Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Vinny watch

Two years ago, Canadiens fans had Jagr Watch. Look back a bit further, to the summer of 2009, and it was Vinny watch. That year, the Canadiens were celebrating their 100th anniversary as an organization, and Bob Gainey was actively trying to build a contender. We all know how that turned out - not well - but through it all the Habs courted a 6'4'' centre from Quebec named Vincent Lecavalier. Time and again they were stymied in their pursuit. Fast forward 4 years, and the same player is now available, will take no assets to acquire, and is exactly what the team has been after for two decades: a big, physical, first line centre who can lead the charge. This isn't Denis Savard 2.0. There's no Chris Chelios going the other way. This is an opportunity too good to pass up. 

Vincent Lecavalier is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens need. Put aside age - 33 isn't retired - and recent performance - he played very hurt last season and was hurt the year before as well - and you've got the first line centre they have for so long desired. Add in the fact that's he's homegrown, and returns to Montreal to live every offseason, and this could be a perfect match. Clearly Lecavalier has considered Montreal as a destination before. Yes, the pressure will be higher than Tampa Bay, but imagine the glory that would accompany bringing a Stanley Cup back to Montreal? Imagine growing up just outside Montreal, and being able to captain your favourite team, your childhood dream? That's what Lecavalier has to weigh now. 

Are the Canadiens interested? How could they not be? Lecavalier can not only contribute now, but help in grooming youngsters like Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. This is simply a situation where the Habs have to act. Marc Bergevin needs to be aggressive, and he needs to try and snag Lecavalier now.

How much, and how long? If I were in Bergevin's shoes, I'd go as high as $5 million a year, and aim for a 3 or 4 year term. I have to believe those numbers would make the Habs very competitive in any bidding. If you need to, move other salary out to make it work. Clearly other teams will be after him, such as Toronto, Detroit, and Vancouver. But such an acquisition will mean more in Montreal than anywhere else, and it would go a long, long way towards cementing Bergevin in the minds of fans. He and the relatively new ownership would be doing what the old guard couldn't: landing the local hero. 33 years old, local boy, Stanley Cup winner, .80 points per game over the last 3 seasons. Is there any doubt Lecavalier would be the best forward the Canadiens have had in 20 years? The Habs always seem to be second choice, or runner up, in the free agent sweepstakes. Time to put an end to that frame of thinking. Vincent Lecavalier. Montreal Canadien. How sweet does that sound?

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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.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com