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» 2010 » September

  • The Waiting Game

    Like anybody who lives and breathes hockey during the regular season, I have a love-hate relationship with the summer. I love sitting on a patio somewhere in the warmth of the July sun, with good beer, music, and friends. But there is a certain time in mid-to-late-August where I start to get a feeling in my gut that hockey will be just around the corner. Having a long, warm summer has helped to stave off the feeling this year, but I have to admit that in reading all of the reports for rookie and training camps across the league – I’m fully ready for the season to begin. September kills me. As soon as the night air gets a certain chill, my brain automatically craves hockey. For now we’ll have to be content with reading about this player or that who impressed a writer in the stands at practice. We hear about this player or that who spent the summer training in this new way, or relaxing somehow else. Its mainly all talk. Everyone goes into a new season trying to get off to a new and better start, but there are a few guys each year who shut their mouths and get down to it.

    One guy I’m looking really closely this season is Maxime Lapierre. Laps has talked the talk in past seasons, finding a way to play himself onto, and almost off of the every-day roster. He was hampered by an ankle injury last season that literally crippled his game  which is based on his ability to skate tirelessly. This is just a personal hunch – but I’m of the opinion that Max actually gets it this year. He saw first hand how close he was to losing his spot last year and parlayed that renewed energy (once his ankle healed) into a damn good playoff run. People talk about the need for Carey Price to step up this season – but a healthy, functional, and mature Maxime Lapierre could do wonders for a team that needs its players with size to step up. I’m not saying he needs to score, but youth can no longer be a crutch for him. When he’s on his game he is an infusion of work ethic and energy - which the Habs will need to  be successful this year. If Max can find a way to contribute every night, he’ll give Jacques Martin the ability to roll his lines better than last year.

  • Price’s new deal – and another reason why...

    So Carey Price signed a two year deal yesterday. Contrary to the garbage and innuendo that has been brought up over the past few months in the media and amongst our fanbase about Price wanting out of Montreal or threatening a lengthy contract holdout, he signed on the dotted line ensuring that he will remain a Canadien for two more years. After those two seasons he will still be an RFA, although with arbitration rights.

    The two sides never publicly wavered in their belief that a deal would be in place before the team started its pre-season training. Dave Stubbs, in an interview with Price’s agent Gerry Johannson, revealed that Price’s intentions had never changed throughout the process. All parties understood that it would take time to settle on the value of the contract. In fact these were things that many people within the situation – and close to it – were saying the entire summer.

    Of course those weren’t the voices that Habs fans chose to listen to. The voice of reason is never popular among those who crave insanity. All summer we heard utter garbage about the player, the situation, and the team. We heard that Carey was demanding trades. We heard that he was going to hold-out. The truth of course was that often contract negotiations take time. The figure that was reached is reasonable given the host of circumstances that play into determining the value of a contract.

    I was not shocked this morning when I began to read some of the comments on the plethora of Habs related sites that I visit each day. Unsurprisingly, many Habs fans are aghast at the value of Price’s deal. Frankly, there would be no pleasing a certain element of this fanbase who crave blood more than Cups. We’ve seen it time and time again with player-after-player who are forced out of town by the sensationalist element that holds far too much air-time when it comes to opining all things Canadien.

    The truth is Price’s contract is exactly where it should be given the market conditions that exist in the NHL right now. Price makes slightly more than Dwayne Roloson, and $650,000 per year less than Pekka Rinne – who many pundits believe is just about the best value-for-player contract among NHL goalies. I invite everyone to go to capgeek.com and peruse goalie salaries themselves. The fact remains, that for all the griping about the “big money” of Carey’s contract, it is actually incredibly reasonable. Especially so, when you consider the tax burden for players signing in Quebec as compared to other players. It costs more to play here. Its a fact that everyone ignores, but is critical in understanding why the Habs have been on the “generous” side more often than not in contract negotiations.

    Even so, consider the other goalies in the league right now. Pascal Leclaire makes $3.8M. Even if they were paid the same salary, would you rather have Leclaire or Price in net? How about JS Giguerre at $6M? The Wild are spending $7.2M on goaltending – where did that get them last year? Cam Ward had a fantastic rookie year that saw him win a cup. Since then he’s looked an awful lot like Carey Price. The only difference of course is that Carolina pays him $6M per season. The fact that the Canadiens have managed to trim their goaltending costs to $3.75M for next season is incredible. The Habs have the 11th lowest salary total for goalies in the NHL, which will allow Gauthier the necessary room to make a deal should one present itself.

    Of course the element who propagate rumours and trouble surrounding the club won’t see this deal for what it is. This deal will now make Carey a lightning rod just like Theodore, Ribiero, the Kostitsyns, Kovalev and so on. They make a huge production over the perception that the Habs could have saved $250K-$500K on Price – their starting goaltender who they’d like to keep happy and in town for as long as possible. Its a joke. I’d like to bet that few of those who are chirping now about the contract have actually ever been through a contract negotiation. There is no guarantee that a guy like Niemi would have signed here for the same number as in California – especially since his arbitration was so late in the UFA season! Look no further than the $3.8M Ottawa is spending on Leclaire as evidence that it costs money to bring UFA goalies to Canada.

    Price is signed for 2 years at a reasonable rate and will be an RFA under Montreal’s control when the contract is up. For me this is a great deal.

    What do you guys think?