Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Jennifer Hedger Almost Makes TSN Bearable
With the Habs on an off-night, I found my mind wandering somewhat, and this is where it ended up as I watched Sportscentre. I found this article, reprinted from a Globe and Mail interview, which some neo-feminist at Canadian Driver has branded "embarrassing": well, I find it quaint and charming, m'self. So what if she's a bad driver who likes to get around in her BMW in stillettos?

Hossa Goes Down

Just barely halfway through his first game in a Pens jersey, Marian Hossa has to leave with an MCL strain. Look for him to be out about six weeks. Can you imagine how you'd feel if Bob Gainey had shelled out a lot for Hossa only to have him bang up his knee on practically his first shift? Yikes. The good news for Pittsburgh is, obviously, that they picked up Hossa for the playoffs, not the regular season, and they'll have him back in plenty of time for the Stanley Cup run.

Buffalo Soldier

The big winner GMs on deadline day were clearly Brett Hull and Don Waddell. Hull managed to pick up number one centre Brad Richards from Tampa Bay in exchange for Dallas's back-up goalie. What a friggin' steal. Yeah, yeah, I know, Mike Smith has a lot of "potential". Whatever. Brad Richards has a lot of "superstar in his prime". Waddell, for his part, managed to parlay Marian Hossa - a UFA after this season - into Angelo Esposito, Colby Armstong, Erik Christenson, and a #1 pick. That's a great return.

As we all know, our own esteemed GM, Canadiens great Bob Gainey acquired no-one at the trade deadline while giving away his number one goalie. *head scratch*
Don't get me wrong. I love Gainey, and don't agree with those who say he must have retired his brain along with his number the other night: In Bob We Trust, and all that. But it's two days after the Huet trade, and I'm still very much, like, "WTF?"

I'm not saying Gainey had to work a miracle, though I am envious that Hull and Waddell were able to do so for their own teams. But at the very least, I would like to think that Bob could have done as well as Buffalo GM Darcy Regier, whose unheralded deadline deal might go down as the shrewdest made this year. Regier traded soon-to-UFA Brian Campbell, a star defenceman, because they couldn't chance watching him walk away this summer, as they had to do with Daniel Briere and Chris Drury last season. But this wasn't a sell-off trade, by any stretch. Somehow, Regier managed to get San Jose to cough up not merely a number one pick, but also emerging forward Steve Bernier. In a sign of things to come, the Sabres responded to the deadline deal with an 8-4 win in their next game against Nashville, with Bernier scoring on his first two shots as a Sabre. Now that's the way to win a trade! Meanwhile, Gainey traded the best goalie dealt on deadline day, and came up with a 2nd round pick. Not exactly Brad Richards, is it?

Huet Meets the Press

The Washington Post covers the introduction of former Montreal Canadien Cristobal Huet (and some guy named Sergei Fedorov) to a throng of Washington's hockey writers and analysts. No, seriously, I heard some reporters actually showed up. Poor Huet: he gets dumped by Montreal, a team he clearly loves, and finds himself smack in an NHL backwater and stuck in yet another instant goaltending controversy. Will it be Huet, Kolzig, or Johnson tomorrow? Stay tuned.

On a related note, isn't it just the biggest joke in the world that Washington gets to have a hockey team? No-one has ever supported it. It has always stunk. And yet there they are, taking up valuable real estate and squandering some of the best talent in the NHL - poor Ovechkin - by keeping him hidden in a building where it is certain he will never be seen and thus truly appreciated. And now they have our goalie too.

Musical Goalies

Further fallout from the Canadiens' goalie moves: Cedric Desjardins has been promoted from Cincinnati of the ECHL to Hamilton, replacing Jaroslav Halak, who has been promoted to Montreal to replace Cristobal Huet, who was traded, of course, to Washington. But Desjardins won't as you might think, be backing-up incumbent Bulldogs' goalie Yan Danis: instead, he's likely to get the majority of the starts down the stretch. Apparently, Gainey regards Desjardins as a better prospect than the 27 year-old Danis. Rollie Melanson, long the goalie coach of the Montreal Canadiens, believes in Danis, but apparently he's not going to get a shot with the Habs.

Goalie Controversy Redux

Jaroslav Halak isn't taking his back-up goalie status for granted, and hey, why should he? The goaltending situation in Montreal is officially insane, and absolutely anything wouldn't surprise. That said, the Habs were determined enough to make Price their starter that (a) they cut Halak instead of Price in training camp, despite the fact that Halak played better, and (b) they traded Huet for the sole purpose of clearing the deck for Price. Management really believes in Price, and it'll take a fair amount for Halak to even begin changing their minds.

Soccer Won't Have Gillett to Kick Around

The Irish-Independent has a story on the disintegrating business partnership between the Dallas Stars' owner Tom Hicks and Canadiens' George Gillett, as they apparently prepare to divest themselves of the Liverpool football club they proudly purchased a couple of years ago. I had been worried that the Liverpool fiasco could cause financial problems or general instability for the Habs, but that doesn't seem to be the way it's trending.

Ghosts of the Living

You'll be reading a lot of stories like this one in coming days, a comparison of the situation of Carey Price today with those of Canadiens' greats Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden in '86 and '71. Montreal GM Bob Gainey's Hail Mary passing-of-the-torch to Carey Price calls to mind the accomplishments of previous rookie goaltenders, like Roy and Dryden, each of whom won the cup in their first year with the big club.

The connections could inspire a certain amount of mystical hope in long-suffering fans, but obviously such hope would be pure superstition. The achievements of Dryden and Roy were not magical: both turned out to be Hall of Fame goalies. To hope that Price can do the same as those two is to hope that he has similar ability, and needless to say, that is probably too much to hope. It is interesting to note, too, that neither Dryden nor Roy came into the NHL with anything like the hype that Price has had, and in fact, both were somewhat unheralded as rookies. Actually, Price has more in common with another Canadiens rookie goalie who, like Price, was a junior star, WJC star, and super-hyped prospect: namely, Jose Theodore, to whom the same Roy/Dryden comparisons were made when he was thrown into the playoffs as a rookie. Obviously, that didn't turn out as well.

The comparisons are obviously ridiculous anyway. How Price fares for the rest of the season and during the playoffs - assuming the Habs make it - has nothing to do with how Roy and Dryden performed twenty or thirty years ago. But I guess it's something to write about.

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