Before you shoot me down, let me just put one thing in perspective…

Gainey took over the team as general manager in 2003, after a somewhat disappointing season where they finished tenth in the Eastern Conference, with a regular season record of 30-35-8-9 for 77 points. The following four seasons, the Canadiens reached the playoffs three times, but failed to get very far, winning only one game in the second round, against Philadelphia last year.

After a very surprising 07-08 season, the Canadiens started their 100th campaign as legitimate contenders in the East, after the addition of Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang to a line-up that clinched the Conference title the year before. Injuries, Deceptions and Scandals later, the Canadiens are still in the race for a playoffs spot, but aren’t considered contenders anymore.

No matter if you’re disappointed or not that Gainey stayed put at the deadline, one fact remains; this is year five of his five years plan. Important decisions have to be made this summer, as most of our leaders are going to be free agents (both restricted and un-restricted).

So I ask the question; Is Gainey still the man, or is it time for a new vision ?

My Take…

I’ve always been a fan of Bob Gainey, the player and the man. But never been a fan of Bob Gainey, the general manager. Personally, I think he’s made some questionable decisions over the past few years, while getting a lot of credit that should’ve been given to Trevor Timmins, Montreal’s head scout.

I still think trading Ribeiro and Theodore were good decisions. Getting Niinimaa and Aebischer in return were not. Still think not signing Souray back was a good call…not trading him at the deadline, with so many teams overpaying for defensemen that year was not. Convincing Chicago to take Samsonov contract was awesome…signing him in the first place, wasn’t considering we were lacking a big center (and still are) at that time, not a speedy forward. Signing Hamrlik at $5.5m was kinda pricey, but okay. Signing him to that amount for four years was absurd. Signing Plekanec and Higgins to cheap short-term contract was impeccable. Signing Komisarek to a 2-year deal, bringing him to full free agency status was awful ! Trading for Tanguay was superb. Not replacing an injured Lang at the deadline wasn’t.

That’s the thing for me with Bob Gainey. Each good decision seems to be followed by a bad one.

The Deadline…
It takes no math wiz to realize that Gainey’s focus was to bring the cup (or at least, try) in Montreal this season. Look at the way he setup his contracts. The reason why he could afford to bring in players such as Tanguay, Lang, Schneider was because some of our core players were being paid like third line talent. A luxury he probably won’t have next year. Meaning the Canadiens won’t have so much depth…especially with the cap rumored to go down next year.

Gainey didn’t move because he has faith in the players he has right now. Because getting Tanguay and Latendresse back is just as good as making a deadline deal. If that was the case, if our line-up was that good…then why was he trying to sign Sundin this summer ? Why did he trade for Lang. Because at the beginning of the season, Bob Gainey felt the need to add some weight down the middle, to be a legitimate contender in the East. Well that need is still there now that Lang went down. Just like our need for a right-handed physical defenseman. And what’s Gainey doing…waiting for injured players to come back.

Look at what Calgary gave for Olli Jokinen. What’s the comparative for the Habs…Chris Higgins, along with Ryan O’Byrne and a first round pick maybe ? What about Boston giving Petteri Nokelainen for Steve Montador ? What is it…Chipchura, Maxwell ?

Now I’m not saying Jokinen will win you a cup, chances are he’ll never win a Conn Smythe trophy. But considering how Carbonneau uses his lines, Jokinen could’ve been quite useful to the Canadiens, or at the very least, more than Higgins. And keep in mind that Jokinen isn’t the typical playoff rental.

But Gainey had faith in our current line-up ? Alright, then show it. Give them a reason to believe that we are going for it. Or else, keep building. The Canadiens are still lacking a legitimate franchise player because, year after year, they insist on barely making the playoffs. They insist on being in the middle of the pack; afraid to trade little bit of future for the present, can’t afford to trade the present for the future. Pick your path, and go…go…go !

This Summer…
Looking at the list of upcoming free agents, there’s really not much to get excited about, especially down the middle, which is where we’ll be needing some help. Arguably, bringing back Koivu and Kovalev could be our best option at this point.

