Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To bigger and better things in the Habs blogosphere

For time being, this will be the last post at Ya! The Habs Rule!

By now, most of you know that I am taking the managerial reigns of the Habs juggernaut blog

I was thrilled when Robert Lefebvre offered me the position earlier this summer, and had been contributing to EOTP whenever I could since the spring. After some debating I decided to take on the challenge.

To be honest Robert’s site was what inspired me to kick off my own, and in that time I have had some great experiences both online and in the field. I never thought that in a matter of months after I started that I’d find myself interviewing the likes of Kirk Muller, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky or Guy Lafleur! It has truly been a rewarding and memorable experience, that I plan to continue.

In the process, Robert and I found a mutual respect for each others work, over the past couple seasons, and with Robert moving on to bigger things of his own, it seemed the natural thing to do.

In the mean time, I will keep this site up for anyone wishing to do any Habs research. SB Nation has offered to archive the site into  EOTP, but I will likely just refer, and eventually carry over any articles of significance.

I’d like to thank all the supporters of this site, and look forward to seeing you all at EOTP!!

Oh and one more thing, GO! HABS GO!

Monday, September 20, 2010

While the “big boys” duke it out…

So there’s a lot of issues as of late between mainstream media (MSM) and blogger universe, but the last 24 hours seem to have spawned some internal strife amongst some media “elite.”

It all started last week, then the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox totally shit the MSM bed by tweeting that former Habs coach Pat Burns had passed away.

The tweet was scattered across the planet in seconds and being reported by virtually every media outlet shortly after. The only problem was, Pat Burns wasn’t dead.

Seems that Mr. Cox, who unlike me and as far as I know HAS a degree in journalism, failed to confirm the story. Instead he merely relied on a comment from Leafs executive, and friend of Burns, Cliff Fletcher, who these days seems to have know idea who he is or where he is. Not exactly a “reliable source,” if you ask me.

Fortunately the story was clarified as false and Mr. Burns is still with us.

Cox tried to justify his “mistake” in a follow up column. But unlike Mr. Fletcher, and pretty much every other media type, he fails to actually apologize. He essentially pointed the finger of blame at Fletcher.

Cox was called out on Sunday by the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin. I will admit that Dowbiggin suprised me at taking a swing at a fellow journalist, especially after his previous piece on the MSM/Blogger issue seemed almost two months out of place.

You don’t have to like Bruce Dowbiggin, nor do you have to like Damien Cox, but in this case the former was right in his response that Cox failed to take any responsibility for his actions, plain and simple.

So how did Mr. Cox respond? Well on Twitter of course, and at three in the morning in a series of tweets.

    • Funny how Bruce Dowbiggin takes a run at me for not consulting secondary source but never bothers to call me for comment on his hack job.
    • When people with no respect from anyone in the biz like Dowbiggin take cheap shots, it actually makes me feel better about entire episode.
    • Best part is Dowbiggin (William Houston Jr.) is loathed by Globe colleagues for inventing ridiculous rumours others then forced to chase.

It just screams professionalism, doesn’t it?

So while these two scrap it out, let’s see what the other “Pros and Joes” have been doing.

Sissy, I mean Leafs fight!!!!!!

Habs Inside/ gives us a look at Alex Auld’s new mask. Here is the other side of it. Tiny head or oversized bucket? You decide. Dave Stubbs with a feature on the Habs goaltender.

The Canadiens made five cuts on Monday. No real shockers here, but it was nice to see Nicholas Champion (an undrafted goalie) get a chance to test himself against the pros.

Jaroslav Halak (remember him?) will get the pre-season start for the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche. Jeremy Rutherford, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has a great segment on a Blues prospect/Halak admirer who is now sitting 10 feet from him in training camp.

Lions in Winter goes Uber-statistical in comparing that stats of the Canadiens acquisitions from last season.

Kyle Roussell gloats about the $100 he won on Mise-O-Jou, and has a variety of notes and links on the NFL, MLB and Andrei Markov.

Oh Canadiens! Takes a look at the Habs forwards for 2010-11

Pat Hickey takes a look at Benoit Pouliot’s make or break season.

Sergio hits the airwaves: CJAD’s play-by-play man Rick Moffat will be joined by former Habs tough guy Sergio Momesso in the broadcast booth for the 2010-11 season. The station made the announcement last week. Momesso spent some time, during the Habs spring playoff run, co-hosting the post-game shows with Abe Hefter, and seemed the logical replacement for Murray Wilson, who retired at the end of last season.

Live in Toronto? Got any old batteries? If you answered yes to both of these, be sure to stop by the CN Tower, this Saturday from 10am to 1pm, and meet Guy Lafleur! A single old battery gets you an autographed postcard, while a truck load could win you a trip to Montreal. Full details are available on the Call2Recycle website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Advice for Eric Belanger: Get a new agent!


As painful as losing 9 teeth was in the playoffs, Eric Belanger’s latest contract debate may have been more painful. Photo: AP (Nick Wass)

Well what an interesting debacle this appears to be!

