Seems like everyone in the hockey world is anxious to see Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr get together on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement by Thursday so that both sides can save Bettman’s vesion of an 82-game schedule.
What’s the rush?
Bettman has said that a new deal needs to be done by this Thursday if the league is to go ahead with a full season of NHL hockey, beginning November 2nd. The league has already cancelled games through Nov. 1st, so clearly there is very little wiggle room here.
I can appreciate why Bettman has pulled out his stop watch in an effort to get the players to agree to the league’s latest offer. But like I said:
What’s the rush? Would a 72-game season be so bad??
Yes, an 82-game schedule would be nice. Delightful, even. And, like I said, I can appreciate why Bettman would want to get a deal done sooner, rather than later. But it seems to me that Bettmen (and Donald Fehr, for that matter) has bigger fish to fry (pun intented): like getting back to the bargaining table. And talking. Really talking. And if that conversation, should it take place, continue through Thursday, well, who cares.
Just negotiate, already. I mean, seriously. Get on the same page, and get a deal done.
Stop with the Monty Hall “Let’s Make a Deal” school of negotiating: as Fehr pulled out not one, not two, but THREE proposals for the league to chew on last week. (Pick me, Gary! Pick me!!) None of the proposals were particularly tasty, and Bettman spit them right back at the union.
Oh. And by the way. It’s not often that we hear the words “Bettman” and “Brilliant” used in the same sentence: but, after pleading with Fehr to show the owners something, anything, Bettman takes the bull by the horns and presents an offer that, if nothing else, scores plenty of brownie points with the fans. Two points for Bettman in the public relations battle. A nice piece of work by the Commish, for what it was worth.
So, he we are. Thirty-five days into the lockout, with no new talks scheduled. Bill Daly and Steve Fehr did chat yesterday over the phone. How nice. How about Gary and Don get on the phone? That would be swell. If they can actually get a deal done this week, even sweller.
But let’s set aside the concept of an 82-game season for now, shall we, and simply work on saving the season. Period.
Trevor Timmins admits there was uncertainty surrounding his future with the Montreal Canadiens after Marc Bergevin was hired to take over as general manager of club during the off season. However Timmins feels Bergevin put that to rest as soon as he came in.
“It’s great to have stability and to move forward with this great franchise, ” said Timmins from the Czech Republic where he has been taking in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
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Yesterday the Canadiens announced they had extended Timmins’ contract as he prepares to go into season number 11 with the organization.
“I left Ottawa to come here to help the team win a Stanley Cup. That goal hasn’t been accomplished yet. I’m looking forward to helping meet that goal.”
Timmins has received rave reviews for the work the Canadiens did going into the June Draft, and the players they came away with: including first-round pick Alex Galchenyuk.
“I just hope all these people are right.,” said Timmins with a chuckle “I’m extremely happy today. If we’re this happy in five years from now, we’ll look back and say that was one heck of a draft.”
As the NHL trade deadline approaches, don’t count me among those who want to see general manager Pierre Gauthier blow up this team and start from scratch.
Never mind whether or not you think Gauthier should still be in charge at this point. The fact of the matter is: He IS. And as long as the Canadiens are alive and kicking in the race for a playoff spot in the East, I think Gauthier should go out there and do everything he can to improve this team’s prospects for this season.
And that does NOT include going into “fire sale” mode.
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Move over P.K. Subban, you’ve got plenty of company.
On a night when Subban stepped up to take his share of the blame for the Canadiens 5-1 loss in Chicago, there were plenty of Habs who should have stepped forward and taken responsibility.
“Looking at myself, I think I cost our team two games in a row,” said Subban.
Yes, Subban was minus two for the second straight game, but he was not alone in that department: Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges and Travis Moen were all minus THREE as the Canadiens dropped their fourth straight; the third in a row in the Randy Cunneyworth era; leaving Cunneyworth looking for his first win as the Canadiens’ INTERIM bench boss. The list goes on: Campoli, Kaberle, Desharnais and Pacioretty were all minus two.
