While his old team, the Detroit Red Wings, spent the day preparing to play host to the Chicago Black Hawks in game one of the Western Final this afternoon, Mathieu Dandenault of the Montreal Canadiens spent HIS day, yesterday, at an amusement park.
But clearly, he wasn’t amused.
Dandenault was on hand for the opening ceremonies which kicked off the summer season at La Ronde. Obviously, he would rather still be playing hockey. But the Boston Bruins spoiled those plans when they swept the Habs in four in the opening round of playoff action.
So now, Mathieu Dandenault waits for a phone call that might never come, from general manager Bob Gainey.
Truth be told, Gainey has bigger fish to fry than Mathieu Dandenault, as the Habs’ GM looks to come to grips with 10 players who stand to become unrestricted free agents on this Cananadiens’ roster, as of July 1st. You wouldn’t consider Dandenault to be among Gainey’s priorities, not when the Montreal GM stands to lose the likes of Alex Kovalev, Mike Komisarek, Mathieu Schneider, Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang to free agency. Let us hope, however, that re-signing Dandenault is a bigger priority than, let’s say, bringing Patrice Brisebois back into the fold. There are those who are probably hoping that Gainey makes Dandenault a priority ahead of big Mike Komisareak, what with the sub-bar season that Komisarek had, and the salary that number eight will demand on the open market.
Indeed, it was back in March, that Dandenault, himself, ended up on the open market, with Gainey making the veteran available to teams at the NHL trade deadline. There were no takers, which was a good thing for the Montreal Canadiens, and ended up being a good thing for Mathieu Dandenault.
You see, Mathieu Dandenault would like to remain a member of the Montreal Canadiens. “So what”, you ask? Well, over the years, as Bob Gainey has found out, in his effort to lure UFA’s to this town, precious few players have made Montreal their number one destination.
Remember where Mats Sundin ended up, despite a full-court press by Gainey to sign the former Leaf? Not Montreal.
Daniel Briere before him? Not Montreal.
And Brendan Shanan before HIM? Not Montreal.
The list goes on and on.
Mathieu Dandenault originally signed with the Habs as a free agent, and wants to remain in Montreal. There’s something to be said about that. But there’s more to be said about the way this veteran handled himself last season; a season which saw him miss a ton of action because of a serious arm injury, and a season which saw him emerge as one of the most effective players on this team, down the stretch. All because no one wanted him at the trade deadline.
“I enjoy this city, I enjoy this town, I enjoy the fans,” said Dandenault yesterday.
“I’ve had some good times in the last four years. But we’ll see what happens. It’s got to come from both sides of the table. The one thing is, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done and to have been part of this great organization and hopefully it continues.”
Dandenault has good reason to feel proud of his contributions as a member of this team. Last season, it didn’t matter if he was playing with Chris Higgins and Glen Metropolit on the so-called “shutdown line”, or on the blueline, where he belongs, Dandenault was a valuable contributor at a time when there were way too many passengers on this Montreal club. But please. If Dandenault DOES return as a Hab next season, put him back on the blueline, where he spent most of his time winning not one, not two, but THREE Stanley Cups as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Ah yes. The Detroit Red Wings. Dandenault’s old team, still playing hockey.
Dandeanult’s NEW team? We’ll know the answer to THAT, and other questions, in the weeks ahead.