Georges Laraque is eyeing a comeback in the NHL.
“You never know, it could even be Montreal,” said the former Hab. “Gainey’s gone, Gauthier’s gone.” “It’s a matter of going to the right team. I have no idea where it could be.”
In January 2010, then-GM Bob Gainey informed Laraque that his services were no longer needed. Now, two years later, with his bad back healthy again, according to Laraque, he says he’s ready to find out if there is a market for his services.
“I have a chance to change the way things ended,” said Laraque. “I have something to prove.”
Laraque says it was “awesome” playing for Michel Therrien as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“He will make sure that the little small Canadiens’ team that was taken advantage of by clubs like the Bruins and the Flyers…that’s not going to happen with him as the coach.”
Laraque says he’s instructing his agent to reach out to NHL clubs to find out who might be interested in his services.
GEORGES LARAQUE IN HIS WORDS:
Randy Cunneyworth has entered into his final week as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
Interim head coach, that is.
Cunneyworth and the Canadiens play host to Tampa Wednesday night. Then they’re off to Carolina to take on the Hurricanes Thursday night, before they return home to close out the season Saturday night against the Leafs.
Saturday night hockey against the Maple Leafs. Remember when games like that meant something!?!?
But I digress.
I suspect Cunneyworth will get a chance to address the media on garbage bag day, when the players will report to Brossard to clean out their lockers before scattering to the four corners of the globe.
In past seasons, management would also meet with the media at the conclusion of the season for a formal post-mortem. But it seems to me that team owner Geoff Molson essentially held the post-mortem last Thursday; the day he anounced the dismissal of Pierre Gauthier as general manager of this team.
Which brings us back to Randy Cunneyworth.
You can speculate all you want as to who the next head coach of this team will be. The only person who knows who the next coach of the Canadiens will be, is the next general manager of this hockey team. There is absolutely no reason to believe that Cunneyworth will be given an opportunity to hang on to his job. Not with the team bringing on a new GM. And certainly not with the way the Canadiens threw him under the bus when he was named to replace Jacques Martin.
You could also make a case that Cunneyworth doesn’t deserve to be considered for the position, based on how the team performed under his watch. But then again, how would you expect the players to react to a lame-duck coach?
Regardless, Randy Cunneyworth deserved better. He took one for the team when he agreed to take over behind the bench. And he was further left twisting in the wind with five games left, when the Canadiens fired the guy who gave him the head-coaching gig: Pierre Gauthier.
As Randy Cunneyworth soldiers on over the remaining three games, he does so with his CV tucked in his back pocket.
His answer when I asked him if he plans to re-apply for the job he’s held since mid-December:
If it’s personality that Habs’ fans are looking for from the next general manager of this team, the Canadiens should go out and hire Don Rickles to keep the masses happy.
I hear he’s available. You hockey puck.
I think it’s a given that Pierre Gauthier will not be back as GM next season. And although it’s easy to question some of the moves he’s made since taking over from Bob Gainey, many Habs fans — and many in the media — seem to be hung up with Gauthier’s personality; the same way that Jacques Martin wasn’t exciting enough behind the bench.
The Leafs’ Brian Burke could be available, sooner, rather than later (although I suspect it’ll be later). Burke, who has never met a microphone he didn’t like, is a terrific quote. And I’ll be the first to admit that, on the day Randy Carlyle was named head coach of the Leafs — prior to a game against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre — it was refreshing to listen to Burke speak with passion, conviction and candor. He’s a guy who certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.
However, last time I checked, the Leafs have finished out of the playoffs, yet again. I wonder how Burke’s act is playing in Toronto, these days.
If you want to complain about the fact that Pierre Gauthier went out and picked up the washed-up Tomas Kaberle, go ahead. If you believe Gauthier could have done a whole lot better than Rene Bourque when he sent Michael Cammalleri packing, you’d be making a valid point.
However, if you are hung up over the fact that Pierre Gauthier calls his players “Mr.”, isn’t quick with a quip, and often sounds like he’s reading from the back of a cereal box, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
You’re also going to be very disappointed when the Habs skip over someone like Pierre Mcguire in favour of someone like, let’s just say, for arguments sake, Julien Brisebois, when it comes to replce P.G. as the G.M. of this club.
I’m here all week. Try the veal.
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If we can all agree that Pierre Gauthier’s tenure as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens will come to an end at the end of the season, then it should come as absolutely no surprise that he walked away from the trade table with only significant move under his belt today: a deal that sends Andrei Kostitsyn to Nashville for a 2nd-round pick in 2013.
From all accounts, Gauthier’s day at the office is done.