Jacques Martin bashers were dancing in the streets last night. At least up until around 9:45 p.m., when the siren went on a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.
Some 12 hours after General Manager Pierre Gauthier fired Martin, the Habs took to the ice with Randy Cunneyworth at the helm. Cunneyworth was named interim head coach after Gauthier had determined that the results he was seeing on the ice were unacceptable.
Funny. That’s a word I would use to describe last night’s effort, as well: unacceptable. After Gauthier pointed a finger squarely at Martin and the team’s inability to hold a lead, the Canadiens promptly went out and blew another lead: this one, a 3-2 advantage that Montreal had built up through the opening 30 minutes of last night’s hockey game.
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Three years into their run as team mates on the Montreal Canadiens, it’s time for the three players who helped redefine this team in the summer of 2009, to pay some serious dividends as a group.
I’m referring to Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri. While at the team’s annual golf tournament today, two of them, in fact, Gomez and Cammalleri, made reference to this being year three; year three of Bob Gainey’s five-year plan. You remember Bob Gainey, don’t you? The then-general manager who literally changed the face of this hockey club in the span of 48 hours by first trading for Gomez, and then signing the likes of Cammalleri and Gionta via the free-agent route.
I will long remember that day: July 1st, 2009. While Gainey worked the phones in his office, reporters were parked in the media room at the team’s practice facility at Brossard waiting for news. And the news came with dizzying speed as we were greeted with press release after press release on a day that was highlighted by the acquisition of Cammalleri and Gionta. Those moves, coupled with the decision by Gainey to set people like Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Alex Tanguay adrift, led to what was nothing short of a remarkable off-season transformation.
You literally couldn’t tell the players without a program.
But that was then. This is now. And we know the players, all right.
We know Brian Gionta as the captain of this hockey club; a gritty, determined and productive member of this team who had “Captain” written all over him in his first days at training camp.
We know Michael Cammalleri as an offensively gifted player who looked to be on pace for a 40-goal season in his first year in Montreal, before the injury bug took a bite out of his season; and the following season. We also know him as a player who seemed to “give up” on the play far too often last season, particularly when asked to play on the defensive side of the puck.
And we know Scott Gomez as — well — Scott Gomez and his $7 million yearly contract. We know him as a notoriously slow starter who proved to be one the Habs’ most productive players in the second half of the season, two years ago. Last season his notoriously slow start covered 82 games. For the record, at today’s golf tournament, Gomez said he had turned the corner on his disappointing 2010-11 season, and had worked hard to prepare himself for this season.
Obviously, they’re not alone. We’ll also see if newcomer Erik Cole can live up to his off-season billing as a big body who can put up some numbers. We’ll also see if Tomas Plekanec can shake off a so-so second half season and perform like the player who lit it up in the first half of the campaign. We’ll also see Lars Eller is ready for prime time; if Andrei Kostitsyn can finally deliver a first-line performance on a consistent basis, or if he’s destined to be a third-liner (or worse.)
And on it goes as we assess this team’s chances for the upcoming season. We haven’t even touched the team’s defence or goaltending (a conversation for another day.)
Me? I’m waiting to see what Messrs Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez, three veteran talents, bring to the rink, game in, and game out. I’m waiting to see if they can finally come together as team mates and take this club by the scruff of its neck, and lead it to the promised (playoff) land.
Three years? It’s time.
One of the hardest-working guys in (NHL) showbiz has been rewarded for his efforts. The Canadiens have signed Mathieu Darche to a new one-year contract that will pay him a reported $700,000. The deal follows a 2010-2011 season which saw the 34-year-old Montreal native score a personal-high 12 goals last season.
