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Game 45: Habs/Rangers

  • Following a tough shootout loss at home last night, the Canadiens welcome (begrudgingly) the New York Rangers to town who are fresh off of a 3-0 victory against the Maple Leafs. Marty Biron started in net (and played fantastically), which will leave the Habs to face Lundqvist. I guess Torterella wasn’t about to start Biron in Montreal after the 4-0 victory Montreal scored earlier in the season.

    For Montreal fans it will be the first opportunity to see Rene Bourque in a Habs jersey. The trade that sent Michael Cammalleri back to Calgary has been a controversial one.

    From an emotional stand point, if you asked me who I would rather have on the roster – Gomez, Gionta or Cammalleri – I would have picked Cammy in a heart-beat. A roster that is without Cammalleri and with Gomez is certainly not what I would call improved. Despite Cammalleri’s struggles to score this season, he has the potential to make a huge impact on a team that lacks any top line offensive talent. The team also sent the rights to Kari Ramo and a 5th round pick in the upcoming draft. People have made a big deal about losing Ramo, but the truth is – he was never going to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Carey Price is the goalie for now – and the distant future. Ramo would not leave Russia to be a back-up. So Ramo wasn’t ever going to don a Habs jersey, and unless Calgary is going to deal Kiprusoff, its unlikely he leaves Russia.

    Back to Rene Bourque. He has had effective seasons  for the past couple years in Calgary. His last two seasons both produced more than 50 points. And if you asked me whether I would rather pay $3.3M for 50 points or $6M I think the answer is pretty clear. However, Bourque has struggled this season and is currently on pace for just 32 points. At 30 years old, and signed until his age 34 season – Montreal has taken a gamble that this season is an anomaly.

    Montreal also gains another second round pick in next season’s draft – which at this point would give them two picks in the first 10 of the second round. The opportunity to swipe another PK Subban or Max Pacioretty could be a value add in this trade.

    Ultimately, my impression of the trade is that while emotionally, I had a soft spot for Cammalleri because of his post-season successes, Montreal HAD to do something to gain advantage from a losing season. Another pick and some cap space – along with a player in Bourque who could provide desperately needed size and scoring, and a junior age player on a good junior prospect in Patrick Holland is a decent haul for Cammalleri. I question whether or not Gauthier should have publicly let it be know that players were available though, because you never know what another GM may or may not have offered in terms of players and picks.

  1. #1 Avatar37 says:
    January 15, 2012 at 4:46 pm

    We can debate whether trading Cammalleri was a good or bad thing, or whether we had a choice in the matter as it seems Cammalleri had reached the point where he simply wanted out of town. His first comment upon becoming a Flame was that he was looking forward to having fun on the ice again. Hard to fault him when there’s so much pressure in Montreal and fans jump on you fast when you’re struggling. It’s also hard to find success on the ice when you’re not having fun and enjoying the game.

    That being said, if it was time to trade Cammalleri, PG sure dropped the ball. When you have an asset like Cammalleri, you need to shop him around. PG seemed to focus only on Bourque, for reasons I can’t quite understsand. Bourque certainly is not in the same league as Cammalleri, even if the numbers are somewhat similiar. You’re comparing a slumping Cammalleri to Bourque who isn’t. Bourque does not have the offensive upside that Cammalleri’s capable of. If you’re going to trade your top forward, you better be bringing back comparable talent. I understand the need to get bigger on the wings, but there are other candidates available for trade, including Darche, Gionta and Gomez, and Weber, Campoli, and Gill on the back end. Trading down and getting a second round pick only makes sense if a) you’re tanking the season, dumping your top talent, and gearing for a rebuild or b) going to use the pick and cap space to swing another trade for a top tier talent coming back to us while shipping out someone who isn’t. This trade smacks of desperation, unless we have some secret deal for Nash in the works, and unless we’re rebuilding, we don’t need the pick. So which is it, are we rebuilding, or are we going to make a push with this group, because based on Gauthier’s moves, I can’t figure it out. And if we do keep the pick, this is what we’ve done with second round picks in the past 10 years:

    Danny Kristo, PK Subban, Ben Maxwell, Mathieu Carle, Guillaume Latendresse, Cory Urquhart, Maxim Lapierre, Tomas Linhart, Duncan Milroy, in 1999 we picked Alexander Buturlin and Matt Carkner, like we couldn’t use Carkner now, right? My point being, other than Subban, we haven’t had a good second round draft since 1987 where we picked Eric Desjardins and John Leclair, and then traded the both of them away, so if for some odd reason we’re actually keeping this pick, odds are not good on it turning into anything of value.

    Now that we have some cap space, I’d love to see us target Hartnell. He’s big 6’2 210, he’s feisty, he fights, scores, and is exactly the kind of player we need on this roster, and if Philly is looking to trade him, we should be in the market to buy. Bundle some of the players on this roster who don’t fit in and some draft picks, I’m sure we could swing a deal. He’s not cheap, but he’s exactly what we need.

