The Montreal Canadiens surprised everyone yesterday by dealing Marcel Hossa to the New York Rangers for Garth Murray.
Younger brother of Atlanta’s Marian Hossa, Marcel Hossa has been trying to crack the lineup since 2001. His development until now was questionable, and with heavy expectations to reach the status of his brother, he did not make much of an impact with Montreal in 59 games. However, he had his strongest training camp to date and looked poised to crack the lineup and finally become an NHL regular.
The deal came as quite a shock to many, leaving questions unanswered. The Habs brass may not have been all that enamored with him after taking so long to develop. Coupled with the influx of new rookie potential and more specifically Guillaume Latendresse’s strong play and media hype, Hossa finds himself on a plane to the big apple.
The knock on the Canadiens in the recent years has been lack of size and strength. Widely considered a finesse team built on speed and skill, the Habs have not had a power forward or physical force in some time. Bob Gainey and company could be looking to change this by giving that responsibility to 6’2 220 lbs Guillaume Latendresse.
Swapping Hossa for a minor league tough guy the weekend before the season starts leads one to believe that the Habs are clearing that spot for Latendresse. Can he fill that role as an 18 year old player? What if he can’t?
What will people think should Latendresse score 5 goals this year, and Marcel Hossa scores 30 with New York. This scenario is quite plausible, and fickle Canadiens fans will be calling for Gainey’s head. On the other hand, if Latendresse can have a season like Boston’s Patrice Bergeron did in his rookie year, and provide that physical presence, Habs fans will be rejoicing into April.