The Upper Canadien
Marc Bergevin made quite a splash this morning, at the start of Montreal Canadiens training camp. As you've no doubt heard by now, Bergevin announced that he had sent Scott Gomez home, cheque in hand, to wait out the season, bubble wrapped to ensure his perfect health. This ensures that Gomez can be bought out come July 1st, when the first opportunity arises. I was surprised - after all, the word out of Montreal had been that Gomez was a welcome part of the Canadiens team, and a recent article in the Gazette had him fit, focused and ready for the shortened playoff sprint.
What does no Gomez, or GoHomez as the announcement was termed, mean for the Canadiens? It means a lot of things. It means a new regime is in charge. No more Pierre Gauthier-led mystique. No more lack of quotes and silence. Marc Bergevin was candid and humourous at his briefing this morning, laying the facts out straight as he made the announcement. No holds barred. This is a refreshing change for fans of Les Canadiens.
According to various sources, Scott Gomez has been sent home by GM Marc Bergevin. He will not play for the Canadiens this season, and will be bought out in the summer.
Most of the Canadiens are back in Montreal, with Andrei Markov now having arrived from Russia. One absent face at training camp Sunday may be PK Subban, if his agent Don Meehan and GM Marc Bergevin are unable to come to an agreement on a new contract. Various rumours have Subban asking for "Doughty" money, as in $6-7 million per year on a longterm deal. I don't buy it, and I suspect Subban will settle for a one or two year deal, in the $4.5-$5.5 million range.
Things are still quiet otherwise, although one piece of news to keep an eye on is the health of Tomas Plekanec. There had been reports, that were denied, of an injury while playing in Europe. Plekanec was being checked out by doctors today, and it appears he has a rib injury. We'll learn more once camp gets underway.
Until then, once the CBA is passed by the players transactions can begin. What should we expect from the Habs? I'd look for a defenceman to get moved, as they have quite the collection of depth defencemen available, and far too many to carry on the roster.
The Canadiens will be working hard over the shortened camp, as they look to learn *new coach Michel Therrien's system, which will no doubt differ greatly from that of Randy Cunneyworth and Jacques Martin before him. It should be an exciting few days as we get set for January 19th. I'll have more over the week as the team takes shape, with an eye on whether Alex Galchenyuk makes the cut.
Not much news yet, as the CBA hasn't been signed, but a few quick notes:
- Negotiations are ready to go between Don Meehan and Marc Bergevin to get PK Subban's new contract worked out.
- Mike Commodore has been invited to Canadiens training camp, giving the Habs a plethora of NHL defencemen
- Alex Galchenyuk is expected to be at Habs camp, and coach Michel Therrien is reported to be a huge fan
My quick two cents: the Commodore bit is interesting, as the Habs already have, arguably, too many defencemen. Perhaps M. Bergevin will swing a trade or two to put his stamp on the club. With Viskovsky walking out on the Isles, perhaps there's a match? Just an idea, but I would be surprised if we don't see a move or two in Montreal before the season begins next weekend.
So with about a week/a week and a half until the season starts, the Canadiens have only days in which to sign defenceman PK Subban. Prior to the lockout, according to various media reports Subban was looking for a long term deal averaging more than $5 million a year - something similar to the contract given to Carey Price. I suspect he won't get that now.
As for the lockout being over, I'm happy. But I'm happy, primarily, for the parking attendants, restaurant servers, arena staff, and everyone else adversely affected by what was a silly, unecessary, selfish period in the world's greatest game. I won't forget this period, but I will do my best not to dwell on it.
With the season back, one interesting questions is, what will the NHL do for you, the fan? NHL Centre Ice for the year at no cost? Exhibition game tickets for free? Reduced ticket prices to opening games?
This will be a very interest week for the NHL, and an exciting week for its fans. After the past four months, they, we, deserve nothing less.
But NHL fans do. As I read on this Sunday morning of negotiations, possible start dates, and salary cap limits, James Mirtle's piece in the Globe and Mail on Friday sticks in my mind. It noted that amonst the Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Senators, altogether only a handful of season ticket holders had cancelled. Based on comments from other Canadiens teams as well, we're talking ten or less on average city to city. That's a stickiness factor most businesses would die for.
