Friday, July 5, 2013

Habs: No Sale

Auto'd Robinson jersey. Eat your hearts out!
Before you settle down with your adult beverage or coffee to read this blog, notice the part of my banner that says "love / hate". This is not a "love" blog.

It's also not a projection blog. This is about where the Habs are at now, TODAY, as I eyeball their roster and sigh repeatedly. I don't know what, if anything, Marc Bergevin will do in the future. I only know what he has done right now.

You have to understand I've paid my dues. I've been a fan since my father used to drag me to the Habs games to watch Robinson and LaFleur, back before the old Montreal Forum was desecrated for a movie theatre and some overpriced souvenir shops.

I try to censor my vitriol when it comes to my own team. Sometimes. Other times, not so much. I'm human and I fail and twitter is "insta-reaction", which is why I waited a good 24 hours to blog anyway.

Go ahead and disagree with me. Just mind your P's and Q's while you do it.

Daniel F. Briere

My long-standing dislike of this player aside, he will be 36 at season's start and coming off a career worst season.

Here's the first argument I've heard in favour of Briere: He's a proven clutch playoff performer.

Except cast your eyes down the Habs lineup and behold:

Pacioretty - Desharnais - Briere
Bourque - Plekanec - Gionta
Galchenyuk - Eller - Gallagher
Moen - Prust - Parros

Subban - Gorges
Markov - ??? until Emelin gets back
Boullion - ??? Drewiske? Tinordi? until Diaz gets back

Also prevalent on twitter and overriding this whole Briere thing is the fact that: Habs were not expected to win the division last season and likely won't contend until 2016-2017; Bergevin is on record as building through the draft AND bringing back Francophone players as a priority; Habs likely won't make the playoffs next season, especially given that the division just got a whole lot tougher after UFA madness.

I'm on record as saying that the Habs weren't as bad as their last place finish 2 seasons ago would have indicated. I think the fact that they won the division last season does not automatically equate to a playoffs berth again this season. And given how the division just got a lot tougher based on UFA day alone, I'm not confident at all that given this current roster the Habs will get anywhere near a playoffs berth.

And if the Habs are not in a playoff berth next season, isn't that a regression? Am I supposed to like that?

RIGHT NOW... They are brutally vulnerable down the right wing and also thru the centre, though to a lesser extent.

Briere is generously listed at 5 ft 10 to which I say "only with skates". He is soft. He shows the same willingness to battle for the puck and play responsible defensively as David Desharnais, which is to say, none at all.

He is a one way, aging, soft player with declining offense who MAY help us IF we longshot into the post-season. But apparently I'm to believe that he can be the one player who will trend upwards in his declining years in direct contrast to every other player in the NHL ever.

Speaking of Desharnais, expect him to get the newest Habs sniper on his line. Briere is too poor defensively to force Brian Gionta off Tomas Plekanec's wing, and Lars Eller has his fair share of defensive responsibilities too.

Like Desharnais, Briere will get prime minutes and lots of choice assignments.

Here's the second argument for Briere, and probably my favorite: He's gone in two years and it's an acceptable cap hit, so he won't hurt us.

"He won't hurt us." This is your ringing endorsement for this player? "He won't hurt us."

Also, I hate the cap hit too. See point number four.

Here's the third: Veteran leadership.

I've never actually heard this term in conjunction with this player before, even given that RDS has been driving membership to the Daniel Briere Fan Club for pretty much EVER, and I'm not sure it's fair to equate NHL tenure with veteran leadership.

If that's the case why aren't we focused on Ray Whitney? He's older than dirt and still skating.

Onto number four: He's just a bridge / placeholder until the prospects are ready.

At four million a season for two years - an over 35 contract with a nifty No Movement Clause - that is an expensive placeholder. You think he gets that much if his name is Danny Brier from Saskatchewan? And why not spend that money on a kid that can grow with the team as opposed to one killing time before retirement if you don't actually expect to contend?

Who would I have rather seen than Briere? Well, Michael Ryder, who did just fine on Plekanec's wing, just signed with Jersey for a half million per season less than Briere. So there you go.

And for the record, I'm no fan of Ryder either, but he didn't just have a crap year and he's bigger than the 5 ft 8 Briere actually is when you don't count the skates.

And no, I don't like Ryder better because he's a Newfoundlander any more than I like Briere any better because he's a Francophone. In case you are lost on this point, I am half-Newfoundlander, half-Quebecer.

I despise politics, and when you mix it with hockey my blood pressure goes nuclear.

The cream on Briere for me is the lip service about always wanting to come to Montreal, etc.

I would have had more respect if he'd just said something about how no superstar Francophone hockey player in their right mind wants to come to the Habs until their twilight years because basically if the fans don't eat you, the media will and as you get older you realize what's really truly important, like the paycheque.

On that note, Mikhail Grabovski's exit interview is probably the single best hockey player interview I've ever read and suddenly I actually like the guy. But then again I'm a "call a spade a spade" type of gal.

Brian Gionta

Apparently the fact that the Habs captain is injured is not a hinderance to his being dealt. Neither is his No Movement Clause.

All that has to happen is that Gio accept being unceremoniously dumped (though we'll be nice and try to ship him back to New Jersey to play with his brother, etc.) and graciously agree to waive his NTC. And New Jersey will apparently be feeling generous as hell and waive the medical portion of the trade and welcome him and his $5 million dollar per year cap hit back with open arms.

