“We’re going to function out of the box a little more than we have.” — Pierre Gauthier (October 26, 2011)
MONTREAL, QC. — Check the date — are you superstitious? Having a fear of Friday the 13th is called “friggatrishtkaidekaphobia.” Habs fans are waking up to the news that their team will no longer have a number 13 on their roster — for now, the Calgary Flames have two.
Mike Cammalleri and Olli Jokinen will settle their differences over who will wear the jersey — Pierre Gauthier followed an ‘out of the box’ path to deal his outspoken left-winger, one day after Cammalleri made it clear that he was no longer happy in Montreal. Whether Gauthier intended to upstage the drama of the October firing of an assistant coach 90 minutes prior to a game or not, this move had fans and media both scrambling to keep up with the soap opera as Cammalleri was told that he would not be needed for the third period of a tight game in Boston.
The full trade completed on Thursday evening is as follows : Montreal obtained forward Rene Bourque and prospect Patrick Holland, as well as a 2nd-round draft pick in 2013 from the Calgary Flames, in return for forward Michael Cammalleri, goaltender Karri Ramo and a 5th-round draft pick in 2012.
In Bourque the Habs are getting an inconsistent forward with problems on and off the ice. If that doesn’t sound positive so far, there’s more. Bourque is in the second year of a six-year contract extension worth $19.8 million — while freeing up some cap space, Gauthier continues to tie the hands of his successor with long-term deals.
When asked to comment on the trade Bourque said, “”It’s a big shock, I had no idea this was going on. But if there’s anywhere I want to play, it’s Montreal.” Well, that’s a good start. He followed it up with “I might be in trouble… I don’t speak French, even if I have the most French name on that team.”
Uh, oh. That line likely earned Bourque a call from the spinmeisters of the Canadiens communication department. They will be doing their best to head off another protest by the few dozen language militants who visited the Bell Centre last Saturday. It was suggested on Twitter that perhaps they will be joined this weekend by members of Montreal’s Jewish community.
Cammalleri was much more politically aware with his comments saying, “I’m just so excited. I can’t wait to get there. I never wanted to leave Calgary.” General manager Jay Feaster confirmed Cammalleri’s excitement describing the questions by his new acquisition when they spoke. Cammalleri asked, “What, are we four points out?” “We play Saturday, right, and it’s on Hockey Night in Canada?” “How are we doing tonight?”
Cammalleri was already distancing himself from Montreal, and perhaps, in his mind, he had abandoned his teammates before he chose to share his frustrations with the media on Wednesday.
For his part Gauthier insisted that “the comments Mr. Cammalleri made had nothing to with [the trade] at all.” Yeah, right. The Canadiens general manager is either being disingenuous or is incompetent. If there was no rush to trade Cammalleri based on his tirade, then Gauthier would have advised teams around the league that a potential 40-goal scorer was available.
He didn’t. ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun tweeted “One NHL GM when told of the trade, said he wished he knew Cammalleri was available. Would have made an offer.”
So, in Bourque, what did the Canadiens get? Former NHL head coach Marc Crawford said, “It’s questionable whether [Bourque] is a top-six forward. You’ve got a primary scorer in Cammalleri and you’re trading him for a secondary scorer in [Bourque.]”
TSN’s Bob McKenzie shared this analysis, saying “Rene Bourque is the ultimate in-and-outer. He looks great when he’s motivated but his give-a-care meter is wildly all over the place.” McKenzie has since done some arithmetic gymnastics in an attempt to rationalize the trade for disappointed Habs fans in a morning column.
Hockey Night in Canada’s Kelly Hrudey is not known for ripping players — his analysis is thoughtful and measured. But he was blunt in mid-November when assessing Bourque.
Montreal also picked up Patrick Holland who, with 17 goals and 40 assists is currently ninth in scoring in the Western Hockey League. That may sound good but Holland is a 20-year old playing junior hockey for the Tri-City Americans, the best team in the WHL. He was selected in the 7th round, 193rd overall in the 2010 NHL Entry draft and is thought by some scouts to be headed to be a career minor-leaguer while others peg him as a fringe-NHL’er.
To share his excitement, Holland jumped onto reddit hockey and conducted an impromptu question and answer session with his curious new fans. He was a fan of the Edmonton Oilers growing up with Ales Hemsky being his favourite player. He shared his favourite hockey moment, his equipment choices, and his high school Math mark (92-96%.)
Holland explained how he found out about the trade this way: “My roommate and I were watching the Montreal game on tv in our room before going down for dinner and saw that Cammalleri was traded. Went down for dinner and heard he was traded to Calgary. Made a joke to my team that I was involved in it that nobody believed. At this exact point in time, my phone started to buzz and Flames Office came up on my caller ID. Then [the Canadiens Twitter account] mentioned me in a tweet and my I [sic] started to get overwhelmed with e-mails of followers on my phone.”
The most valuable part of the trade coming back from Calgary could be the 2013 second round draft choice if Gauthier can resist the urge to trade it away. If the Flames can convince goaltender Karri Ramo to leave Avangard Omsk in the KHL, he becomes much more than a throw-in. Feaster called Ramo, “the best goaltender playing in Europe.”
The trade is another in a growing list of panic moves by a general manager who is desperate to save his own job. In the process, he is ensuring that headaches will remain long after he has departed the organization. And his methods are dragging this once great franchise into the realm of punch-line by the rest of the league.
One has to feel for the players who have been hung out to dry all season by a former head coach who blamed them publicly for his inadequacies, and by a general manager who has created a circus-like atmosphere. Their classless and corrosive actions are eating away at the fabric of the bleu, blanc et rouge, tarnishing the brand in the process and have ensured that mediocrity will be the descriptor for the Canadiens for quite some time to come.
When asked about the drama of the third period in a game that saw Cammalleri disappear from the lineup, Carey Price said, “I wasn’t concerned with what was going on with Michael at that time. I was too busy trying to stop the puck.”
Oh, yes, there was a game last night. The Bruins beat the Canadiens 2-1. Happy Friday the 13th Habs fans.
About the Author (Author Profile)Rick is the Editor-in-Chief, lead contributor, and owner of the All Habs network of websites. His mission is to build a community of Canadiens fans who are informed, engaged and connected. He is the vision behind all four sites within the network - All Habs, Habs Tweetup, We Are Canadiens, and The Montreal Forum - and is responsible for the design and layout of each. In concert with the strong belief that "Habs fans are everywhere!", Rick is pleased that people use All Habs as a conduit to find and connect with other Habs fans worldwide. He is also proud that Habs Tweetups have allowed fans to meet in person and develop long lasting friendships.
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