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Game 29: Habs/Devils

  • Forgive me for a moment if I talk about baseball on a hockey blog.

    While hockey is my first love and the Montreal Canadiens my undying passion, as a kid in Souther Ontario, I also grew up playing and watching baseball and cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays. 1993 as you can imagine, was the best sporting year of my life. I was 12 years old, and both the Canadiens and Jays were Champions. Today I am as big a fan as ever, I have seasons tickets and follow the team about as closely as I do the Habs.

    The biggest reason (outside of Jose Bautista), that my love for the Blue Jays continues to grow is because they have a man who I consider to be among the game’s very best in the position of GM. Alex Anthopoulos started first with the Expos and then moved to the Jays and has worked his way up to becoming a person that I admire above most others in sports.

    The reason I’m over the moon for AA is because he always seems to have a plan. He looks for ways to use baseball’s system to the Blue Jays advantage – building a club with a never ending gaze towards the future. He’s the type of manager that instill’s ultimate confidence that with every move – the team will get a little better. His deals over the past two years have re-built the Jays farm system from one of the worst in all of baseball, to top 3 – without the benefit of top draft picks from tanking.

    It gives me great pains to compare the GMs of the two clubs that I love. Whereas Anthopoulos has a plan that improve’s a club’s financial standing or competitive edge with every move, Gauthier seems to make every decision ad hoc… on the fly.

    The trade of Jaroslav Spacek for Tomas Kaberle reeks of desperation. It reeks of poor decision making. It simply reeks.

    Spacek wasn’t a valuable player, but the cap space his expiring contract would leave the team next season would be incredibly valuable given the critical players who are up for renewal. Gauthier added a fringe player and used $4.25M for the next two years following this one, making his cap situation incredibly murkey, while potentially forcing himself to make some very risky decisions in the off season.

    In short, its the kind of deal that Anthopoulos would never make.

    It is exceedingly frustrating as a fan who respects those who make solid decisions for their teams in terms of strategic planning to watch each season as my club mortgages its future. While i could eat my words if Kaberle leads the Canadiens back into the playoff picture (and yes I do hope that happens), I cannot endorse this move by the GM. It is a gamble with the longest of odds, and not the type of decision that you hope the one person in charge of the club would make.

  1. I believe if you look at the record we have this year, when Spacek was in the line up we have a better record than when he was out. Whether it is coincidence or not, when he came off the injured list at about game 6 we started to win and we recoved to play better than 500 hockey. Then he got injured again and we have lost 6 of the last 7 games. Maybe we are missing something here??? Oh well too late now. I hope that Kaberle is able to produce with our power play, if not we then I agree we just spent $4+M for the next three years for nothing.

  2. #2 Avatar37 says:
    December 12, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Sure, we may have had a better record with Spacek this year, given that 5 of our top 6 defenseman had played less than 83 games. If you look at the past two years with Spacek, two years ago he was ranked 13th in the league in giveaways averaged over 60 minutes, and then ranked 4th in the NHL for total giveaways, behind Hamrlik ranked 3rd. Couple his bad passes with poor defensive coverage, being slow of foot, and occasional poor penalties, he never lived up to the contract he’d signed.

    Then again, neither does Gomez. Trading for Kaberle means two things: Come next year Gomez will no longer be a Hab, one way or another. It also likely means Gill will not return. Subban is a RFA, which means a shorter, lower value contract, especially after the season he’s having this year. While Price is also a RFA, I expect a longer term contract with his salary doubling, and between Gomez and Gill and Campoli, should leave us enough room to do that and re-sign all our RFAs and some of our UFAs. With Gorges becoming a UFA, how much of a raise will he command? I’m guessing just over $3 mil per year. I’d also guess AK will be back on a shorter term contract at roughly the same value he has now, unless he can find a team willing to pay him $4+ mil per year, which you never know, some team may be willing to take a gamble on.

    Otherwise, there’s not much PG can do, we’re locked into Gomez/Cammalleri/Gionta/Cole/Plekanec/Markov/Kaberle until at least 2013-2014, with Plekanec running the longest (until 2015-2016). The only way to aquire a top tiered player would be to send a roughly equivalent salary the other way.

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