  2. Bourque is struggling from an assist point of view but he does have 13 goals which puts him on a 25 projection if he continues at that pace. Players like him because the tend to stand in the crease and scene goalies tend not to get assists on a lot of goals yet they have that invisible assist that does not show up on the score sheet. So If he does that in Montreal and still gets his share of goals then I do not care about this actual assists as long as his line mates get goals becuase he is doing his job in front of the net.

  3. Gionta was not tradeable due to his injury. Gomez would not fetch a bag of pucks right now, Darche has not had a good year but certainly would not fetch a top six forward, Weber could possibly fetch a player with potential top six. Gil and Camponi will be draft pick or prospect trades at best. The only way you are going to get a top six forward is with a #1 draft pick or trade a top six forward in return. So you trade a player who is struggling and has a negative attitude towards the team, something that you cannot have on the team if you want to be successful. Still an even trade but then again we have both heard all this before. We keep hashing out the same arguments. Put it to rest.

  4. Did anyone notice how much fun the players were not having in there win tonight.

    Did anyone notice how much fun the players were not having when they scored the tying goal to force overtime against Ottawa Saturday night, and how disappointed they were when they lost.

    Did anyone notice how much fun the players were not having when they score the goal to make it 2-1 against Boston and how hard they tried to tie the game.

    This team is playing harder and harder under Cunneyworth who is gradually chaning tht attitude of the players on the team and the team system that they are playing now compared to when JM was coach.

    This team is playing to win now rather than not to lose. You can see how much harder and more offensively they are playing in the third period now, had they done that earlier in the season we would not have lost as many games or leads in the third period.

    The only thing negative was Cammy was not getting the ice time and was not getting the PP time he was used to. We was not getting the puck in his scoring areas, that he was used to, why becuase he was not producing. At some point the Coach has to make a decision do you stay with the guy who is not producing or do you try someone else.

    Did anyone see Cammy’s goal he scored in Calgary, when was the last time you saw him go to the net in Montreal. He was almost always out on the perimeter waiting for someone to pass the puck and he could shoot. Almost every team has adjusted to his shot from that area. That is why he was shooting and hitting posts, because the open parts of the net were not there. It had to be a perfect shot. I wish Cammy luck in Calgary, but truth is he was frustrated because of reduced ice time and finally lashed out by saying that everyone had a losing attitude and were acting like loser, I think maybe he was the only one that actually felt that way. He was suppose to be our best scorer, we were losing one goal games because he was not scoring enough goals to allow us to win or tie games. Right or Wrong that is how I see it anyway.

  5. From Eklund:

    n Cammalleri and Gauthier.

    I came out and said that Gauthier had little choice but to move him, and I do believe that to be true. This all didn’t start with the “losers” comment last week. Talking to current Hab players you would be hard pressed to find any of them who are surprised by this move and even harder pressed to find a player who wouldn’t tell you how selfish Cammalleri had become. One player this morning flat out told me it was “Addition through subtraction” and another adding, “the real stars in the league don’t believe talent means you have no accountability.” A scout called him “entitled” which is a word I also heard tied to the player when a certain team let him go without a fight…Why that same team got him back is truly amazing.

    I wish I could find the exact clip from Denis Potvin who was on XM yesterday discussing Cammalleri prior to him even being traded. I really admire Potvin and his analysis. Potvin and Billy Clement are the best in the game in my opinion.

    Potvin was asked about Cams comments and said, “To me it sounds like the comments of a player who has realized his minutes have fallen off and who, previously under Martin, was not held to playing consistent two-way hockey.” bingo.

    So Gauthier HAD to move him. But did Gauthier panic here? Couldn’t he have suspended the guy and shopped him for more of a return than Calgary’s own problem in Renee Bourque?..(who by the way is not French…just sounds it.)

    Perhaps Gauthier could have waited, but I reminded of how quickly he moved Halak two summers back. At the time I felt he really could have gotten way more for Halak, yet for Halak he actually got quite a bit in retrospect. I am going to wait and see here.

    My main issue with Gauthier’s season so far is how he has not been public enough in getting people to grow up and get past the fact that Cunneyworth doesn’t speak French. I get the French media’s desire to have a French guy to interview and I also get the fact that French Canadian Habs fans want a French coach. I love the cultural aspect of the franchise. I just think sometimes it needs to be kept in a proper perspective and Gauthier is the one guy who could have made that more clear.

  6. Seems things are coming out now about Cammilarie now that the trade is done. Read below another report that supports Eklunds report.

    Cammalleri’s Comments Reinforce his Image as a Selfish Player

    Eric Engels
    Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSS• Archive• CONTACT

    Take it for what it’s worth.

    Mike Cammalleri came to the Canadiens with a reputation of being selfish. It preceded him in Calgary, as he came over from an L.A. Kings team that had had enough with him. And surely, it impacted the Flames’ decision to let him walk to unrestricted free agency three summers ago.

    But we welcomed him to Montreal with open arms. We were refreshed by his unique take in post-practice/post-game interviews, excited by the prospect of adding a shoot-first player to a team that hadn’t had one in a decade, and his performance reinforced that excitement in year one.

    If the 26 goals were a big step down from the 39 he had notched with Calgary the year prior, then surely the 13 he scored in 19 playoff games made up for it.