It would be hard to imagine Gauthier getting carte blanche to overhaul this team if he’s not going to be around next season to see this thing through. That’s not to say, of course, that Gauthier WON’T be back next season. But if I were a betting man…
I know plenty of Habs fans were clamouring for the team to jettison players like Tomas Kaberle, Chris Campoli, SCOTT GOMEZ, among others. But seriously, why would there be any takers for ANY of those players???
It’s called supply and demand. And the Canadiens have a large supply of players that there was no demand for.
In addition, those of you fretting that the Canadiens might deal players like Tomas Plekanec, PK Subban or Erik Cole can breath easier right about now. The Habs did NOT throw the baby out with the bath water.
More decisions will be made at the end of the season (the end is near!!!) when it comes to keeping, or signing, unrestricted free agents. Those decisions will not be made by Pierre Gauthier. And the players who end up on this team next season will not be coached by Randy Cunneyworth.
If I were a betting man.
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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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Exit Michael Cammalleri in a stunning turn of events involving number 13 and the Montreal Canadiens over the last 24 hours: pulled mid-game in Boston and shipped back to Calgary for Rene Bourque in a deal that also involves prospects and draft picks.
When I think of Michael Cammalleri in a Habs jersey, I think of the expectations, and a promise of greatness: we saw flashes of that from Cammalleri during his brief stay in Montreal. A terrific first season in Montreal before the injury bug bit. Habs fans wondered if he might be on course for a 40-goal season that year. There was that terrific playoff two seasons ago, and a solid, if brief, playoff run last season.
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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(…with apologies to that very funny guy eating chicken wings on that TV commercial.)
Tomas Kaberle picks up two assists — one of them on a POWER PLAY GOAL (yes, I’m shouting) in his Habs’ debut as the Canadiens beat the Jersey Devils 2-1 Saturday afternoon.
Great. Two assists. Tomas Kaberle is money in the bank. Or at least he was, in his opening 60 minutes as a member of the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. Personally, I’d like to see what we’re going to get out of Kaberle for the rest of the regular season and (dare I say it) into the playoffs.
Kaberle took to the ice in New Jersey after being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes (who were only too happy to get his fat salary off the books) in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek. And wouldn’t you know it: Spacek picks up two assists in HIS first game as a member of Kirk Muller’s Hurricanes, be it in a losing cause.
Spacek was into his final season as a member of the Canadiens: obtained during the off-season of massive change as an unrestricted free agent; during the same wave which saw Bob Gainey pick up the likes of Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri as UFA’s. Spacek was a solid citizen with the Habs during his stay in Montreal — although he spent much of this season in sick bay. I don’t think he ever delivered as per the expectations when Canadiens signed him. A few too many sketchy defensive moments and not enough offensive upside: but, by and large, I have no problems with his record as a member of the Habs.
The fact that the Canadiens sent him to Carolina for Kaberle tells me three things: GM Pierre Gauthier was desperate to shore up his power play with a defenceman who can move the puck and get a decent shot away from the point; that we’ll be lucky if we see Andrei Markov play a game this season, before the playoffs (just a hunch on my part); and Yannick Weber has taken a step back in his development in becomming a full-time blueliner on this team.
Although I’m less than impressed wit the deal that brings Kaberle and his contract to Montreal, I do give Gauthier credit in going out there and making a deal for a player he truly believes will help this team. Gauthier put his money where his mouth is. The question is: was it money well spent. I have my serious doubts.
I may be in the minority here, but I like what general manager Pierre Gauthier has done to this Canadiens’ team. I would have liked it more, had he addressed the club’s need for “team toughness”, as former coach Guy Carbonneau used to put it. Someone like a Chris Neil, or a (wait for it) Sean Avery. However, Gauthier’s big move during the off-season was the signing of free-agent forward Erik Cole who seems to have found a home on the 3rd line (?) if the opening game against the Leafs is any indication.
Cole didn’t come cheap. But free agents never do, especially when they come to Montreal.
Gauthier has made some nice acquisitions in his time as GM; Dominic Moore, Jeff Halpern and James Wisniewski to name just a few. You could make an argument for trying to make an attempt to keep all three of them in town, but all three left almost as quickly as they arrived. I would put Chris Campoli in that category as well, as a solid find; a poor-man’s Wisniewski, if you will. Then there’s Rafael Diaz, who could end up finding a permanent home along the blueline this season, and for good reason. The odd man out could be Alexei Emelin, who doesn’t appear to be ready for prime time, despite all the hype, and all the playing time, in Russia.
I do, however, have an issue with the way the Canadiens have handled Andrei Markov’s off-season. It seems pretty clear to me that Markov suffered what can only be described as a setback in his rehab following knee surgery. The Canadiens should have been on Markov like a hawk in the months following his surgery, and, for the life of me, I can not understand how the Habs let their $17.25 million dollar investment get into this predicament. The season has started, and Markov isn’t even skating with the team yet.