The Sedin twins are probably gonna re-sign in Vancouver. Cammalleri, as good as he is, is undersize and will probably get more money than what the Habs would be willing to give him, and Mats Sundin ain’t coming back. Hossa would definitely be an improvement over Kovalev, but wouldn’t help us getting bigger down the middle. Trading could be our best option here…still dreaming about Lecavalier ? Maybe it’s time to wake up…considering the price we would have to pay, maybe acquiring a player at the deadline would’ve been better short, med and long term.

What about you guys ? Is Bob Gainey still your man ?
With so many decisions to make this summer, is he still the one you trust ?

And let’s try to keep it civilized…we might have a different opinion on the subject, but at the end of the day, we’re all Habs fans (well, hockey fans if you’re from somewhere else).


  1. LeafsNation91 says:

    Yemelin, Valentenko, Korneyev best defenceman playing in Russia? Buddy, you say the Leafs overvalue players, well, you just overvalued 3 AVERAGE prospecrs and/or players. Korneyev is not even ranked in Montreal's top 20 prospects. If I happen to recall, their is a Leafs defenceman prospect named Dmitri Vorobiev playing in the KHL who is RANKED higher as a better prospect than Yemelin, Valentenko, and Korneyev. Before you speak your Habs bias language, do some real homework.

  2. Plekanec says:

     I didn't include Valentenko in that group and I meant that Emelin and Korneev were the best Defensive or stay at home defenseman, I know damn well that Emelins 6 pts aren't a leagues best, Vorobiev is nowhere near Emelin and Korneev defensively but offensively it's another thing.

  3. DandoEagle says:

    Are you *****ing serious when you say he didn't get much of a return for Garon or Theodore?

    Theo stunk plain and simple – and he got Abby who didn't make nearly the ridiculous amount of money that Theo made – and if I'm wrong I believe Garon fetched Radek Bonk and the "savior" of the franchise that was Cristobal Huet.

    Ribeiro was a bum – is a bum and will always be a bum and would never have done a damned thing in a Habs jersey except be an off ice distraction.

    Ryder sucked last year – and even if head tried to move him at the deadline (which he might have who knows?) we would have gotten squat for him and he would ahve cleared waivers.

    Perezhogin bolted for the KHL. He was going no matter what team he played for.

    Souray – if he had dealt him while in the thick of a playoff run his head would have been on a platter – see Jacques Martin and Jay-Bo.

    Hainsey – was a techincality that screwed him

    Beauchemin – the bad move – I don't disagree.

  4. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Do you think Moore is worth it though? He was let go by one of the teams with the most cap space for asking for that kind of money. Plekanec has only once been a 69 point player, and just like what everyone says about every other player in the league, you need to put up a few of those types of seasons to prove your worth, and right now he has gone back to being a 45 point guy.

    I think if a team pays that kind of money for him they are overpaying. There are plenty of guys out there with his skills and stats who will ask for less and I would be surprised if he makes more than 2.5 mil.

  5. kilter says:

    why would you trade Halak he's our number one tender,trade Price he clearly sucks and don,t say hes still young Halaks only 23 and hes a hell of alot better than Price,Pacioretty is  another LeClaire in the making and PK Subban is going to be a great rushing d-man in the future,those guys can,t be moved way to valuable,but get rid of Price now while the hole he's dug himself is not so deep that noone will touch him and trust me the Price phenom days are over everyone knows it in the nhl,they figuered him out,i said it at the begining of the season that do not be surprised if halak is our number one by the end of the season and everyone thought i was crazy….well look at it now,anyway thats my 2cents and some may say its not worth that but whatever…its still my opinion.

  6. HabsMakeYouWhine says:

    2 millions or 2.5 for one year is fair ,but if we lock him up for lets say 3 years i think 10 millions on 3 years would be fair,well plek is the only center with good potentiel for years to come we have…koivu is not the player he was,let me remind you something,at his somophore season he was leading the nhl with the assist before his big injury,after,the gm sold out the teams for used jackstrap and under-rated player…see thibault etc the end we trade roy for hackett and audette,traded desjardins and leclair for recchi who was traded for zubrus,we also traded our 1st round draft pick that was in the 10 i think for linden to the islanders,then finnaly we traded zubrus and linden for bulis and zednik,then it was the end of the miserable life,and with all this time that have passed koivu did near the one point per game,with all his injury,cancer,the eye incident against carolina,the injury in his somophore season,etc etc,yes theres a lot of ppl angry in mtl , koivu never won someting,koivu is done,koivu is a bad captain,in 10 years 7 coachs,1 captain,and this goes on…id like to remind them that since gainey is on board,he hire only 2 coachs julien and carbonneau,therrien,vignault and etc was the choice of savard and houle.its not koivu who traded roy,turgeon,etc…i know theres must be some pathetic french in mtl who never accept the fact all the french were traded to make room for koivu who knows…

