All Habs Headlines: Friday January 4, 2013
On this day in hockey history… just one year ago, Lars Eller scored four goals and added an assist as the Montreal Canadiens beat the Winnipeg Jets 7 to 3. This one game accounted for 25 per cent of his season goal total and just under 18% of his 2011-12 point total.
ALL HABS HEADLINES
► Charles Hudon to Return to Action: After a disappointing back injury forced him to withdraw from the World Junior Championships, Canadiens prospect Charles Hudon will return to the ice for Chicoutimi tonight. Hours before his would-have-been teammates compete for a bronze medal in Ufa, Russia, Hudon and the Sagueneens take on Sherbrooke for the first time this season.
Hudon continues to receive treatments for his back, but doctors have given him a green light to play. His coach Marc-Etienne Hubert indicated he’ll give Hudon time to readapt himself to the game, playing him on a regular line and the powerplay, but not using him in shorthanded situations right off the bat. Despite battling injury this season, Hudon, who captains the Sagueneens, is having a productive year with 18 goals and 36 points through 27 games.
Read more: Hudon de retour (French)
► Bulldogs Add DeSantis, Reassign Nash: While the NHL labour conflict prevents any formal trades from occurring, Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs General Manager Marc Bergevin found a way around that to try to breathe a bit of life into his AHL squad. Yesterday, it was announced the Bulldogs had added 28-year old Jason DeSantis, a Florida Panthers-owned rearguard, on re-assignment from the San Antonio Rampage. In return, the Canadiens re-assigned defenseman Brendon Nash from Hamilton to San Antonio.
This isn’t a trade per se, and for the time being, the Canadiens retain Nash’s rights. It wouldn’t be surprising, however, if this was the end of Nash’s tenure in the Montreal organization, and that a trade be completed once a new CBA is signed. A similar transaction took place in 2010 when Greg Stewart was re-assigned from Hamilton to the Chicago Wolves, with Michael Vernace taking the opposite path. Stewart would be let go the following off-season, so though Nash still has some potential in him, it appears his inability to regain his form after missing all of last year with a difficult injury – combined with the upcoming crowded group of prospect defensemen – has left him without a spot in the Montreal depth chart.
DeSantis is coming off a big season with the St. John’s Ice Caps in which he set career highs for goals (11) and points (43). He has been inconsistent, however, struggling the year prior on an ECHL assignment, and as such seems like a career AHL’er at this stage in his development. Still, he brings a veteran presence to a very young Bulldog blueline.
Read more: Defenceman DeSantis Reassigned to Bulldogs
► A Day With No Negotiation: We’re another day closer to the NHL’s deadline by which a season could still “realistically” be played, and talks between the league and Player’s Association seem no further advanced. Both sides met individually with mediators yesterday, but did not get together for any actual bargaining. The only positive development was an agreement on the league’s part to return to the definition of hockey-related revenue previously agreed upon after the league tried to make a change in the wording earlier in the week. The league also agreed on a minor change (but a positive one for the Canadiens), increasing the number of permitted compliance buyouts per team from one to two, and became more flexible on yearly variation in salary on player contracts, increasing the allowance to 30% annually.
Where does that leave us? We’re no closer to an agreement on hot button issues like the 2013-14 salary cap, player pension plans, or maximum contract durations. It seems illogical that these matters of comparatively small dollars when looking at the revenue that is lost due to cancelled games could ice a full season in a professional sports league, but don’t underestimate the importance of the ego and pride of principal negotiators Gary Bettman and Donald and Steve Fehr. With one week to go to get a deal done, there is still time for all to come to their senses, but at this stage, the process seems just as close to completely falling apart, with the players beginning a vote to re-authorize their executive committee to file a disclaimer of interest yesterday.
Read more: Talks Going from Embarrassing to Worse
► Gionta Cautious, Selanne Optimistic: After comments from Canadiens captain Brian Gionta about remaining cautious until a new CBA is signed and delivered, at least one high profile NHL’er is optimistic that a deal is close. In an interview with a Finnish sports station, veteran Teemu Selanne indicated quite specifically that he foresees an agreement between the NHL and NHLPA this coming Monday, January 7th, with training camps to open January 10th, and a season to begin on January 18th or 19th, the deadline the league has set in order to fit in their minimum 48-game calendar.
Selanne is a well-liked player league-round (perhaps except in Colorado) and should a decision come to a vote, his opinion would likely carry significant weight among his peers. At age 42, he is also one of those with much to lose from a cancelled season, as it is far from guaranteed he’d be back on North American ice in 2013-14.
► MacMillan to Play with his Brother: Unheralded 20-year old Canadiens prospect Mark MacMillan is having a strong sophomore season at the University of North Dakota, frequently playing on the club’s top line with fellow future Hab Danny Kristo and NCAA star Corban Knight.
Though he has registered 7 goals and 15 points in 18 games as a part of that combination, he likely isn’t protesting too much about being moved down the line-up for tonight’s matchup against Holy Cross. That’s because MacMillan will get to center his older brother Mitch, an undrafted transfer from St. Cloud State who will be making his debut for the Fighting Sioux after sitting out the NCAA-obliged full year of hockey. At age 23, Mitch isn’t likely a legit NHL prospect, having recorded just 5 assists in 14 games for St. Cloud – a team whose logo strongly resembles that of the Canadiens – but getting to play with his sibling will be a nice moment for the family.
Read more: UND Hockey – MacMillan Ready to Go
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