    But last year, it was 19 goals in 67 games. And it became clear that it wasn’t just the injuries he dealt with that hampered his success.

    And we didn’t need to sift through the scathing comments he uttered to Francois Gagnon and Arpon Basu, yesterday after practice, to know that Cammalleri’s decline has been long-building in Montreal.

    Cammalleri’s assessment, in referring to the team’s losing attitude amounting to more losses; in referring to the team’s insistence on following the plan to the letter without giving an afterthought to playing and adapting as the situation requires may not have been intended to be shots at his teammates and coaches, but how else would you interpret it?

    His accountability lacks despite his marginal attempt to own up to a poor personal performance against the Blues, and his lament over sparse ice-time under the new coaching staff is another case of finger pointing that doesn’t wash well with Canadiens fans, nor should it in this season in which he’s accounted for 8% of the team’s 108 goals.

    But the crux of the conversation comes at the very end, in which Cammalleri tells Gagnon and Basu to “read between the lines” regarding his commitment to the team, and hints at his willingness to accept a trade if he’s approached by the general manager.

    There are a lot of things you can say that cross the threshold of what’s commonly acceptable, but that last one isn’t just over the line, it’s well past.

    Last season, super agent Allan Walsh went to the newspapers to sing a Cammalleri cover song about how his client, Martin Havlat, was being looked to, to provide top-line scoring even if the Wild were unwilling to give him top-line minutes.

    Here’s what he said:

    “When Chuck reached out to Marty Havlat two summers ago after he led Chicago to the conference finals while leading the team in points in the regular season and playoffs, he shared a vision of building an up-tempo offensive team with Marty as a pillar to this strategy,” Walsh said in an e-mail to the Star Tribune. “That’s why he signed with the Wild.

    “Since that time, Marty has been used in a purely secondary role. Look at this season, he’s played four straight games at about 14 minutes of ice time, he’s used on the second power-play unit, he sits for long stretches, he’s not used in the shootouts. At a certain point in time, one has to ask, ‘Why is he here?’ One has to ask, ‘Why pay this guy $30 million to not play?’

    “It’s like we are in a time warp and the coach has totally ignored or chooses to ignore what Marty has done offensively over the course of his entire career. People say the Wild don’t have a star player. The Wild have a dynamic offensive player right under their nose and yet choose not to use him to their advantage. Look around the league, what other team has a player like Marty Havlat wilting on the vine like this?”

    After Walsh spoke up, Havlat started breaking the 20-minute mark regularly.

    It was highly controversial for Havlat’s agent to go straight to the papers instead of consulting the GM about his client’s discontent, but it worked. Havlat became the top-used forward, and he also led the Wild in scoring from that point forward.

    But it came as no surprise that Havlat was moved in the off-season.

    We’ll see if the Canadiens play to lose tonight.

    We’ll see if Cammalleri is part of the solution instead of being at the very heart of the problem.

    We’ll monitor his ice-time very closely, to see if he breaches the 20-minute mark, and if it amounts to goals.

    We’ll see if Cammalleri can boost his value between now and the deadline.

    As for the notion that if a performer like Erik Cole had spoken in the same manner as Cammalleri did yesterday, it would’ve been interpreted as pride. He had that opportunity earlier in the year, when the Canadiens were losing and he wasn’t even being used on the powerplay or for more than 14-minutes per game.

    His response was to continue to work hard until he was adequately rewarded.

    He played 27+ minutes in a game last week…

    To me that is how a star player deals with adversity, he works harder to get his game back, not complain to the media that the coach is not playing him.

  7. #7 Mats Naslund says:
    January 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Big factor for me once I actually looked at the numbers is that Bourque has actually had better seasons over the past 3 years than Cammalleri for about $3M less per year.

    Just from watching him the other night you can tell he is a fast skater with an edge to his game. The fact that MTL got a 2nd round pick (2013), and a prospect to go with Bourque is actually a great deal.

    We all complain about how infrequently we score from close range – well Bourque scores more than Cammy – and from the areas that we need to exploit.

    Time will tell whether this was a good deal or not – but as it stands now. I like the quick, big players that are on the wings right now. Who knows what we may add in the off season, or how Bourque will play out, but all things being equal, I like this trade in retrospect.

  8. #8 Avatar37 says:
    January 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Senet – That’s the big difference between Gauthier and Gainey. When Gainey needed to step up and address the fans and media to defend the team, he did so. He flat out told fans that if you’re just going to come to games to boo the players, stay home. I’m not seeing this kind of leadership from Gauthier. It seems to me the Habs and Gauthier have become more interested in placating the media, rather than saying “This is our team, and if you don’t like it, tough cookies, stay home.” I wonder how fast some of the media might change their tune if their press passes got revoked.

  9. Avatar, I agree, Gauthier is a weak GM and does not know how to deal with these types of situations. Gainey may not have been perfect but he improved the team, we had some excitment back in Montreal and it is too bad that he had the personal problems with his daughter because I believe he still has some ideas to improve the team. However, because of his personal problems, he just could not do the job. Finally, he resigned because of those issues. I still think he could have been a good GM. I guess Pactum disagrees but I believe that it could bring this team a lot further if given the chance.

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