Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Habs trade a past problem for a better future


The Canadiens Andrei Kostitsyn gives traded brother Sergei a Russian-Redneck dictionary, after he was traded to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Pierre Gauthier continues to set his legacy as GM of the Montreal Canadiens and we’re still not at the free agent deadline!

Late Tuesday, the Canadiens traded pending RFA Sergei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators for the rights to potential RFA center Dustin Boyd and UFA goaltender Dan Ellis. Future considerations are also involved and would come into play if either Nashville or Montreal sign the player(s) involved. In all likelihood that will be late-round draft picks.

This is clearly one of those deals where Kostitsyn supporters will say that he’ll play better outside of Montreal. Should Canadiens fans really care if he does? Yes we can expect calls for Gauthier’s head if Kostisyn has a career year in Music City, but you have to remember that it’s what he did in Montreal that counted.

For Canadiens fans, it should fall on what a player does in a Canadiens uniform. With Kostitsyn, it clearly wasn’t happening, in the Jacques Martin coaching system, since day one of training camp.


At one time he was highly touted as possibly being a top line playmaker, much as he had in the OHL. The pro lifestyle, especially that in Montreal, seemed to be too much of a distraction for him and quite frankly he was unwilling to grow up.

Those waiting for reaction from Kostitsyn on the trade should follow Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov, who will be looking to talk to him tomorrow.

Clearly Gauthier has every intention of signing Ellis and likely Boyd as well. Why else would he make this deal? If he felt Ellis was out of reach, why not just get a draft pick or two instead?

In Ellis, the Canadiens get a solid backup goaltender, and one of the best available in the free agent market. If Carey Price were to falter or get injured at some point next season, Ellis would be more than capable to take the No. 1 spot.


His Twitter account has spiked in followers, since the deal was announced, which I guess shows the lack of popularity of the NHL in Nashville. He also interacts with fans as well, but chances are that his responses will be a bit more spread out now that he’s picked up the Montreal faithful.

On the deal Ellis tweeted, “Very excited about the trade! Its an honor to be part of a team with such great tradition and passion! Hope we can figure something out!”

He also has one of those unique little quirks found in a goalie, as demonstrated by his TV timeout routine.

Price point wise, he’ll probably take a slight cut from the $1.8 million he made in Nashville last season. It will obviously be less that what Jaroslav Halak would have been after, and the Canadiens get a goalie with good experience at a very reasonable price.

As for Dustin Boyd, Montreal gets what could be a younger, and more economically feasible version Dominic Moore or Glen Metropolit, who are both expected to go UFA on July 1.

Boyd was picked up by the Predators at the 2010 trade deadline from the Calgary Flames, and logged NHL seasons of 78 and 71 games the last two years. In each of the last two seasons he has potted 11 goals. By comparison, and to be fair he’s never played more than 56 games, Kostitsyn never reached double figures in goals in three seasons with Montreal.


Hockey’s Future’s most recent report on Boyd said, “His offensive skills have been touted from an early age, and have come out at various stages of his development. Dustin has very good hockey sense, and has been reliable in his own end. He has all the tools to become a solid second line contributor.”

HabsInsideOut.com cites McKeens’s Hockey’s take on him as, “A slick, industrious playmaker with good poise and vision ... agile skater, generates deceptive quickness from bent over stride, though could use a stronger top gear ... makes sharp cuts/spins with the puck and possesses a nice wide stickhandling range ... not overly tall yet can still separate bigger opponents from the puck thanks to solid balance and lower-body strength ...getting stronger on the puck and more effective in traffic will allow him to better exploit a good shot and sharp finishing touch ... has steadily improved his defensive reads and positioning ...”

Boyd is also a former Canadian WJC teammate (2006) of Canadiens forwards Benoit Pouliot and Tom Pyatt, and former Habs Kyle Chipchura and Guillaume Latendresse.


If the offers are where they likely will be for both players, the Canadiens wind up with a better cap hit on two players than they would have by keeping Halak and Kostitsyn with a bit of room left.

Once again, this will be one of those defining moves by Pierre Gauthier that media and fans will look back on at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Catching up some loose Habs ends


Ok now that things have settled a bit on the home front (crossing fingers), I can finally catch up on the events circling the Montreal Canadiens over the weekend.

First up, the NHL Entry Draft. The Canadiens traded up fro 27 to 22 and picked up a mountain of a defenseman named Jarred Tinordi.

I must say I did find it uncomfortable watching Tinordi don a Canadiens jersey with the No. 10 on it. Someone also pointed out that Louis Leblanc donned the No. 9, to which I replied, No. That was 09.” :)

As noted by the TSN panel in the above video, it was a great acquisition by GM Pierre Gautier to get some youth in the Habs defensive ranks.

The chart below, courtesy of capgeek.com, paints a better picture of looking ahead on the team’s blueline. Of note: this does not include  non-roster players and potential Restricted Free Agents (RFA) and Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA), such as Yannick Weber, Alex Henry, Paul Mara etc.

CapGeek.com - NHL salary cap calculator, buyout calculator, free agents and more!