So, 110 odd days into this lockout, perturbed with both the NHLPA and the NHL, I'm genuinely curious to see whether the fans come back. Numbers like that certainly suggest they will - and I've never doubted they would eventually. But I had always thought there might be a lag. Perhaps there will be in the less dedicated hockey markets?
And so we continue to wait. Hopefully, in a week or two, we'll no longer be having this protracted conversation, players will be back on the ice, and games will be in sight. With Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr involved though, I won't be hopeful until the documents are signed and the players have voted. It ain't done until it's done.
Given the continuing lack of news, other than the trickle of lockout-related developments, I thought some trivia would be a fun way to get the weekend stared.
Here's a doozy that I had thrown at me tonight. Post answers if you know them. No Googling.
Which NHL players, active or retired, have suited up for all three of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens? I'll give you a hint: it's not a long list.
Great to see Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin and Adam Oates get into the Hockey Hall of Fame. My appearance Friday on XM's The War Room focused on hall of famers - who should be there that isn't, who is there that shouldn't be, etc. These are the great bar stool debates that take place city to city across North America. Some of my favourite conversations with friends have surrounded this topic. It's a neverending source of entertainment. While I believe Sundin may have been called a tad early - after all, Pavel Bure had to wait quite a while - all four of these men are widely deserving of a spot at Front and Yonge in Toronto. However, so are a few others.
I could rattle off many names of players I think belong in the hall, and many of them likely will get their place sometime in the next decade or so. But one name sticks out amongst all others as belonging, and it still upsets me that he isn't there: Pat Burns. Among the best coaches ever to walk the bench in the NHL, Burns was a phenomenal leader, a motivator with a proven track record, winner of 3 Jack Adams awards in 3 different cities, a Stanley Cup champion, and a class act. As you know, Burns has now passed away, but his legacy remains, and he should, without question, have a spot in the hall of fame. Why he isn't there bothers me to this day, and it is an issue I very much hope the selection committee rectifies as soon as possible.
Otherwise, a good year and a solid class. The hall should also be inducting more women, another area, like Burns' ommission, that puzzles me to no end. Why did they begin inducting women and then, for no apparent reason, stop? Surely there are many worthy of the honour.
I wish answers to these questions were available, but alas the cloak of secrecy under which the selection committee operates ensures no explanation will be given. So we'll just have to wait another year. Hopefully we'll have actual hockey being played by then.
Tomorrow, I have the distinct pleasure of one again joining Mick Kern and Peter Berce in the War Room for the War Room Review on SiriusXM NHL satelitte radio. We'll be talking all things hockey, perhaps legal, and...who knows, maybe we'll have a deal to end the damn lockout. Seems unlikely, but one can hope.
11 am tomorrow. Tune in, and feel free to comment. We'll try to get a copy of it up on the Korner after the show.
So that's it folks, It's lockout time. I'm not going to wax poetically on the thought of a lockout, or assign blame, or complain about it. But I would like to mention one distinct point that I believe is not elaborated on nearly enough by the mainstream media.
Starting today, scores of NHL players will sign to play in Russia, Sweden, Finland and beyond. Guess what that means? They're taking jobs away from hard working, less talented players who make their living playing 15 or 20 years in Europe, and feed their families based on their output. For every NHLer that goes to Europe to make, what to him is meagre dollars, a longstanding European professional is out of luck. It's bad enough that club employees, waiters, waitresses, parking attendants, and many, many more are drastically affected by the NHL lockout in NHL cities; however, it's even worse when extremely wealthy "union" members head to other leagues on another continents to steal the jobs of the hard working players that have been loyal to their European organizations.
So shame on the NHLPA for not discouraging this, and even moreso on the players for practicing it. They are harming families across Europe, simply to pad their pockets a bit more while they wait out what is a ridiculous and infantile labour situation. The only NHLer I ever heard mention it was Georges Laraque. It's an inconvenient truth that is conveniently ignored but everyone involved.
Just my take, but one that I do not believe is discussed enough. And now, we wait.
About The Upper Canadien
The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.
I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.
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