GIVE ME A BREAK


So, Guillaume Latendresse is relieved that he’s no longer a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

Well, you know what, Guillaume?  There are plenty of Habs’ fans who feel the same way.

Talk about taking the low road.  After Latendresse was sent packing to Minnesota yesterday for another underachiever, forward Benoit Pouliot,  number 84 expressed his relief that the Canadiens traded him. It seems Latendresse felt he never got a chance with the Canadiens.

Excuse me???

Am I the only one who remembers when the Canadiens, after making him a second-round pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, rushed Latendresse into the big leagues on the basis of one decent training camp in his first days as a member of Montreal organization???? Does Latendresse not recall that the Canadiens never made him play a single game in the American Hockey League  after his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Drummondville came to an end?

However, Latendresse feels he never got a chance with the Canadiens.

Puh-leeze.

Remember last season? When Latendresse opened the year on a line with Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay, after reporting to camp in terrific shape? He started the season well enough.  I can still recall Koivu telling anyone who would listen that Latendresse was a different player: a player determined to make a difference.

That was before he spent the next 40 games or so drifting aimlessly.

But no. Guillaume Latendresse says he never got a chance with the Montreal Canadiens. 

Give me a break.

To his credit, and I won’t give him very much of it, Latendresse, along with Maxim Lapierre, were two of the most effective and determined players down the stretch last season when nobody on this team seemed to care about making the playoffs. A-ha! Finally. Something to build on.

And then this.  Twenty-three games into his season, Latendresse had a grand total of two goals and one assist.  More disappointing than those numbers, to me, is the fact that Latendresse failed to use that big body of his effectively.

You know why Guillaume Latendresse is now a member of the Minnesota Wild? You need look no further than his final practice as a Hab yesterday at the team’s practice training facility in Brossard, when assistant coach Perry Pearn had to physically place Latendresse in front of the net in an effort to convince him that IT’S A GOOD PLACE TO BE!!!!! Hours later, Latendresse was gone, and relieved to be gone.

The feeling’s mutual.

Latendresse was actually waiting for the axe to fall. He figured his days were numbered because of the emergence of players like Tom Pyatt and Ryan White.  So, instead of putting the pedal to the medal and proving himself, once and for all, Latendresse spent his final days as a member of the Montreal Canadiens looking into the rear-view mirror, and waiting to be traded.

Wow. The mark of a consummate professional.

But, let’s move on, shall we.  Just exactly what kind of hockey player did the Canadiens get in return, in Benoit Pouliot?

Another underachiever: the number 4 pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, just ahead of Carey Price, who has bounced around between the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League.  Pouliot has yet to play a full season in the NHL.  This season, he had two goals and two assists in 14 games before the Wild sent him to Montreal.  He won’t be ready for game action when he arrives today, as a result of a wrist injury.

The book on Pouliot:  a natural talent with a half-hearted work ethic.  But he’s a big body blessed with some pretty good speed and seemed to be putting out a better effort this season. Still, Pouliot had clearly worn out his welcome in Minnesota after arriving with lofty first-round expectations.  And there are some hockey observers in Minnesota who are surprised that the Wild were actually able to get a warm body in return.

It’s a classic case of two underachievers who might benefit from a change of scenery. 

One player who will have a chance to benefit from a change of scenery is Sergei Kostitsyn.  Lost in the shuffle of the trade is the fact that Sergei has been recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs as the Canadiens get set to entertain the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight at the Bell Centre. Sergei rejoins the Habs after putting up 13 points in 16 games in Hamilton. He deserves this second chance.  Or is it a third chance?  Whatever.  It remains to be seen if he makes the best of his latest opportunity.

And Georges Laraque is out five games after being suspended for his knee on knee hit against Nik Kronwall in the game against the Detroit Red Wings over the weekend.  

Gee, what a big loss. (NOT).

What amazes me is that Geoges Laraque continues to get perhaps the biggest ovation from Habs’ fans at the Bell Centre when his smiling face is plastered on the big screen during the player introductions.

I couldn’t tell you why.

 

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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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