By the time that Tinordi could be ready to join the NHL, at the entry level, Andrei Markov may possibly be gone to free agency. We can anticipate that veterans Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek will be on the verge of retirement by the end of their contracts, and perhaps Hal Gill is still around for veteran presence. By then however we should see Josh Gorges and Ryan O’Byrne stepping up in their places, but making a bit more than what they currently make.

Now this is pure optimism, but If the cards fell into alignment in three years, it could be a solid and impressive group of six (Markov, Gill, Subban, O’ Byrne, Gorges, Tinordi).

The Canadiens also picked up Mark MacMillan (4th round, 113th overall), defenseman Morgan EIllis (117), and forwards Brendan Gallagher (147) and John Westin (207).

Sure they were deep in the draft, but as HIO’s Mike Boone noted on Saturday, you just never know.

“Those tempted to dismiss these kids as no-chancers might consider Andrei Markov, a sixth-round choice (162nd overall) by the Canadiens; Hal Gill, who was an eighth-round pick (207th overall) by the Bruins; Travis Moen, a fifth rounder (155th) for Calgary, Jaro Spacek, a fifth-round pick (117th) by Florida; Tom Pyatt, fourth round (107) by the Rangers, and Josh Gorges, who wasn't drafted at all.”

Maybe the most enthusiastic reaction from the lower-end group came from Ellis, who made the trip out to Los Angeles. "I was expecting to be drafted a little later, actually,” he said. “I know I still have a lot of work to do to make it to the NHL. But this is just amazing.”

Oh and by the way, my pick prediction for the Habs (pre-trade), Charlie Coyle, went number 28 to the San Jose Sharks. George Prax of The Checking Line did pick Tinordi for his selection.

Qualifying offers out, and two more signed: Pierre Gauthier was also busy sending out qualifying offers last week. Carey Price, Maxim Lapierre, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Tom Pyatt as well as Hamilton Bulldogs Mathieu Carle, David Desharnais, Cédrick Desjardins, Brock Trotter, Ryan Russell and James Wyman were all issued offers.

So far Pyatt has signed on for another season, at what may be a steal at $500,000 as per RDS, and the Canadiens also came to terms with potential RFA Benoit Pouliot for another year at $1.35 million. Both forwards will be eligible to become RFAs again at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Is this good-bye?: As per HIO, the Canadiens are not expected to offer contracts to Glen Metropolit, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Dominic Moore, allowing them to become UFAs on July 1. Of the three, I fear letting Moore test the waters could come back to bite the Canadiens.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Media was wrong to critique Hall of Fame selections


The media blasted the Hockey Hall of Fame for leaving several names, along with these guys, on the outside looking in for 2010.

Now that the dust has settled, after last week’s Hockey Hall of Fame inductee announcement, I thought I would weigh in on a few things.

First off, warm congratulations to the three players (Dino Ciccarelli, Cammi Granato and Angela James), as well as the two Builder’s Category inductees (Jimmy Devellano and the late Daryl “Doc” Seaman). All five are well deserved inductees.

The big “slap in the face”, as many are calling it, was the Hall not inducting Pat Burns into the Builder’s category. Yes Pat Burns has the credentials to be in there, and yes his personal situation was a valid reason to get him inducted as well, but…

The factors that the Hall of Fame’s selection committee have to look at is the individual’s contribution to the game, and set aside sentiment. Had Burns had coaching numbers and Stanley Cup success similar to Scotty Bowman or Toe Blake, it would have been a no-brainer. Many of Burns’ friends and former colleagues are part of the selection committee, and I’m sure they found it hard to turn him down.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought what the public did to get Pat Burns into the Hall of Fame was magnificent. I’ll float this out to you though; When “Doc” Seaman was diagnosed with prostate cancer, where was his Facebook page to get him into the Hall before he passed away?

The Hall of Fame took it’s lumps from mainstream media, such as the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts who cited, “Yes, there have been screwups in baseball. But none this bad.”, and Sun Media’s Steve Simmon’s who referred to the 2010 class on Twitter as the “Worst Class Ever.”

I don’t know about you, but comments such as these have to be rather insulting to members of this year’s class and the Hall as a whole. Yes some of the previous classes have raised a few eyebrows, but there’s no need for the media to blast it.

There are four spots available for male players, but maybe the Hall decided to put some more focus on the women’s selections. This year marks the first chance for women to be inducted. Everyone knew this was going to happen, and honestly should have expected a miniscule number of male inductees in this year’s class.

Besides, can you imagine how long a ceremony honoring six players and two builders would run?

For argument’s sake, everyone knew that there would be a boatload of players available for selection, in the post Original Six expansion, especially those who benefitted from the Gretzky/Lemieux eras. The Hall of Fame can’t push them all in at once. Just give them time and in a few years, they will be caught up.

Next year the Hall can get back on track to inducting the likes of Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour and perhaps a long overdue Rogie Vachon.

There’s also still two more inductees possible in the media categories (writers and broadcasters). With the comments emitted this past week however, maybe the Foster Hewitt and Elmer Ferguson Awards will sit on the shelf this year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mock Draft boards weigh in on the Habs No. 1 pick


With the 2010 NHL Entry Draft just hours away, I thought I would surf around the web to see what the mainstream and alternate media are saying in their mock drafts. I came across a small sampling listed below, as there are many “armchair GMs” out there.

