In Bob, We MUST Trust
The trade deadline is quickly approaching, and many Habs fans are wondering, what will Bob Gainey do? The question we should be asking is, what should Bob Gainey be doing.
The short answer: Be a limited buyer…Many experts predicted that this team would finish anywhere from 10th to 15th at the end of the season. Obviously, the Habs are on the right track to proving them wrong. Not many people were getting their hopes up for this season, including myself, considering I had predicted that the Habs would finish 8th in the Conference.
10 games into the season, people weren’t at all sold on the Montreal Canadiens strong start. It was dismissed. People said it was an early season hot streak and that we would very soon come crashing back down to earth.
20 games in people still refused to believe the team was going to hang on for much longer. They were simply overachieving.
30 games in some started to take notice, and some started to believe. 30 games is awfully long for a simple hot streak, and the argument that the Habs were pretenders rather than contenders was losing its wheels.
40 games in, many Habs fans started to become increasingly optimistic. So called ‘experts’ from networks like TSN finally started to give the Habs credit for some of their achievements half way through the season.
And now, almost 50 games into the season, here we are. The bandwagon is steadily filling up, but people are aware that in a 5 game period we could still come crashing back down to earth. People are afraid to start believing in the team after what happened last season. People are afraid to call Montreal legitimate. We do not want to have our hearts broken again as we did last season.
Reasons against being sellers:
1) Even with all of these positives, us Habs fans need to stay realistic! We can not truly expect for Bob Gainey to trade away an asset like Saku Koivu at the deadline. Whether he is producing or not, he is still 3rd on the team in points, and more importantly, he is our captain. For some reason some people can not seem to realize the impact trading away the team’s captain would have. Imagine the Sens without Alfie, or the Flames without Iginla! While Koivu may not produce as much as they do point wise, he is still a valuable asset who is vital to the success of the team. Koivu is known for being stronger towards the end of the season, and if he were to get going in the playoffs we all know this team could make a serious push.
2) Yes, people were very likely expecting the Habs to be sellers at this point in the season. Yet simply because expectations were low then, it does not mean our expectations have to stay low. The youngsters on the team are proving that they are up to the task, and trading away a veteran presence would crush their moral and make them feel as if what they have accomplished has been all for nothing.
Reasons for being limited buyers, and reasons against being high buyers:
Try to name a major weakness for the Habs.
Goal scoring has not been a problem for the Canadiens. they have scored more goals 5 on 5 than they have allowed. Overall, they ranked 4th in goals for per game.
Defensively and in the goaltending department they have been above average, sitting at 11th in goals against per game.
Penalty killing has been below average but isn’t exactly an Achilles heel at 21st in the league.
The power play is ranked number 2 in the league.
In overtime the Habs are 6-8, that means 20 points out of a possible 28.
They are 7-2-1 in their last ten games. They have at least a point in 13 of their last 16 games.
This team is not in need of any major names. While acquiring somebody like Marleau or Hossa would be fantastic, it is not worth giving up any of the youth for them. The Habs should simply look to swap lesser role players like Dandenault, Gorges, and the fan favourite Ryder. But at the same time we can not expect to get big name players for these guys.
There is one obvious weakness that could haunt the team if they do not address it, and that is the face off situation. I’d be dreaming if I asked for Draper, but you get the general idea of what I’m saying. We need to improve on face offs and not regret having a face off in our zone with 10 seconds left. We should be able to have confidence in a proven face off specialist.
The bottom line is, the Habs do not need a big name player, wait till the summer of 2009 to do that. For now, keep giving the youth movement more ice time, and help them develop with the veteran presence you already have. Habs fans, you have to trust Bog Gainey and know that even though he might not make a huge deal, he is doing the right thing. You do not win a cup in Dallas by sticking your finger in your butt. This man knows what he is doing. Just give it time, this is a great time to be a Habs fan!