Unceremoniously dumping their hard working and veteran leader captain will also not reflect badly on the Montreal Canadiens, who for years now have had trouble attracting high quality free agents, and everyone will come rushing to us to sign now that we have cleared more cap space.

We don't need old, small, aging, injury prone veteran leadership with declining offense unless his name is Daniel Briere. Gionta doesn't count, even if he is defensively more responsible and gives it all with his every shift regardless of how hurt he is.

SERIOUSLY? Don't do anymore drugs, okay? Just stop it. Or else share with the rest of us.

Also, maybe you want to do some research on what a no movement clause in hockey actually is, and why everyone wants one.

George Parros

In order to protect Brandon Prust fully, Parros is going to have to figure out how to prevent Prust from tossing himself head first into the boards on an icing call.

OK I jest, but in the thing about Parros is this - he's reactionary. Meaning that he will take exception and beat down players who dare to target the Habs smaller players, etc. Did Horton and company give people pause about targeting the Bruins players? If so, why are they gone?

If he makes the team feel better, great. Other than that, I can't really care. As for giving opponents pause, I would like some data to back that up. Do teams engage less when there's a bruiser on the squad?

With a bunch of midgets, Parros will be spending a lot of time in the box, especially given their division rivals. On the plus side, I hope to see a lot less of Travis Moen on the ice.

So there's that I guess.

Marc Bergevin

I'd like to see him use something other than "character" to justify a signing, trade, draft pick, or quality nose-picking.

I'd like to see Geoff Molson go ahead and pay out the big money for that thesaurus. Go ahead, Geoff. I'll contribute $5 myself!

I don't have enough booze for the drinking contests anymore. I thought Pierre Gauthier's over-use of the word "Monsieur" was bad. I think Bergevin beat him with the word "character" in a lot less time. Props to Bergevin I guess, but my liver hates you both.

How about "talent" and "organizational need"? Those are good words too. In fact, you used organizational need when talking about drafting Michael McCarron in the first round this year.

You talked about size. Then you went ahead and traded for wee Christian Thomas and landed wee Daniel Briere. You also re-upped a diminutive and defensively weak centre in David Desharnais.

I'm tired of hearing about how the Habs apparently had no character whatsoever and how to go out and buy all of it.

On the Plus Side

I like the kids. I like the IDEA of where the Canadiens are headed. It's not all doom and gloom.

BUT I worry about wee Gally who, while playing like a much bigger player, is not a much bigger player and already suffered a concussion last season. He took a helluva pounding last year. Do you all honestly expect him to keep this up without damage indefinitely?

You can only throw yourself against the rocks so long before you start to break.

My issue is not with small players in and of themselves, but too many of them, and too many one dimensional ones, especially as place holders. Gallagher does not qualify here.

I like a lot of the prospects, even McCarron, not because he's big but because he projects higher than I initially thought. I love Zachary Fucale. I am a Halifax Mooseheads fan, and I've watched this kid play live and in person a few times now.

I have faith in Trevor Timmins. I still have faith in Marc Bergevin, although I desperately wish he'd get some new schtick.

And I will cheer for the Habs - all of them - even the ones I have little to no use for or faith in - because thus I have always done and thus I will always do. I give props when due. I did it for Desharnais. I will do it for Briere.

BUT... No Sale

I'm not RDS. I don't blow smoke up anyone's arse. At least not without a substantial bribe and last I checked the Habs didn't GAF what I thought as long as I shut up and buy their gear and tickets.

And that is where I choose to draw the line. I will watch and yes, continue to cheer, but you ain't getting my money anymore.

I suppose I should be grateful that the Habs are rebuilding so quickly under Bergevin, as opposed to Bob Gainey's 5 year plan that really turned out to be a lot longer.

I'm not paying in excess of $300 a pop for seats to watch a team that I am supposed to accept will not legitimately contend until 2016-2017. I'll buy tickets then.

I'm not paying in excess of $300 a pop for seats to watch a team that for over 20 years now has told me to have faith, be patient, wait another 3 years while I watch division rivals - in an outburst of stupidity - still somehow manage to get better.

I'm not paying in excess of $300 a pop for seats to watch a team that belongs to a league that wiped out half a season for no good reason other than to disrespect the sport and its fans and jack up prices to justify their idiotic contracts, having learned nothing at all while subjecting us to the dramatic equivalent of a pissing contest.

Yes, I'm bitter. I'm jaded. I'm tired of being told to "wait and see".

WTF do you expect? I'm a Habs fan on UFA day.

Status quo.

ETA - Had to edit cause I'm a bit tipsy. Also the fireworks outside the window are distracting.


  1. Am I celebrating in the streets of Euclid over Briere? (ou Brière, s'il tu plait) Heck, no. But, Roz, what's Bergy supposed to do if the players we want to be here don't want to be here? I suppose there's always chloroform and hypnosis ...

  2. LOL @ chloroform and hypnosis. Who wants them to be here? The fans? We don't count. Management? We need to get back to winning, and perhaps then they'll actually want to be here. I'm more concerned as to how they actually FIT into the roster. I don't see how another smallish player, aging and declining no less, actually FITS. If management thinks he fits, great. I hope to be proven wrong. Until then, I have enough memories on bad fits to remain jaded. See Gomez, Scott and Kaberle, Tomas for prime examples. Thanks Janet!


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