The Montreal Canadiens currently hold the number 27 choice and the “panel” has a bit of a diverse mix, with a couple agreeing on the same players. Tri-Cities’ Jaden Schwartz is the popular choice amongst three panelists.

It should be noted that most of these are the thoughts of the specific authors, and not necessarily those of the website or media outlet they post to. Of note: Mike Boone’s pick was not from a mock draft, but an observation made in one of his blogs.

You can check the complete mock draft lists and the NHL Central Scouting reports by clicking on the panelist and choice links respectively.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Panelist Choice P Team Comments
Mike Boone(HIO) Dylan McIlrath D Moose Jaw (WHL) “When was the last time the Canadiens had a bona-fide intimidator, à la Chris Pronger, on the back-end?”
MyNHLDraft.com John McFarland C/L Sudbury(OHL)  
Adam Kimelman (NHL.com) Stanislav Galiev RW Saint John (QMJHL) “Russian-born sniper has had two years to hone his dynamic North American skills”
Brad Holland (NHL.com) Stephen Johns D US U-18(NTDP) “After watching Hal Gill shut down Ovi and Sid, Habs look to shut down future stars with Johns.”
Mike Morreale (NHL.com) Alexander Petrovic D Red Deer (WHL) “Strapping 6-4 defender can skate, handle and distribute the puck well off the transition.”
James Murphy (NESN) Tyler Pitlick C Minnesota State (WCHA) “The Habs have long coveted a big center to go with their skilled and speedy wingers, and at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Pitlick can play that role.”
FanHouse.com Jaden Schwartz C Tri-City (USHL) “The Canadiens have never shied away from smallish forwards. Schwartz will attract teams with his great playmaking skills and speed.”
Respect Hockey Ludvig Rensfeldt C Brynas Jr.(SEL)  
Hockeys Future Alexander Petrovic D Red Deer (WHL) “A right-handed shot, Petrovic has earned comparisons to the Chicago Blackhawks Brent Seabrook, also a WHL product.”
Shane Malloy (Sportsnet.ca) Jaden Schwartz C Tri-City (USHL) “Schwartz could be an offensive force in time and will be well worth the wait.”
Jeff Marek(CBC Sports) Calvin Pickard G Seattle(WHL)

“The Habs won't be fooled by Pickard's average numbers. This kid saw a lot of action this past season and didn't crack.”

Scott Cullen (TSN) Tyler Toffoli RW Ottawa (OHL) “knows what to do when (he)gets around the net and he plays a good two-way game.”
McGuire and Button (TSN) Evgeny Kuznetsov LW Chelyabinsk (KHL) McGuire: “This is a talented player who can produce offense and has balanced speed”
SBNation Ryan Spooner C Peterborough (OHL)  
MA Godin (La Presse) Tyler Pitlick C Minnesota State (WCHA) “This is the type of big man the Habs lack.”
The Sporting News Jaden Schwartz C Tri-City (WHL)

“Schwartz would fit right in with all the other small forwards in Montreal.”

Well that’s who they’re choosing. Every position is covered,even a goalie. All but two North American skaters (Spooner and Johns) were in the top-30 on the NHL’s Central Scouting Rankings and only two skaters play in Europe.

As for me, I’ll go on a real wild limb and say Charlie Coyle. Of course Pierre Gauthier holds the real cards on who the Habs will take, when the official announcement is made on Friday evening, unless he makes a move beforehand.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

When it hits close to home…


You always see the news reports of tornados that strike various places of the world. But last night for me, and a town of 15,000, it hit home.

On Wednesday June 23 2010, an F2 tornado formed over Perkinsfield and tore through the south end of Midland, ON.

Power was knocked out as a result in most of the town and the surrounding areas. Several businesses and homes, mostly in a trailer park, were also damaged. The miraculous fact is that nobody was killed and only a handful were injured.

One of the injured was Fred Prosser, who owns Ward and Patch Sports. Fred is a popular guy in Midland, and is one of the best to go to for a deal on hockey or baseball equipment. Even through a rough economic period, Prosser would stay open late and always make you a great deal to save a trip to Barrie or Toronto.

He is conveniently located right across the street from my “real” job, so it comes in handy for a quick skate sharpen on game day.

Fred was in his shop when the tornado struck and found himself pinned beneath the rubble. Calling for help to no avail, he realized a gas line was exposed nearby. He then managed to get himself free and was found by a passer by and taken to hospital. Fred suffered a broken rib and some cuts and bruises and is resting at home.

His business was destroyed, as seen in the lead photo. After taking a break from our own cleanup, I made a trip across the street to take a look. The roof and front wall of Prosser’s shop was gone and I could see the skate sharpening machine sitting at the back.

Late Thursday friends and co workers were allowed in to salvage what they could. Hopefully Fred will be able to get the business back up and running in time for the upcoming hockey season.

For me it was an eye opener. I was in Brampton on Wednesday evening, where it was a bright sunny, and enjoying my fiancee’s daughter’s soccer game. Checking Facebook and Twitter, for NHL Awards updates at halftime, I realized what happened.

After contacting family and friends, in Midland and area, and knowing they were safe, I decided to stay in the City as more storm systems past through the area.

