Montreal Canadiens Fans Moan with the Departure of Desjardins
The Montreal Canadiens’ Pierre Gauthier is not the blundering general manager many Habs fans make him out to be, but he’s certainly no Sam Pollock either; At least if his latest move is anything to go by.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are no strangers to Montreal acquisitions, having recently hired Montreal’s minor-league GM, Julien BriseBois, and head coach Guy Boucher. Tuesday, Gauthier sent more talent packing for Florida, trading Hamilton’s Bulldogs’ Cedrick Desjardins to the Tampa Bay Lightning for exiled-to-Siberia (literally) goalie Karri Ramo.
So a day after Habs fans ridiculed Toronto Maple Leafs’ Brian Burke for yet another failed attempt at ridding the organization of its albatross defenseman Tomas Kaberle, Leafs fans are getting a perfect opportunity to even the score. Let the insults fly, Toronto, and for your convenience, here’s the most obvious opening salvo:
Desjardins is coming off a career season in the American Hockey League, earning a 29-9-4 record with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and six shutouts. He led the league in GAA, was second in shutouts, and fourth in wins.
But no matter how great Desjardins’s season was last year, the National Hockey League is a much nastier beast than the AHL. And at the moment there’s just no evidence Desjardins is capable of building on his success at the minor-league level.
Carey Price’s stats over his infamous Calder Cup run in 2006-2007 are a perfect example. He went 15-6, with a 2.06 GAA and a .936 save percentage en route to becoming the most valuable player in the playoffs. How’d he do this past season with the Habs? His 13-20-5 record speaks for itself.
The experts know: Desjardins was never projected to be anything more than a top-level backup, if that. So Habs fans need not start burning things just yet, for all was not lost.
But the situation Montreal is inheriting is far from perfect. While no one can deny Ramo has the potential to be a starting goalie and has a higher ceiling than Desjardins, his success depends entirely on his desire to play in the best league in the world. Because despite plans for him to be Lightning goalie Mike Smith’s backup last season, Ramo bolted to play for Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League.
He’s signed to play at least one more year in Russia and can only potentially join the Habs in 2011-2012.
So, what the move adds up to is the Habs moving a legitimate goalie with an actual spot on the team’s depth chart for one who, for all intents and purposes doesn’t even exist for the NHL and its North American based fans.
Gauthier could theoretically be forgiven for this move if he hadn’t already mucked up the Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price situation. Everyone hates him for dealing playoff-hero Halak to the St. Louis Blues, but everyone should really be hating him for dealing Halak for the relatively unknown Ian Schultz and the unproven Lars Eller, two prospects that may or may not pan out.
Habs management claims that what the team got in return for Halak constituted full market value, but that’s just not the case. Put simply, the Habs got uber-ripped on that one.
Halak getting moved before the Habs were able to sign Price was the second mistake Gauthier made, in the same move no less. Price, as a restricted free agent, now holds the bargaining power as the team’s number-one goalie now.
Some argue that if the Habs had signed Price before they traded Halak, they wouldn’t have had any leverage negotiating a trade involving Halak. But what leverage did they exercise in trading Halak to the Blues? Leverage of the fictitious variety.
The Halak and Desjardins trades prove that the Canadiens are dedicated to Price moving forward. While moving Halak was a quagmire of Mike Milbury proportions, moving Desjardins is not as much a tragedy as it is a benevolent gesture on the part of Habs management to give the young goalie (who is actually older than Price) another chance. Because instead he would have been forced to play second fiddle to Price.
Getting Ramo in return is where Gauthier’s incompetence really shows. Not yet having Price signed one month before training camp? Now that would just be uber-incompetent.
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Name: John Waverly
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