Some 24 hours after dispatching the popular Steve Begin to Dallas, Canadiens GM Bob Gainey found that depth centreman he was looking for.
And he didn’t have to go far, to get him.
After the Habs arrived in Philadephia for last night’s gme against the Flyers, they announced the acquisition of Glen Metropolit off waivers from the Flyers. Which meant that all Metropolit had to do, was walk across the floor of the Wachovia Center to join his new teammates in the visitors locker room.
Now, Glen Metropolit will never be confused for, say, Vincent Lecavalier. Not when it comes to stature OR talent. At 5-10, 185 pounds, the Toronto native isn’t exactly a “big body” up front. And 12 goals is the best she’s been able to do in a single season at the NHL level. But Gainey clearly saw something in the 34-year old when the veteran became available, making Montreal his 7th NHL stop. Last year, at this time, you may remember Metropolit in a Boston Bruins uniform, and his splendid performance against the Canadiens in the playoffs.
Then he moved on to Philadelphia. And just 55 games in his career as a Flyer, Metropolit became expendable as the Flyers worked toward freeing up some cap space for the return of Daniel Briere to the Philadelphia lineup.
And that is how Metropolit, who’s resume includes stints with the Long Island Jawz, Anaheim Bullfrogs, and the New Jersey Rockin’ Rollers of Roller Hockey fame, became a member of the Montreal Canadiens. Just hours before the Habs were set to take on his former team.
Fast forward to the start of last night’s game, and head coach Guy Carbonneau wasted little time in going to his latest acquisition. Metropolit opened the game on a (short-lived) line with Alex Kovaelv and Gregory Stewart. And the Flyers responded with Joffrey Lupul beating Jaroslav Halak just 28 seconds in, to make it 1-0 Philly.
Mike Richards then made it 2-0 some eight minutes later, and the Flyers were off and running, right?
After starting the game like gangbusters, Philly goalie Antero Nittymaki lost his game, while the Canadiens found theirs. It was Tomas Plekanec with his 17th of the season on the power play at 16:25 to make it 2-1 Philly; Plekanec extending his goal-scoring streak to five games since his recent suspension. Tom Kostopoulus tied the game just 13 seconds later with a goal from an impossible angle, before the rejuvenated Alex Kovalev (one goal and two assists on the night) put the Habs ahead with his 15th, late in the frame.
Simon Gagne tied it up midway through the second, a period which saw the Flyers outshoot the Habs 18-5; and a period which also saw the Canadiens weather a couple of 5 on 3 Philadelphia power plays. The two teams eventually went to overtime. And with Scottie Upshall in the box for running the crease, Mathieu Schneider cranked one up from the point, past Nittymaki, to propel the Canadiens to their third straight win: for the first time since early in the New Year.
As for the newest Hab, he finished with 11:47 of ice time, winning 60 per cent of his faceoffs in the process.
Now, Metropolit, who looks and sounds like Brian Smolinki (it’s eerie, I tell ya), might not be the answer to Habs fans’ prayers as Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline looms ever larger. But, true to his word, Gainey has gone out and filled what he felt was a need at centre by plucking the veteran off waiver wires. That’s not to say that Gainey has put the phone down, for good, when it comes to conversations with other GM’s around the league over the next three days.
But I’m here to tell you that I believe Bob Gainey has put his phone down, for good, when it comes to conversations with other GM’s around the league, over the next three days.