Arriving back in Midland I discovered this. It’s just a sampling of the damage in a widespread area that I took some shots of between clean up sessions. CTV news has a more detailed photo montage of the damage in my workplace area and other areas where the twister struck.

It’s really a scary feeling, and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy to have to experience.

Fortunately ,most of the power has been restored as of the time I typed this with the exception of where I work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pierre Gauthier: Committed to his team, or needs to be committed?


Well if anything has been made clear for the Montreal Canadiens, it’s that GM Pierre Gauthier doesn’t use the same manual Bob Gainey did.

While the former GM was often labeled as “sitting on his hands” or standing pat in the off-season (last summer excluded), Gauthier has far exceeded that moniker.

We have yet to reach the NHL Entry Draft and already he has put two major roster issues to rest.

First he answered the goaltending concerns, and surprised everyone, by trading Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues.

Many felt Gauthier got too little and could be risking the franchises future. That debate won’t be officially decided until we see how Carey Price responds. As mentioned in a previous post, this move alone could gauge Gauthier’s legacy in Montreal.

The upswing to the trade meant sufficient cap room to negotiate with pending UFA center Tomas Plekanec. Gauthier wasted no time on that either.

In what turned into an extremely busy Tuesday of off ice activity across the NHL, that also saw Montreal sign a one-year deal with Mathieu Darche, news of a deal with Plekanec broke just minutes before the 2010 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees were to be announced at 3:30pm.


The deal is a six-year, $30 million signing that guarantees Plekanec’s services long term in Montreal.

The 27-year-old is coming off a career season (25 goals, 45 assists) and has become a good two-way forward, since being drafted 71st overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, but is that worth $5 million a season?

It will be argued throughout the term as possibly too steep a deal for a six year signing. Montreal now has six players signed at $5 million or more for 2010-11 totaling over $33.5 million (over half the team’s projected cap of $59 million).

Plekanec’s offensive numbers tapered off during the playoffs, which may have influenced his choice to continue negotiations with Montreal. Slightly better numbers may have secured him another million per year, and a better opportunity in the UFA market.

Then again maybe he learned from his former teammate Alex Kovalev’s failed negotiations with the Canadiens last summer, and jumped at the offer.

With the deal also comes with the often dreaded no movement clause. It is uncertain how far in this will take effect, but it could be a concern down the road for Canadiens fans if Plekanec’s performance declines.

In any event, Gauthier is showing that he is committing himself to getting his roster put together for the upcoming season, but at what cost?

Gauthier now sits with approximately $9 million left in salary to play with and a few more roster spots to secure. After being given the foundation and building blocks by Gainey, it’s now up to him to build the future from there.

Signing Carey Price will obviously be the next piece of the puzzle, but we could also see a trade to free up some more spending money, between now and training camp, to fill the final gaps.

Things might get even tougher after next season with five defencemen entering the last year of their contracts.

It will be interesting to look back on Gauthier’s activities of the past week, once the long term effects wear off. Down the road fans could be praising the deal as giving the Canadiens a long-term No. 1 center, or an overpaid and unmovable third liner. The performance/results factor will obviously fall on Plekanec’s shoulders, but ultimately the finger pointing will go further up.

Great strategist and negotiator, or nutty professor? Only time will tell with the Gauthier era.

P.K Subban is making the rounds back home


He may have spent this season playing in the playoffs for the Montreal Canadiens, and most of the regular season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, but P.K. Subban is making a public splash back home in and around Toronto.

Two Sundays back, the charismatic defenceman guest hosted on the nationally syndicated “Live From Wayne Gretzky’s” radio program in downtown Toronto. You can see a segment from the show on Gretzky.com’s video player.

On Tuesday, he will be the drawmaster for this Saturday’s Pepsi North America Cup race at Mohawk Racetrack.

With his popularity in the rise, he has also been tentatively added to the Joe Carter and Friends Celebrity Golf Tournament in Maple (just north of Toronto) on Wednesday.

Not a bad appearance resume for a kid with just two games of regular season experience in the NHL.

The 21-year-old Subban was born in the Rexdale area of Toronto and grew up across town in Scarborough.

photo:David Reginek/Getty Images

Monday, June 21, 2010

Habs memorabilia piece gets a new look, and adds a big name.


A few months back, I wrote a piece on “Centennial” an extensive autograph piece issued by Ice It Authentic.

The project is well under way, with 200 copies of the 1909 count run are already completely signed and available for sale.

To magnify the project further, creator and CEO of Ice It Authentic Wessley Perisa decided to make a pair of changes.

The first was the artwork. Though initially satisfied, Perisa felt that to continuing the project needed better artwork. As much as he liked it, something was missing.

To add to the artwork change, a series of talks with the Montreal Canadiens organization to endorse “Centennial” had been unsuccessful. Without the team’s support and to avoid any litigation, Perisa felt withdrawing from the sock design pattern, that featured the colours used by the Canadiens, was for the best. His artist did some further work and came up with a new concept.

The next part of the project is the most challenging. Ice It is obtaining enough signatures of the Montreal Canadiens’ most prolific player, Maurice Richard, to add to each piece.