  7. HabsMakeYouWhine says:

    this post was for plekanec

  8. HabsMakeYouWhine says:

    oh and plekanec name a player with the injury history of koivu,who have play with crap player the most time of his carrer,still play with his teams and who have 627 points in 776 games?

  9. Benstheman says:

    I never heard that!!

    I can assume tough he doesnt want to resign here, after what happened. But he never said anything about it. It is never a good thing to close doors for an aging ufa like him and he knows this.

    And he knows his better option is still Montreal after this year.

  10. leafy says:

    The Habs have fired Carbonneau. Gainey will take over now.

  11. kilter says:

    what a joke…Gainey fires the coach today and it should have been Gainey to get fired he hasn,t got the guts to make a move for players but he has no problem fireing someone for his incompetence.

  12. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Agreed for some, but alot no. Tanguay isn't past his prime. He is 29 years old, just entering his prime, the only problem was his injury this season. He can play well up to a point per game pace and even more if he tries hard enough.

    Kostopolous is only 30. Again, not aging, I'll give you 4th liner, sometimes a 3rd liner, but it's not like he's playing into the Chris Chelios/Claude Lemieux age bracket year he's also just in his prime.

    Losing Hainsey wasn't a big loss, 4 years after being drafted and he wasn't putting up stellar stats in Hamilton and couldn't make the big club regularly. Then once he got out of the organization he became a 30 – 40 point dman. It just wasn't going to happen for him there.

    Ribeiro was a replaceable player in Montreal and Perezhogin had a little incident in the AHL with smacking a player in the head with his stick, was suspended for a whole season from the AHL and charged by police in Hamilton. After returning from his suspension he played some pretty unimpressive hockey in 2 NHL seasons. Overall I don't think he was going to turn out in the NHL as great as in russia so I think he belongs there.

    As for the 2004 draft, Chipchura bounces back and forth from the AHL to NHL, Yemelin and Wyman are still considered decent prospects that are still in their organization even though they aren't with the habs or bulldogs, Greg Stewart has played in 12 games with the team this season. You guys hate grabo and the rest aren't worth mentioning. And they have a few of their own big centers that they drafted, Mathieu Aubin, Chipchura, Ryan White. They just haven't been able to make the team yet. I wouldn't completely blame that on Gainey though.

  13. habsoverserver says:

    i am of course serious to point out that gainey was the one who signed theodore to the terrible contract.

    bonk and huet are both gone and between them netted montreal a second round pick that was traded to get lang. 

    ribeiro is the highest scoring forward drafted by montreal since koivu.  he is also the youngest player ever to lead monteal in scoring and has led the stars in scoring twice.  if he is a bum, then you are saying that all of montreal is terrible.

    it is superficial to suggest that ryder "sucked last year."   he scored more even strength goals per minute of ice time than in prior years.  not his fault that they changed powerplay quarterbacks so that he could not get any rebounds.  it "sucked" that montreal could not figure out how to use a scorer like him. 

    it doesn't matter why perezhogin left.  what matters is that montreal lost a first round pick. 

    souray – rivet was dealt and the habs missed the playoffs.  they might as well have thrown the rope in with the bucket. 

    hainsey – he was not screwed. gainey screwed the team by (as usual) losing a first round draft pick for nothing.  hainsey is very happy and a solid nhler. 

    bottom line, gainey has added as much value as he has lost.  he is average, not impressive.

  14. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    Gainey didn't sign him to the contract. Andre Savard did a year before Gainey became GM of the team. Jose was signed in Sept. 2002, Gainey came in May of 2003.

    Lang was leading the habs in goal scoring until he was injured and it's no coincidence that their losing skid became even worse after he went down.