Did I mention that Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill aren’t getting any younger? Actually, I’m fine with the decision to keep Gill around. I wasn’t fine with much of what I saw out of Spacek last season.
PK Subban is a superstar in the making, and will only get better, if he can manage to control his need to do it all on the ice, which has cost him on more than one occasion. Oh yes. Jacques Martin’s decision to bench Subban near the start of last season made him a better player, even though you (yes, YOU!) didn’t think so at the time.
Up front, Blair Betts is the new fourth-line flavour of the week. Works for me. The Canadiens aren’t going to win or lose too many hockey games by virtue of the performance of their fourth line. We all know who has to carry the mail up front. Repeat after me: Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole. A top-six showing from Andrei Kostitsyn would definitely help. Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller could be ready for a break-out seasons. And the always-appreciated Mathieu Darche will make it his business to put that big body of his in front of the opposing goaltender.
However, for the Montreal Canadiens it starts and ends with goalie Carey Price. This is a conversation we had this time last year, and we continue to have it. However, as we saw last season, an all-star like performance by Price alone isn’t going to lead this team to the promised land. As we saw far too often last season, and again against the Leafs on opening night, you’re not going to win too many games if you can’t put the puck in the net. And I’m not convinced that the Canadiens have the horses necessary to become a top-four team in the East. Which means they will once again be left to battle it out for a playoff spot over the final weeks of the regular season.
The 2011-12 edition of the Canadiens will finish in 7th place in what will once again be a very tight Eastern conference race this season.
“I wanted a multi-year deal. I want to stay in Montreal for as long as I can. That’s where I want to win a Stanley Cup.”
Josh Gorges might one day get that multi-year deal. Gorges might get his wish and stay in Montreal for as long as he can. In fact, he might very well one day help bring a Stanley Cup to this city.
But for now, the 26-year-old defenceman from Kelowna, BC, will have to be satisfied with the one-year deal he signed with the Canadiens last Friday; a contract that avoided an arbitration hearing that was scheduled for this Thursday.
Gorges was wearing his heart on his sleeve when he spoke of his new deal, today. But that’s completely keeping with his character.
In the opening days of training camp heading into the 2007-2008 NHL season, I sat down with Josh Gorges. At that time, he talked about how the Canadiens had given him a new lease on his hockey life, after acquiring him from the San Jose Sharks late in the 2006-2007 season, in a deal that sent Craig Rivet to San Jose. Gorges appeared in only seven games with the Habs in ’06-’07, but even then, you got the sense that the Canadiens had acquired a very special young man when Bob Gainey stole Gorges and a draft pick (used to select Max Pacioretty) out from under the nose of Sharks’ GM Doug Wilson.
Gorges appeared in 62 games the following season, and he quickly became a fan favourite as a result of his selfless, hard-working, nose-to-the grindstone work ethic. Three solid seasons later, despite a 2010-2011 campaign that ended prematurely because of knee surgery, Gorges appeared to be headed to long-term job security with the team the city he loves to play in, and the team he loves to play for.
Then, this. A one-year contract.
Hard for Canadiens’ fans not to be disappointed over this turn of events. Harder, still, for Canadiens’ fans to swallow the words of General Manager Pierre Gauthier when he said, after the Gorges’ deal was done: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with Josh Gorges for the 2011-12 season. He is a very reliable defenseman for our club. Josh is recovering extremely well from his knee injury that kept him out of the line-up for half of the regular season and the playoffs, and we look forward to seeing him at training camp.”
Well, if he’s recovering so well, and he’s so reliable, and he’s one of the leaders of this club, both on and off the ice (as Gauthier has often said), why only one year?
Why? I’ll tell you why.
Because hockey is a business. Fans fall in love with players. General Managers do not. It’s about balancing the books in this mad-cap, salary-cap world. It’s about looking at the players who are in the pipeline and assessing a team’s needs for the present and the future, while keeping a close eye on the bottom line.
It works both ways. Roman Hamrlik knows hockey is a business. That’s why he elected to sign a two-year deal with the Washington Capitals at a time when the Canadiens were only willing to offer a one-year term. Hamrlik wanted to stay in Montreal. But he didn’t stay here THAT badly.
Which brings us back to Josh Gorges. Habs’ fans looking at this situation through rose-coloured glasses are confident that Gorges will have a fine season with the Canadiens and (here’s where the rose-coloured glasses come in) will be rewarded for his efforts with a long-term deal which will keep him in Montreal.
News flash. Don’t hold your breath. The genie’s out of the bottle, folks, as a result of Gauthier’s decision to limit Gorges’ offer to one-year.
Count me among Josh Gorges’ admirers. But when it comes time for Josh Gorges’ agent to sit down with Gauthier at the end of this season, all bets will be off. Pierre Gauthier will do what he feels is best for his hockey team. And Josh Gorges will do what he feels is best — for Josh Gorges.