That’s certainly not an easy task, but Perisa noted there are enough authentic signatures of the Habs legend out there to do it. Ice It will use the same idea, seen in the popular jersey swatch technique found in hockey cards, where signatures will be cut from photos, cancelled checks, etc. and added to the finished piece.

Another question raised to me by many, since the project was unveiled, was how to get the same players to sign all 1909 copies of “Centennial?”

With current team rosters always changing, and former players limited by time constraints, some more insight was revealed. There will be 100 Canadiens players signatures on each piece, but with only a select few (the most notable players, such as Hall of Famers) signing all of the copies.

Perisa felt that this will also bring a uniqueness to each piece, as the remaining copies are finalized. The “roster” list on the site will eventually indicate which players will be featured on all 1909 prints.

For more information on pricing and the “Centennial” project, you can visit the IceItAuthentic website or send them an email.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Habs trade Halak to Blues: Gauthier gives Walsh the FU


If there’s any hockey insider that says they called today’s events long before they happened, they are lying through their teeth.

Nobody expected to see the Montreal Canadiens trade away goaltender Jaroslav Halak on Thursday afternoon. Correction, there was always strong speculation that Halak would be moved in the off-season, but nobody saw the St. Louis Blues as a destination. Nor did anyone see it coming over a week before the NHL Entry Draft in Los Angeles.

Well they did, and the Blues will send prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal.

Clearly the two sides of the bargaining table, the Canadiens and Halak and agent Allan Walsh, were nowhere close to financial numbers. In fact they weren’t even talking to each other. Walsh stated that there was no contact between him and the Canadiens, since the end of the playoffs.

With the threat of arbitration, Walsh’s Twitter and trade demand antics during the season, and a tight cap as it was, Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier confirmed there had been no negotiations and pulled the trigger on a deal.

Essentially Gauthier and the Canadiens were not going to give Walsh the time of day.

“We sat down and we evaluated how we want to go forward,” said Gauthier in a conference call on Thursday. “When it comes to the cost of a player, we don’t need an agent to get an idea what a player will cost in a cap system.”

Gauthier said that he did call Halak on Thursday to let him know of the situation, “He was a solid citizen for our club, both on the off the ice. We appreciate what he did for us.”

Halak said he was surprised, but happy about the new start in St. Louis. The Blues still have to negotiate a contract with the 25-year-old goaltender.

Many question why the Canadiens made the trade when they did. Why not wait for the Draft, when typically a player’s value hits peak potential?

Gauthier replied, stating that the deal was an easier process than many would think. “The GM’s are well aware what is going on with other teams,” he said. “People that are interested in certain players will call each other. Some are just kicking tires, but there was enough time for anyone interested to call and we made the deal that was best for both clubs.”

The role of the number one goaltender now falls on 22-year-old Carey Price, also a restricted free agent come July 1. In all likelihood a deal to resign him should be imminent now that Halak is out of the way.

“When we discuss players, we discuss what we think they will do in the future,” Gauthier said on deciding Price over Halak. “We look at the following year and other years.

“We are very comfortable with Carey Price. He brings a lot to the table. He has over 150 games in the league, and some playoff experience, a Calder Cup, and he’s only 22. We think he will be a very good goalie in the league and can carry the load.”

The next concern will be who takes the role of the No. 2 goaltender in Montreal. Will it be through the system, or via free agency or trade?

“We have a good idea of who is available, come July 1,in free agency,” said Gauthier. “We’ll keep evaluating as people get moved.

“You need two good goaltenders, and we’ll make sure we have two next year.”

In the prospects coming to the Canadiens, Gauthier said that taking two young players fits into the success formula needed in the cap-era NHL.

“You need the young players that don’t cost too much to offset the cost of the veterans, such as the Chicago Blackhawks.

“You need players that will play well through their entry level contracts. It becomes very important.”


The 21-year-old Eller, deemed the Blues No. 2 prospect, could be a solid second line centre within a year or two, according to Gauthier.

Eller was the 13th pick overall in the 2007 NHL Entry draft and had 57 points in 70 games with the Blues’ AHL affiliate on Peoria.

“He’s a big centre man, with a good shot, he skates well, and he competes,” Gauthier said. “He’ll fit well with our quick forwards and be a very well-rounded player.”


Schultz, 20, spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen (WHL) and could bring size and toughness down the line.

The concern amongst fans now is did Gauthier do the right thing?

Halak’s numbers in 2009-10(via the Blues press release) speak for themselves.

“Halak, 25, was 26-13-5 in 2009-10 for Montreal and ranked 4th in the NHL in save percentage (.940), 9th in goals against average (2.40) and was tied for 5th with five shutouts.
In his 26 wins this season he had a GAA of 1.68 and a save % of .948. He was 4-2-0 vs. the Western Conference with a GAA of 2.19 and a .928 save %.”

There always has to be the notion too that it was a contract season for Halak. If Gauthier is right in the trade, he avoids dumping the teams financial future on a goalie that could pan out like Cristobel Huet did after he was traded.

It also leaves cap space to possibly resign centre Tomas Plekanec, an unrestricted free agent July 1, or go fishing elsewhere. There clearly would not be room for both Halak and Plekanec or other.

