LECAVALIER RUMOURS HEAT UP


As Habs fans anxiously await confirmation that the Tampa Bay Lightning are indeed ready to dispose of Vincent Lecavalier in a fire sale, they are drooling over the prospects of seeing the Montreal-area native in a Canadiens’ uniform.

And Bob Gainey did nothing to dispel that rumour, acknowledging that if the right player came around, at the right price, he would consider it.

And why wouldn’t he?  Bob Gainey is the general manager of this hockey team.  It’s his job to keep his options open and look for ways to improve this club.  It makes all the sense in the world.

But at what cost.

Gainey fielded a number of questions about the Lecavalier rumours yesterday during his mid-season state-of-the-franchise address at the team’s practice facility in Brossard, prior to the players boarding a flight to Boston for tonight’s game against the Bruins.  Gainey says it’s not the team’s policy to discuss trade rumours.

“We prefer to work quietly and, if we do something, then we’ll make an announcement.”

Habs fans are waiting for announcement.  One that involves the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  A trade.  A trade for Vincent Lecavalier, a player Canadiens’ fans have been lusting over, ever since the 28-year-old was made the number 1 pick by Tampa in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.

While we’re dealing with rumours, let’s look at some  of the players rumoured to be on their way to Tampa as part of this so-called “trade”.

Tomas Plekanec.  Chris Higgins.  Josh Gorges. P.K. Subban. And a number of draft picks in return for Vincent Lecavalier and his 11-year, 85-million-dollar contract, that kicks in this July.  Let’s forget about the dollar amounts associated with this deal, because, quite frankly, I’m not a chartered accountant and figures give me a headache.  Let’s talk talent, shall we?

Personally, I have a problem with this proposed “trade.”

Chris Higgins?  I’d be sorry to see him go, but perhaps a change of scenery would help this young man, who seems to have a black cloud hanging over his head in Montreal. 

Tomas Plekanec?  A terrific, gritty, hard-working talent who is having a less-than-terrific year, although he has been showing signs of late.  Expendable, when you consider that you’d be getting Lecavalier to fill his spot at centre.

P.K. Subban?  Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  This personable young man from Toronto has been making huge strides since the Habs made him a second-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  We’ve seen what he can do in junior as a member of the Belleville Bulls, and now we know what he can do on the world stage, with a dominant performance at the recently-completed World Junior Championships in Ottawa.  Don’t forget. Bob Gainey has helped build this team with draft picks, and Subban is looking like a keeper.

Josh Gorges?  This is where it gets even MORE interesting. One year ago, you would have tossed him in, on a such a deal, in a heartbeat.  Not any more.  Gorges is my pick for Habs MVP through the first 41 games of this season.  And on a team that is lacking depth along the blue line, which Gainey himself acknowledged yesterday, he would be sorely missed.  To the point that the Canadiens would be in serious trouble on defence, without adequate compensation from Tampa in return.

Draft picks?  They’re just numbers, right?  A 1st-round pick in 2009, a 1st-round pick in 2010…yadda yadda yadda.  Just numbers, right? 

Wrong.

Max Pacioretty was just a number, too, until the Canadiens selected him in the 1st round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.  And, less than one year removed from college hockey, he’s knocking at the door. Carey Price was just a number, too, when Bob Gainey made the young netminder his number 1 pick, fifth overall, in the 2005 Entry Draft; a move that sent some Canadiens’ fans running for the hills, screaming, “HE DRAFTED A GOALIE!!! BOB GAINEY DRAFTED A GOALIE!!! HOW COULD HE DO THAT?!?!?!” BOB GAINEY HAS THE FIFTH OVERALL PICK AND HE DRAFTS A GOALIE!?!?!?!”

Yes, he drafted a goalie, a young man who is becoming the face of this franchise.

Habs fans need to think about that before mortgaging the future.

Would Bob Gainey be interested in acquiring Vincent Lecavalier from the Tampa Bay Lightning? 

Absolutely.

Would he offer up a blank cheque in return? 

Not on your life. 

Would he send Plekanec, Higgins, Gorges, Subban and a whack of draft picks to Tampa in return for Vinnie?

I wouldn’t.

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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