When the Montreal Canadiens signed shutdown centre Jeff Halpern, several fans and media questioned why GM Pierre Gauthier did not spend the extra money and go after local faceoff specialist Eric Belanger instead?

Regardless of which player you get, it would be an upgrading for a two-way centre, and take the added burden of short-handed ice time for Tomas Plekanec. Speaking of two-way players, you should read Dave Stubbs’ fantastic piece on former Habs centreman Glen Metropolit, but I digress.

Belanger was expected to fetch close to the $1.75 million range in salary, which would have been more than what Metropolit made last year, leaving some tweaking for Gauthier to keep his team under the cap, or have zero space left.

My choice? I would have gone after Belanger. He’s been consistent offensively over the last three years, and quite frankly I don’t know many NHLers that can take a high stick, lose nine teeth (pulling one out on national TV) and stay in a playoff game.

In any event, the Habs signed Halpern to a one-year $600K deal, leaving speculation that a deal with Belanger couldn’t bee reached.

Was Belanger looking for more than his value, after a career high 41 points with the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals? Was he like many NHL players fearing the high tax brackets in Quebec? Who knows. Maybe he had reached a deal elsewhere…ahhhhh!!!

On Tuesday, Belanger signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for a single $750K a season. Huh???? Makes no sense, or does it?

By Tuesday evening, the accusations from the Belanger camp were fired out. Apparently there was a verbal deal between Belanger and the Capitals for the centre to stay in Washington. A deal that the Capitals allegedly reneged on  according to the forward and his agent.

A frustrated Belanger spoke to Montreal’s Team990 on Wednesday, citing that the Capitals gave him and agent Joe Tacopina gave him a reasonable offer, but did not wanted the signing to be announced as the team was working on a trade.

“They said it would take about a week to make a trade,” Belanger said. “It wasn’t a question of if they were making it but when, and you’re going to be signed, because they didn’t want to lose any leverage on the trade.”

This all started close to seven weeks ago, according to Belanger, who in the meantime leased an apartment and had his children enrolled in local schools. The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle seems to back up the situation with an article from August 12.

“I’m no lawyer guy but the line has been crossed, and now I’m looking ahead,” Belanger concluded.

Tacopina spoke to Toronto’s the Fan590 on Wednesday, reinforcing his client’s statements, adding that he had this all on record, via email, from Capitals assistant GM Don Fishman.

According to Tacopina, he was told by Fishman that this deal would be taken care of, once the trade was finalized, and not to worry about negotiating with other teams.

An exchange of stalling emails from the Capitals were sent to the agent, telling him to be patient. Tacopina also noted that Capitals Team Services manager even emailed his client in assisting with housing and getting his belongings moved from Minnesota.

Mirtle seems to verify Tacopina’s side of the story to an extent, in Wednesday’s article ,in the Globe and Mail, and includes excerpts of emails between the agent and Capitals GM George McPhee.

With time running out, and no contract, Belanger signed for $1 million less than what he thought he would a month prior.

But while Tacopina plead his case in print and on air, after all he is a prominent New York City defense attorney, the all important question came to mind.

If there was a deal, why not get it signed and done with and not dicker around for close to two months?

Tacopina easily should have said, “OK, we have a deal but this trade must happen in five to seven days.” He didn’t and Fishman and the Capitals appear to have played him and his client like a fiddle.

Contractual agreements and plea-bargains, which he is more familiar with, are two different things. From this debacle, it’s questionable if Mr.Tacopina realizes this.

The validity of the afore mentioned Globe and Mail article from mid-August also has some concerns. If the Capitals did not wish to unveil the signing, why would Belanger (according to the Le Soleil source in the article) say anything regarding it? Was this the deal breaker? Why would Tacopina allow his client to speak publically on a deal that way?

Mirtle continues to back the errors on Tacopina’s judgment in his Wednesday article below;

A contract, however, was never signed and registered with the league, an arrangement several veteran player agents said they would never have agreed to.

“They don’t have a legal leg to stand on,” one agent said Wednesday. “The entire situation is governed by the CBA. An agent and the player are obligated under the CBA to not take individual legal action or you can lose your certification to be an agent ... The sole remedy would be a grievance.

“The grievance precedent is 100 per cent crystal clear: Unless you have a signed standard player contract on file, registered with the NHL, you have nothing.”

A grievance? Yeah there’s a book the NHL and NHLPA likely don’t want to visit twice in a year, eh?

Mike Vogel, senior writer for the Washington Capitals, also replied to to Tacopina’s statements, and has the backing of the team’s majority owner Ted Leonsis.

So in the meantime, Eric Belanger is stuck with a lease on apartment in the D.C. area, where his belongings likely already are, and now has to look at either finding another school in the Phoenix area, or playing distant father to his kids. Oh, and he could be out a million or so due to his agent’s bungling.

As Belanger said, he’s now looking ahead. For him, the 2010-11 NHL season will obviously be a hockey one, as opposed to a financial one. He should just continue doing what he does, possibly getting some power play time in Phoenix, and start over next July.

Hopefully by then, it will be with an agent that knows what he is doing.