If it works and Price flourishes in Montreal, he’s GM of the year. If it doesn’t, it’s the biggest blunder since the Patrick Roy trade.

In any event, you have to admit that Pierre Gauthier has balls.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Seeking answers to the Habs goaltending decisions.


The second biggest free agent concern for the Montreal Canadiens, after centre Tomas Plekanec, is how to deal with their goaltenders.

GM Pierre Gauthier’s concerns grew bigger when Jaroslav Halak came out as the teams No. 1 man between the pipes and had a spectacular playoff run.

Halak, through his agent Allan Walsh, had made it quite clear that he wanted to play regularly. He was given the chance by coach Jacques Martin, when Carey Price struggled, and it paid off.

At the beginning of the season, many felt Price would emerge as the top goaltender, making Halak more expendable when the duo became restricted free agents (RFA). Now, it’s not the case.

The question now is whether Price, who is an RFA for the first time, will be wanting to even stay in Montreal. It hasn’t been a good two seasons for Price, as the 22-year-old had moments of brilliance followed by runs of disappointment. The pressure of living and playing in a “What have you done for me, lately?” hockey town like Montreal has to add to his decisions.

The Canadiens know that Price is still learning and would be absolutely foolish to trade away their first round pick in 2005, especially when his stock value is down. For them to do so, it would have to be a massive deal, that evens out long-term for Montreal, to let Price go before he reaches his prime.

Halak’s stock has clearly soared, meaning he’ll seek earn top-dollar at his RFA level and likely be after a long-term deal somewhere. With the Canadiens on a tight cap already, it could be hard for the two sides to come to an agreement without clearing cap room.

In the cap era NHL, the Gauthier and advisor Bob Gainey have to be thinking of strategies and counter measures to keep at least one of these goaltenders. To let both go would be team suicide.

To keep Halak, and move Price, gives Montreal a goalie at the ready to be the No.1 guy. Cedrick Desjardins, who had a tremendous season with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL), could be called on as the backup.


Desjardins has seen success at the Junior and ECHL level, winning championships in both, and led his team to the Calder Cup Conference final this season.

"They're going to have to make a decision," said Desjardins in an April 2009 interview with The Hockey News. "When they make that decision, I want them to consider that I'll be there.”

The 24-year-old’s contract is also up. Giving him some incentive to get his shot with the big club might save the Canadiens some money on a quality backup.

The question to keep Halak over Price does bring a bit of risk. Was his playoff run the pinnacle of his career with the Canadiens?

In Price’s case, he’s admitted to wanting to do what’s good for the team and could be easier to negotiate with to stay in Montreal. The Canadiens could be able to find a suitable veteran goalie to take the lead for another year or two while he continues to learn.

The Nashville Predators Dan Ellis could be a leading candidate in that regard.

After losing/splitting the starting job in Music City to Pekka Rinne, Ellis continued to put up respectable numbers and is a goalie strong under high shot totals. If the Canadiens are to be pelted with shots, the way Halak saw in the first two rounds of the playoffs, for another year or so then this is your man.

He’ll be 30, and a UFA, by July 1 with a current salary of $1.75 million and could be a nice fit in the Canadiens cap range.


The Hockey News recently ranked him as one of the “Top 10 Best Free Agents” last week, noting, “Ellis is a guy who will want to go some place he has a chance to steal some minutes, and even take over the No. 1 spot. But he won’t command many dollars to do so.” If Halak’s demands were too great, Ellis could be a good “Plan B” if the price was right. No pun intended.

Of course, Gauthier could work a deal to keep both netminders happy with a respectable salary. At the end of the 2008-09 season, maybe that could have happened. It would be surprising to see him be able to do it now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Georges Laraque leads NHLPA/World Vision team to Haiti


Georges Laraque and Nashville Predators defenceman Dan Hamhuis enjoyed some ball hockey with some Jamaican children Tuesday – Photo: NHLPA

Former Montreal Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque arrived in Haiti on Tuesday as part of a joint delegation from the NHLPA and World Vision’s Hockey for Haiti program.

The program, initiated by Laraque, benefits the victims and families of the January 12 earthquake that devastated a large section of the country. The majority of the projects funds will support the Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince. The hospital is now operating an outpatient clinic from tents in the yard.


"To me, this is what life is all about,” said Laraque, who’s parents are from Haiti, in an NHLPA press release. “It's about people coming together to help those who are in need. It's unbelievable what the NHLPA has done. They know what is going on in the world and they know this initiative is very important."

Joining the delegation is Nashville Predators defenceman Dan Hamhuis, who leaped at the chance to help out.

“When the call from the NHLPA went out asking if players would be interested in traveling to Haiti for this initiative, I jumped at the opportunity,” said Hamhuis. “I’ve always wanted to visit a third-world country and to do it in this way, a chance to do a small part to help, makes it very special.”

Laraque and Hamhuis took part in a road hockey game with local kids on Tuesday.

The delegation will also visit the hospital, and announce progress on an auction of game worn jerseys from the 2010 Winter Olympics. The auction runs until the end of June. Information on how to bid can be found at www.ebay.ca/nhlpa or www.nhlpa.com/auctions.

