Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

More on Huet

Bob Mckenzie has his say on the Huet thing: he thinks it's just Bob being Bob, but that the Habs GM will "take a lot of heat", especially if Price falters. He also attributes the Hossa deal with Pittsburgh to ownership rather than management: he says it must have been Mario himself pulling the strings on this one, because there's no way Shero would set up a deal like that and pay that kind of price. Most people - not Mario, obviously - would probably agree that a winger is not what Pittsburgh really needed anyhow: how about a really good goalie? or a serious defenceman? Brian Campbell or Adam Foote would have been much better - and cheaper - acquisitions, IMO.

Tough Times in Bytown

John Paddock has been fired by the Ottawa Senators. It's fairly unjust, but I guess, as the old saying goes, you can't fire all the players. Especially after the trade deadline.

Huet Trade

I'm not the only one unhappy with the trade of Cristobal Huet: in an unsurprising turn of events, Olaf Kolzig has gone public with his own complaints about the Capitals' roster moves. Kolzig says, essentially, that his town isn't big enough for himself and another "world-class goaltender", and he doesn't like the message it sends. He goes as far as to suggest he might just take his goalie stick and stay home next year.

I might do the same! After cheering for the Montreal Canadiens my entire life, and spending the better part of the past decade somewhat depressed by their chronic suckiness, I actually allowed myself to get excited about this year's deadline. It was fun to think about them picking up a real scoring threat, even if I didn't particularly want them to pull the trigger. But to have them go into the trade-waters looking for firepower, and come out with significantly less than they had when they went in ... that's disappointing. Bob's defense of the whole thing fails to persuade me.

Michael Farber has a beautifully written critique of the whole Huet fiasco at SI.com. He says everything that I have thought about the trade, but says it much better than I could. No matter how hard I try, all I can seem to come up with is, "$!#!$!, what a stupid %!$#!-ing move!". As angry as I am, though, I wouldn't go so far as to call Bob the Village Idiot, as the Bleacher Report does.

Morning Papers


Big win for the Habs last night, 5-1 over Atlanta. HIO's Dave Stubbs says the Habs "had their way" with the Thrashers, and indeed they handled Atlanta as roughly as an Irish newlywed. Stubbs notes that it was players rumoured to be on the trading block - Higgins, Lapierre, Ryder, Koivu - who stepped it up big in this one, and he's right. Higgins now has 21 goals, despite his supposed lack of hands, and if Ryder keeps up his recent play, then it will turn out that there was no need to trade for a scoring winger.

Pat Hickey focuses on the "Post-Huet Era" angle, viewing the game as the first Carey Price has played as an undisputed NHL number one: judging by the results, Price is willing and able to face the challenge. You get the feeling that the Habs are a tight-knit bunch, which is a real team positive, and this feeling is reinforced by Price's comment that the departure of Huet feels like "losing a big brother". It always seemed that Huet was never threatened by Price, and in fact he always looked pumped when Price would turn in a good game. Price says that Huet "took me under his wing", and left the team a supportive note in the dressing room. All in all, a classy guy who I'm sure is wished well by all Habs fans. And the more I read about the vibe in the Habs' room, the happier I am that they didn't make any major changes.

For another perspective on the state of the Habs post-deadline, check out Red Fisher's excellent and sobering analysis of the Huet trade. He states - and I agree because it is so baldly obvious - that Gainey made a mistake in letting Huet go. There simply wasn't any need; what exactly is this trade meant to accomplish? If you want to go with Price as your number one, then just do it. If you want to commit to youth and free up cap space next year, then play Price, sit Huet, and don't sign him in the summer. But why let him go now? They must have serious plans for that late 2nd round pick - in 2009! - that they got for him, I don't know. Price is just 20 years old, and he's playing for a team that has the potential to make some noise down the stretch. If he falls flat on his face, and the veteran Huet is not there to step in, Bob will have some 'splaining to do ... and I doubt he'll have any answers.

Fisher also give props to Toronto captain Mats Sundin for sticking to his principles and refusing to accept a trade, purely out of loyalty to his team and out of disdain for the rental player concept. There are many Leafs fan, Fisher says, who are angry with Sundin for not letting the team trade him for desperately-needed prospects. That's probably true, but you know there are also thousands of fans who admire his stand and are glad he's sticking around. I'm one, and I hate the Leafs!

The Globe and Mail's Tim Wharnsby counts the Habs as Trade Deadline Losers, and he's right but for the wrong reasons. He says Gainey teased fans by talking openly about adding an impact player, and set the team and city up for a big disappointment. In fact, all Gainey ever said was that if he could add an impact player at the right price, he would, and what GM wouldn't say the exact same thing. I mean, I'll say right now that if I can ever sleep with Scarlett Johansson, I will, but I'm hardly setting myself up for disappointment with that one. No, the Habs lose on the trade front in the simplest way possible: by subtraction. Huet is a big loss, the return is essentially nil, and it was completely unnecessary.

Terry Jones, out in Calgary I think, writes this morning that "fans are livid" with Bob Gainey for trading Huet and missing out on Huet. I don't really think that's accurate at all. I mean, I'm a little pissed about the Huet thing, but I couldn't care less about Hossa.

Habs fans might be wondering what was going on in Gainey's head yesterday, but not Damien Cox of the Toronto Star. He hails the Huet trade as another manifestation of Gainey's guts, vision, and "greatness". This is essentially an envy piece written by a guy who looks at a rival team being run well by a competent and confident leader, then looks at his own team, being driven into the ground by a committee of losers, bean-counters, and fools, and can barely find the will to go on living. The fact that his team is the Leafs and the rival team is the Habs makes this a lovely read. I actually even felt a little better about the Huet trade after reading it, for no rational reason at all.

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