Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
Extreme makeover? Or did the Montreal Canadiens really improve themselves by adding three new forwards and two defensemen at the cost of letting their first-, third-, fifth- and seventh-leading scorers walk?
This is a touchy situation, especially after the Canadiens were expecting to celebrate the team’s 100th anniversary with a run for their first Stanley Cup since 1993 ... and instead stumbled down the stretch, replaced coach Guy Carbonneau and then bowed out in the first round of the playoffs to the hated Boston Bruins.
One so-called hockey expert commenting on the Montreal Canadiens’ latest flurry of moves —bringing in Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta up front and Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill on defense at the expense of free agents Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang, Chris Higgins and Mike Komisarek—spoke thusly: “I’m not sure but that they have gone sideways.”
MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey announced today that goaltending coach Pierre Groulx and assistant coach Perry Pearn have been added to the team’s coaching staff to work alongside head coach Jacques Martin. These nominations complete the Canadiens’ coaching staff which also includes returning assistant coach Kirk Muller.
Pierre Groulx spent the past four seasons with the Florida Panthers organization under head coach and general manager Jacques Martin, as well as Peter DeBoer during the 2008-09 season. In his first two seasons with the Panthers, Groulx worked primarily as video coach before adding the duties of assistant/goaltending coach to his resume in 2007-08.
Perry Pearn is a career coach with a long and successful track record at the amateur, international and professional levels. Pearn has spent the better part of the past five seasons with the New York Rangers as an assistant coach. Prior to joining the Rangers, he had worked as an assistant to Jacques Martin with the Ottawa Senators from 1996 to 2004.
Two hundred fans may have protested yesterday at the Bell Centre, demanding GM Bob Gainey get Alex Kovalev back with the Habs.
However, Gainey told CJAD’s Andrew Carter this morning, that won’t be happening.
Gainey says Kovalev will definitely NOT be coming back.
An offer had been made to Kovalev on Canada Day but an amount hadn’t been agreed on.
Gainey says another player became available and was willing to come to Montreal, therefore the money for Kovalev went instead to that contract.
from Habs Inside/Out,
Canadiens fan Megan Martin, a Concordia University journalism student who is interning this summer as a City reporter at The Gazette, shares her thoughts at the departure of Canadiens captain Saku Koivu:
The state of team loyalty in sports is a far cry from the Canadiens’ glory days. But when a captain like Saku Koivu heads elsewhere, even my 92-year-old grandmother has a heavy heart.
Koivu’s reach as a member of the community extended far beyond those who bleed bleu, blanc et rouge.
Habs fan or not, the sense of loss that comes with Koivu’s departure is hard to swallow.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
A few suggested that Habs heavyweight Georges Laraque should be instructed - ordered, even - to pummel Komisarek, that despicable traitor, during the new Leaf’s first shift against his old team.
A few deleted comments indelicately questioned the marital status of Komisarek’s parents upon his birth, or suggested that he engage in an activity that is anatomically impossible.
Loyalty to a hockey club is a nearly extinct species in this world of free-agency, with players often short- or medium-term mercenaries who lace up for the team writing the biggest cheque.
Many Montreal fans seem to believe it’s almost acceptable - almost - to leave the Canadiens and sign with most any other team when their status gives them occasion to freely test the market. Just don’t make that new team Toronto or, perhaps, Boston.
from Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News,
You could make a convincing – though not overwhelming – argument that Montreal upgraded its top-six forward supply by replacing Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay with Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.
What can’t be argued is that the Habs chewed threw the one valuable resource they possessed – cap space – and failed to land the franchise-defining player they’ve lacked for years.
By the time they take care of their RFAs, the Canadiens will be pushing up against the cap, yet still without a big No. 1 center or stud defenseman in their midst.
The unknown element in all of this is what Gainey’s options were.
from Manny Almela of MontrealCanadiens.com,
“Gomez needs to play with shooters and that’s where Cammalleri comes in. I think he’s a better fit that way than a player like Alex Tanguay would have been,” explained Gainey. “We told Mike that we had a good place for him and he’s a 27-year-old that is looking for a challenge.”
“Spacek is a top four defenseman who can help us in a number of areas, including the power play. He’s another player that several teams were looking at,” offered Gainey. “A veteran like Hal Gill brings us that physical presence and toughness we lost in Mike Komisarek.”
The busiest team in the NHL on the biggest shopping day of the year, the Canadiens made a serious statement. Gainey pulled no punches about the message that was sent.
“All of these players were being looked at by other teams, but we beat them to the punch,” said Gainey. “The important thing is, they chose Montreal.”
RDS (French) is reporting that the Montreal Canadiens have signed Brian Gionta. From Google translator:
Less than 24 hours after the acquisition of Scott Gomez, Bob Gainey has added to its talented group of attackers through agreements of five years with Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.
Update 8:39pm ET: From TSN—
After playing his entire seven year career in New Jersey, Brian Gionta is on the move having signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Montreal Canadiens.
According to Sportsnet’s trade tracker, Mike Cammalleri has been signed by the Montreal Canadiens for 5 years, $6 million per year.
Update 8:07 pm ET: From the Canadiens—
The Habs weren’t the only NHL team trying to woo the shifty winger, who is coming off a career year with the Flames that saw him notch a career-high 39 goals and 82 points this past season.
“There were about four or five teams interested, but Bob Gainey showed interest right away,” admitted Cammalleri. “I’ve got a ton of respect for Bob Gainey and Jacques Martin. The Canadiens wanted me and showed me the commitment I was looking for.”
per Sportsnet Tracker Hall Gill has signed with the Canadiens. No terms yet.
added 4:47pm, TSN reporting 2yr, $4.5M.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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