Laraque and Hamhuis are scheduled to appear on a live chat with Yahoo! Puck Daddy on Wednesday at 2:30pm, to discuss their efforts.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hockey Blogger looks to make the Drafted cut

I thought I’d put out a plug and raise some support for fellow Habs fan, and owner of the site Hockey54.com, Launy Schwartz. He’s also a recreational goalie/goalie instructor so you know I gotta have his back for this.

“The Schwartz” has entered into The Score’s “Drafted 2” competition, with a chance to win a gig as a “big-time” sportscaster.

A Montreal native relocated to Toronto, Schwartz has already conducted several interviews with big name NHL personalities at the 2009 NHL awards, last year’s Hockey Hall of Fame Legends game, and other events.

You can catch clips of them in his audition video below.

He probably has an edge with the judges already, with his in-person interviews and creative hockey helmet gimmick, and had the first video to be featured on the Drafted site.

This year, with a new sponsor deal from Toronto’s Just Hockey in tow, Schwartz and the Hockey54 team will be in Vegas again to cover the 2010 NHL Awards.

Auditions are now closed, with the ten finalists to be determined in on July 19. You can keep track of how “The Schwartz” and others are doing on the “Drafted” Blog , Facebook or Twitter.

Good Luck my friend, and don’t forget us little guys when you hit the big time!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Report: Boucher takes head coaching job in Tampa!


In his first act as new GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steve Yzerman has found his new head coach. Reports from Rue Frontenac and CKAC had Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Bucher as the Lightning’s new bench boss. At 38-years-old, he will be the youngest coach in the NHL.

Earlier in the day Boucher reportedly turned down the head coaching position from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Reports that an offer by the Blue Jackets had been made to the AHL Coach of the Year began over the weekend.

When the Columbus turndown broke, Sportnet’s Nick Kypreos immediately tweeted not to be surprised if Tampa made the next move. He seems to have been right.

The Rue Frontenac piece also notes that Boucher’s assistant coaches, Martin Raymond et Daniel Lacroix, may possibly go to Tampa as well. It had been rumored that the Columbus deal was nixed for the team refusing this option.

The Blue Jackets wasted no time in their search however, as reports are already breaking that Manitoba Moose coach Scott Arniel will be next to be offered the position.

Neither Arniel or Blue Jackets’ GM Scott Howson were available for comment, but there is a press conference now scheduled for noon Tuesday.

Many thought that Boucher would remain loyal to the team that gave him his crack at the pros, and eventually be the successor to Jacques Martin . Last summer the Canadiens relieved Don Lever of his position in Hamilton, despite being considered a coaching candidate for the big club, in favour of Boucher.

The move also brings question what lies in store for Kirk Muller. The Canadiens associate coach has made it public that he is pursuing a head coaching position in the NHL down the road.

TSN’s Bob MacKenzie made some valid points that a switch in positions, between Muller and Boucher, could benefit both the individuals involved and the team.

Alas that is not to be the case. With Boucher apparently on the move, the Canadiens may not allow any other teams to talk to Muller just yet.

It should also be noted though that Muller’s name is, as of yet, not on the guest list of a couple celebrity events that he typically attends over the summer. Only time will tell

New management for LeBlanc camp: Canadiens prospect Louis LeBlanc has new advisors for him and his family.

CAA Hockey, led by agent Pat Brisson now represent family interests for Montreal’s first round pick in 2009. Part of CAA Sports, the organization represents several  pro athletes in different fields. Other noted clients in the NHL include Jonathon Toews, Daniel Briere, Sidney Crosby and Jon Tavares.


Over the weekend, LeBlanc’s Jr. rights were traded from Chicoutimi  Sagueneens to the Montreal Juniors. The move added to the speculation that the 19-year-old would be leaving Harvard, where he was the ECHA Rookie of the Year, or the Juniors or perhaps signing with the Canadiens on an entry level deal.

Brisson says at this point, Leblanc is committed to Harvard.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A pair of autographed Habs pieces for the wall


Autographs are always a great collectible. For me personally, I enjoy meeting the player in person and getting a pic or little anecdote to go along with the experience.

Alas, some of the greats have passed on though the years so if you’re after a Doug Harvey, or John Ferguson sig, you’ll likely need to rely on a reputable source.

Continuing my browsing of Montreal Canadiens items of the June Classic Auctions event, I came across a pair of nice combo autograph pieces that highlights the past legends, both living and passed on.

The first is a great autographed lithograph of seven Habs Hall of Famers. Originally a run of 1000 pieces, this is number 0785 of the series. A great panoramic image of Henri and Maurice Richard, Guy Lafleur, Jean Beliveau, Serge Savard, Bernie Geoffrion and Gump Worsley, all signed by the subjects.

Measuring 18 x 39, it would look great framed up on the wall. Bidding was sitting at just over $200 at the time this article was put together. Considering three of the Hall of Famers are no longer with us, it’s a good one to watch.

The next lot is a piece that I can say I have a copy of.


This print fist appeared in the summer if 1993. I came across it in The Hockey News that summer, after the Canadiens had won the Stanley Cup. Given it was the pre-internet days, and figuring the chance to get all these autographs together was remote, I purchased one immediately. This framed 2ft x 3 ft poster was I believe limited to 1993 copies, so there are a few out there but it’s the first time I’ve seen one up for auction anywhere.

