian journalist last week claiming bafflement about the reasons for his demotion and disillusionment with the Canadiens.

So, what happened in the meantime to change his mind? Maybe it was his agent. Don Meehan would presumably miss out on any kind of percentage from a questionably legal KHL contract, so maybe he tried to talk sense to the kid. Maybe it was the KHL. Perhaps the Russian league is actually honouring its agreement not to poach players currently under NHL contracts, and they told Sergei he's got no job there. Maybe his brother did it. Perhaps Andrei reminded Sergei about the fact that he paid his dues in Hamilton for a good long time and got rewarded with a nice contract in the NHL. It could have been his parents or Bob Gainey. Maybe one of the authority figures in his life got through to him and made him realize he's got a bright future ahead, if he accepts the roadblocks now. Or maybe he did a little soul searching and realized he's at least partially responsible for the fix in which he now finds himself and it's up to him to own up to that and apologize by reporting to Hamilton.

Maybe it's any one or a combination of those things. Or maybe it's as simple as Gainey telling Kostitsyn that he doesn't get the trade he wants unless he proves he's not a complete idiot first by reporting to Hamilton. No NHL GM is going to offer much for a guy who's a problem child. If Sergei's reputation is that of a guy who won't tow the line or listen to a respected coach like Jacques Martin, and if he appears to be willing to threaten a team with defection when he doesn't get his way, his value is pretty much next to nothing. If, however, he goes to Hamilton and appears chastened, while putting up some good numbers in the AHL, his value goes up and Gainey might get something decent for him. I think this scenario is the most likely.

I'd like to believe that Sergei Kostitsyn has learned a valuable lesson about entitlement and responsiblity. I'd like to think he's apologetic and ready to come back into the fold with a better attitude and the determination to prove himself. But I don't believe it. I think Gainey, Meehan and Kostitsyn have struck a deal to have Sergei report, play enough games to up his value and have Gainey quietly ship him out of Montreal. Not that I think Sergei has cut ties with the Habs, as much as I think Gainey has mentally cut ties with him. Bob's not the kind of guy to take disloyalty lightly, and this is the epitome of disloyalty in the NHL.

We'll see how it plays out, but I have a strong feeling this is the first line in the last chapter of Sergei Kostitsyn's story as a Hab. And it's too bad. I like his talent, and now that Max Pacioretty is proving that he's not ready for the NHL yet, he could be helpful. Just not at the cost of giving in to a childish tantrum.


Raphaƫl P. said...

On Cyberpresse's article on the matter I found this bit quite revealing:

"Kostitsyn devait toucher un salaire de 585 000 $ avec le Canadien, salaire auquel s'ajoutent des primes potentielles de 265 000 $.

Avec les Bulldogs, il touchera un salaire de 65 000 $."

For those who don't speak French, basically it says that Kostitsyn's salary with the habs is half a million give or take a couple of bonuses and with Hamilton it's 65 000$.

For me this might just be the crux of Kostitsyn's protest....

Also, with all that's been written on Kostitsyn, I can't believe a sane GM somewhere would be daft enough to *not see a couple of games in Hamilton and apparent contrition as anything other than pure BS.

...Of course, there are always those "special cases" across the league *cough* -Islanders *cough* *cough*...

Andrew Berkshire said...

I think you're right the the strongest possibility is that he'll be traded after playing a few games in the minors, but I'm not so sure that it's as concrete as many think.

Mathieu Carle did nearly the same exact thing, with even less success at the pro level to use as leverage, and he's still with the organization. It's entirely possible that Sergei could stick with the Canadiens.

DB said...

Sergei may mature, like Chris Pronger did, and become a star or he may party too much, like Jacques Richard did, and end up wasting his talent.

Good luck Bob in trying to figure out which way Sergei will go.

A little background on Pronger and Richard.

Pronger struggled during his first few seasons in Hartford because of lax training and a few minor run-ins with the law. It wasn't until he went to St Louis and Mike Keenan got a hold of him that he learned the importance of hard work. His career took off after that.

The Atlanta Flames made Richard the second overall pick in 1972 believing he had the potential to be the next Lafleur. Most seasons he only put up 30 points or so because he partied too much. However, there was one season where he achieved his potential. In 1980/81 he cleaned up his act and scored over 50 goals and over 100 points for Quebec. Unfortunately, he went back to his old ways the next season and had only a few more 30 point years in the NHL.

J.T. said...

@Raphael: I agree, any GM would see Kostitsyn's "contrition" as reeking of BS. BUT, if he goes to Hamilton and proves he can put up a lot of points, he'll increase his trade value regardless. There are always GMs who salivate at the thought of adding talent, and are willing to overlook character flaws to get it.

@Andrew: I think the Mathieu Carle trade request was debunked as a myth last year. Carle himself and his agent have denied it publicly, and the "news" itself seemed to originate on a couple of internet speculation sites.

E said...

oh sergei, i was so very infatuated with him. it's clear the kid's got an attitude problem, but on the ice, that was sort of charming- a little swagger isn't entirely useless in a young player. unfortunately, it's become too much swagger and too little sense. what concerns me is the impact of this whole sideshow on his trade value. now that he's seen as difficult, now that other gms think bob is under pressure to lose the kid, the habs might find themselves getting lower offers than they might have otherwise. i only hope that gainey doesn't rush it- sergei's not golden, but he's got value, and bob can afford to wait for a useful offer here.

pfhabs said...


-no idea how old you are nor how much you've read of the CH teams of the past...if we traded talented players because of character flaws and attitude we would have jetisoned; Keane, Corson, Chelios, Roy, Lafleur and a pile of others

they get paid to perform on the ice not be good marriage material for your daughter, sister etc

yes SK needs some maturity and I'm sure he'll get it but to trade him as a knee jerk reaction because he doesn't fit an apple polisher view of the world (Corey trading Chelios) or to get rid of a bad seed (Gainey trading Riberio)is foolish if the ultimate goal is to win games

as for his teammates don't kid yourself there are enough vets to kick his ass into line and any negative influence is minimal nothwithstanding Martin's sacrosanc touchie feelie sessions

but I expect Bob to fold

Andrew Berkshire said...

Montreal DID trade everyone you listed except Lafleur.

pfhabs said...

yes they did and how brilliant were those decisions...that's the point

two points, say hi to the straight line