Au Revoir Sheldon

Well the eve of free agency is upon us which can prove to be exciting, sometimes shocking and even disappointing for some, especially us Hab fans.

I previously wrote an article regarding Bob Gainey as GM and his decisions and actions or there lack of. Some agreed and others disagreed. It is easy to play armchair GM, especially when we as fans do not know what happens behind closed doors.

Once again I will reiterate that I am a fan of Gainey’s, both when he was a player and now as a GM. Like every GM he has made both good and bad decisions. I was glad that he was able to unload both Theodore and Samsonov but ultimately he was the one responsible for signing them. Theodore was a tough break and Samsonov was an act of desperation.

It proves that Montreal is a difficult destination to attract free agents for various reasons. The Canadiens did offer both Elias and Shanahan big bucks but ultimately they chose not to come to Montreal. I hope Gainey sticks with youth or the trade route if he is unable to land a big name quality free agent without overpaying.

Now my disappointment lies with the fact that Sheldon Souray is on the verge of leaving the Canadiens and we will have nothing to show for him.

At the end of last season when the Canadiens were fighting for the final playoff spot, Huet was injured. To me Gainey had two choices. Trade for a proven goalie i.e. Joseph or Belfour (which would have probably cost a third round draft pick) or roll the dice without a number one goaltender and trade Souray for bodies and or picks. He chose neither, instead he perservered with Abby who is obviously not a number one goaltender and Halak who was unproven.

Without a proven goalie not many teams are going to advance very far into the playoffs and may even struggle making them. This has been proven time and time again. Yet many average or slightly above average teams with solid goaltending have enjoyed playoff success even winning the Stanley Cup. Yes Huet did come back at the end but it was too little too late and he was not in playoff form.

Craig Rivet fetched a first round pick so it is safe to say Souray would have at least done the same. In this new NHL special teams are huge and teams would have lined up for his services. Realistically the Habs would have needed Souray to make a push for and into the playoffs but they also needed a proven goaltender as well. To me Gainey sat on the fence. Now Souray will walk and we will have nothing to show for him.

Lets face it, anyone that thought Souray was going to resign with Montreal is dillusional. Rumors galore have said that he wants to be in California closer to his family. Not to menion, Gainey will not break the bank for him, which is a wise decision. But rest assured, some team will.

Yes, Souray is an offensive asset with a big shot and any team in the league would like to have him in their lineup. I believe he is also a character guy and a team player. But having said this I have seen him in many a highlight reals playing the goat. Defensively he is a liability.

Now if he could be signed for a realistic number, than for sure, but how much would you be willing to pay for Souray? Like many players eligible for unrestricted free agency he ironically enjoyed a career year. Souray also has a history of injury problems.

I think Montreal would have been better off retaining and resigning Craig Rivet. He also provides leadership, experience and grit. Had this been the case the Canadiens would only looking to replace one defenseman instead of two. This might be accomplished from within the organization with possibly OByrne from Hamilton. And this would cost nothing. And sorry to say but Gorges was just a throw in and will be lucky to earn a regular roster spot.

The player(s) and or pick(s) acquired in the Souray trade could have been used in a package to pursue a Marleau type player via a trade or for you Francophone fans, to select Angelo Esposito.

So yes I am disappointed that we will lose one of the most sought after unrestricted free agents available and have nothing to show for it. I just wish Gainey chose one side of the fence or the other and not sit on it.