Now, 12 goals isn’t necessarily something to write home about. But, in my books, Darche’s 12 goals carry more weight than the 20 that Andrei Kostitsyn, who re-signed yesterday, scored last season. Each and every one of the 26 points that Darche produced last season, in 59 games, came with a ton of effort. Darche was rewarded for his hard work with time on the power play and he produced two goals while playing with the man advantage. He is one of the few players on this Habs’ team who knows where the opposing net is, and is willing to pay the price by parking that big body of his, in front of it.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with Mathieu Darche,” said GM Pierre Gauthier. “Mathieu is a classy veteran player who displays great leadership and determination, and we strongly believe he can help us achieve our goals in the upcoming season.”
Some Habs fans wondered out loud why the Canadiens bothered to offer Darche a contract last season, and further wondered how this career American Hockey League player could help this team. Well, I think it’s pretty clear why the Canadiens bothered to offer Darche a contract last season, and how he can help this team. And it’s good to see that he’ll get a chance to help this team, again, next season.
On a wind-swept day in the Laurentian mountains, Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey held court just outside the St. Jovite arena while, inside, the Habs were putting the finishing touches on two days’ worth of scrimmages. It was then that the Canadiens’ GM casually disclosed that the team had agreed to a contract extension with head coach Guy Carbonneau.
No news conference. No formal announcement. Which suited the coach just fine.
“I don’t believe having a press conference to announce that the coach has signed a contract,” said Carbonneau after practice. “I’m just happy when Bob approached me this summer that he wanted to get something done before the start of the season.”
Although neither Gainey nor Carbonneau would announce the terms of the deal, the phrase “three-year extension” crept into Carbo’s conversation, if somewhat cryptically, when he talked of what the new deal meant to him.
“The extension isn’t going to change my style…feel maybe a little bit more comfortable, maybe. But I’ve seen about eight coaches last year get fired with contracts in their hands, so, I’m going to keep on working.”
Carbonneau has been working at it behind the bench since May 5, 2006, when he took over as head coach of this club after initially joining the team in January of that year as an associate coach. In two full seasons running the show, Carbonneau’s Canadiens are 89-59-16. This season, after acquiring the likes to Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang and Georges Laraque, the Canadiens are serious Cup contenders. However, Gainey is hesitant to go down that road in his assessment of this team.
“We all want to win the Stanley Cup,” said Gainey. “But it’s like asking me how I’ll feel at the 26th mile of a marathon. You’ve got to get there. You can’t sprain an ankle. You can’t get dehydrated. You have to get there.”
Before the Canadiens can “get there,” there must first take to the ice for tomorrow night’s final pre-season game at the Bell Centre against the Minnesota Wild. Then, the final cuts must come as the team gets to the 23-man roster limit. With youngsters Max Pachioretty and Yannik Weber still in camp, there is much speculation that one, if not both, might still be with the team by the end of the weekend. Although injuries could come into play, especially with Francis Bouillon expected to miss the first week of regular-season action and Georges Laraque nursing a sore groin that has kept him out of the entire pre-season slate, it would appear that Gainey has made up his mind about the two aforementioned young men.
“Whether it’s Pachioretty or Weber, with those very young players it’s what’s best for their growth, what’s going to make them get to the NHL quickly, but prepared and ready,” explained Gainey. “And it isn’t just getting here quickly that’s the answer.”
Gainey went on to use the example of Sergei Kostitsyn of one year ago.
“When he got here (from Hamilton), he was a producer. He added to our team.”
The GM says there is a lot to learn in the minors. “It’s a learning experience that not everybody needs, but I don’t really see how it can be negative for anybody.”
If you read between the lines, as of this moment, Pachioretty and Weber are ticketed to the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.
And speaking of lines, there they were at the St. Jovite arena for today’s session:
Laraque? There will be a spot for him when the puck drops on the regular season. Pachioretty and Weber? They were on the ice today, but, barring injuries, don’t look for them to be on the ice when the Canadiens do it for real Friday night in Buffalo, against the Sabres.