Marking the 100th Anniversary of the Stanley Cup, it bears the signatures of the Richards, Beliveau, Bob Gainey, Yvan Cournoyer and Patrick Roy.

Unlike my piece, which is safely preserved in it’s shipping tube, this poster comes beautifully framed and double matted. The cost of that alone is probably worth the current bid of $250.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Taking it to the streets for local food banks


A great fundraiser to help food banks across Canada will be getting under way at the end of this month.

Five Hole for Food is the brainchild of Richard Loat, a Vancouver hockey fan and contributor to Canucks Hockey Blog. Loat makes a summer ritual of taking hockey related excursions, but this year his adventure will be a series of road hockey games across the country that gives back to the local communities.

He’s recruited some known hockey bloggers, and corporate sponsors (Boston Pizza, Monster Energy Drink, etc.) for the nine city whirlwind trip along the way.

It will all begin in Montreal on June 29th at Parc des Éperviers outdoor rink (86 Rue De la Rivelaine) at 7pm. Proceeds will go to the NDG Food Depot. Kyle Roussel of Cowhide and Rubber is the Montreal host.

From there it’s off to Ottawa, where Down Goes Brown’s Sean McIndoe presides over the activities at Bluegrass Park.

Next stop will be in Toronto for some Canada Day street hockey. The hosts are in place but the venue is to be determined.


The tour then heads west with stops in Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Edmonton, Victoria and concludes in Vancouver on July 9.

Notable western blogger/hosts include Tyler from NHL Digest (Regina) and Mother Pucker’s Chris Anderson (Edmonton).

Canucks legend “King” Richard Brodeur is the event’s celebrity ambassador, and more surprise guests may be added along the tour as plans are finalized.

“The Canucks icon is an edition we’re all extremely excited to have on board,” Loat said on the site’s news page. “We’re proud to have his support in our cross Canada trip supporting local food banks!”

There will also be a post-game tweetup/barbeque/gathering so everyone can relax after a hard day’s work.

The full schedule and further information can be found on the site or by email or following them on Twitter.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Basement find pulls vintage Morenz and Joliat cards!


It’s one of those typical stories of finding a lost treasure in an attic. This one came to my attention thanks to a small writeup, by Len Corben, in the North Shore Outlook.

A North Vancouver resident recently uncovered a box of hockey cards, from the 1930’s, in his/her basement. Though not in mint condition (there was evidence of them once being glued and trimmed), the unnamed person brought them to the Greater Vancouver Sports Memorabilia show to get some input.

One of the show exhibitors, renowned sports memorabilia auction house Classic Auctions had a chance to look at them. The cards were part of the 1933-34 O-Pee-Chee Hockey and World Wide Gum (WWG) Ice Kings sets.

Two notable cards from the WWG set (also known as V357 in the collector world) include the great Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat. Another Joliat card graces the O-Pee-Chee (V304) cards.

Individually, the cards of the two Habs greats have book values of anywhere from $500 to $2000 dollars each in ExMt condition. Given the condition of the cards in the descriptions, they are probably valued at 15 to 40 percent of that. But at auction all that can change.

The group of 46 cards is now part of Classic’s Historical Hockey Memorabilia Auction, which is highlighted by Paul Henderson’s game-winning jersey from the 1972 Summit Series. The lot of cards is currently selling at $400 and bidding ends on June 22.

Over the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting more links to Habs-related lots of interest at this auction.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Le Gros Bill receives another honour


Quebec Premier Jean Charest applauds after Habs legend Jean Beliveau receives the Grand Officer Medal of L'Ordre National du Québec. Photo: AP/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot

Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau was added another honour to his resume of achievements.

The Hall of Famer received the medal of Grand Officer of the L'Ordre National du Québec (National Order of Quebec) on Wednesday.

The Order honours current or former Quebec residents for outstanding achievements in any field and is the highest award in Quebec. The ranking of Grand Officer is the highest for the award. Beliveau had been made a Chevalier(Knight) of the Order in 1998 and promoted to Officier (Officer) in 2006.

Beliveau is one of four Canadiens players to have received the Order. Henri Richard (officer/officier), Emile “Butch” Bouchard and Guy Lafleur (both Chevalier/Knight) are the others. Mario Lemieux is the only other NHL player to have received the Order.

A more detailed list of awards received by Jean Beliveau in his playing and post-playing career can be found in this YTHR June 2009 article.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Video Clips from the Habs Blackhawks ‘65 Final

Instead of doing a retrospective of Jacques Martin’s first calendar year as Montreal Canadiens head coach, I thought I’d throw up a couple YouTube Clips from the 1965 Stanley Cup Final.

The series would be a seven-game ordeal between Montreal and the Chicago Blackhawks.

I think these vids will be more entertaining than a best-of video montage of Martin’s pressers, don’t you?

Game Five (April 27): The Canadiens took the game with a 6-0 pasting of Chicago. Things got rough when John Ferguson and Eric Nesterenko had at it.

Game Seven (May 1): The Canadiens win the game 4-0 to claim a 13th Stanley Cup. This is the closing minutes of the game that includes the Cup presentation and the first ever Conn Smythe Trophy to Jean Beliveau.