    In 3 seasons in Montreal, Ribeiro had one good year and 2 bad years and had a lot of maturing to do off of the ice. A city like Montreal is no place for a guy to do any maturing, just ask Carey Price. Ribeiro has quickly become one of my favourite players to watch since going to Dallas, but when I think of his time in Montreal I will always remember in the 03-04 playoff series against the Bruins where he took a dive, flopped like a fish on the ice, and went off to the bench and was perfectly fine shortly after.

    Ryder I agree, he was misused last season.

    It doesn't matter what team or what GM tried to keep Perezhogin he wasn't willing to play in the NHL. I think he realized that he wasn't made for the NHL in his few seasons in North America (his play sort of declined after the stick swinging incident), and he was off to Russia no matter what anyone said, so you can't blame that on Gainey.

    I agree, with the year Souray was having with his 64 points he could have stacked the team with some top prospects, or maybe a real 1st line center.

    Hainsey really wasn't proving his worth at the AHL or NHL level until he hit Columbus. It's something about the big media circus cities that just doesn't allow them to play to their potential, it's like they get stage fright. But after 4 mediocre seasons between Montreal and Hamilton he finally found his groove to become a 30 – 40 point guy. Not sure I'd call that coincidence because if he can put up those numbers in Atlanta he can do it anywhere, he just couldn't handle that city.

    I do think that Gainey is just average, but not for the reasons you have given, it's his lack of ability to bring in a real 1st line center, and the fact that he probably has too much confidence in his teams and doesn't realize when improvements need to be made (not trading Souray was one of those mistakes)

  15. Komic-J says:

    Theodore: Traded to the Avalanche in return of David Aebischer. I don't care if it's a salary dump or not, when you trade someone who has been the face of your franchise for years, you've got to get something better than a backup goaltender. Plus, at that time Halak was already ready for a backup job. With Huet as our starter, we absolutely didn't need another goaltender…especially one who's leaving the next year.

    Ribeiro: Traded to Dallas along with a 6th round pick, in return of Janne Niinimaa and a 5th round pick. No way Ribeiro could've been that succesful with Montreal…however, he was our leading scorer in 2003-2004, the year before the lockout. You just can't trade your 2nd line center in return of a 7th defenseman, two years after he had been your leading scorer. AWFUL TRADE !

    Garon: Traded to Los Angeles, along with a 3rd round pick, in return of Radek Bonk and Cristobal Huet. First, Los Angeles got Bonk from Ottawa in return of a 3rd round pick, so basically, Gainey traded Garon for Huet…and had absolutely no idea who he was. During the press conference, Gainey mentioned Huet being a throw in because we didn't have anyone to replace Garon as our backup. The key player there was Bonk, and Gainey used that trade to move Garon who was looking for a starting job. Now I was a big fan of Garon at that time, mainly because he was a bigger goaltender than Theo. There was a lot of debate at that time around who should the Canadiens keep, Garon or Theo. I always thought Garon was solid enough to be our starter, and Theo could've gotten us a good return at that time. That's what I wanted Gainey to do…and he didn't. Of course, a lot of fans were pleased…but I still think he chose the wrong option.

    Souray: First, Sheldon Souray ain't no Jay Bouwmeester. Also, the market at that time was pretty different. We got a prospect and a 1st round pick in return of Rivet. Imagine what we could've gotten for Souray. Somebody clearly screwed up on that one; either Souray lied to Gainey about his desire to sign back with Montreal (remember, Montreal offered Souray $5.5m just like Hamrlik got that summer) or Gainey didn't bother to talk with him. Something tells me Gainey, who NEVER negociate contract during the season, is the one who screwed up there. We've been hearing about Souray's desire to go play in the West for years. Gainey should've traded him, playoffs or not. When you get that kind of return for a UFA (it was the case that year for defenseman) you've got to pull the trigger, unless you're shooting for the cup…and, at that time, the Habs weren't.

    I'll give you Ryder, Perezhogin and Hainsey though…

  16. Habfan17 says:

    I think this is well written and you make some valid points. I agree that along with some astute and really shrewd moves, there have been some questionable moves. Having said that, I believe that you missed a couple of points that need to be mentioned. It took Detroit a few years to right their ship and now it has been the model of consistency. There are factors in Mtl that other teams don't face and that makes Gainey's job (or anyone else that would be GM), difficult. The taxes, the immense pressure, and the language. I don't know if the law has changed, but in order to enroll your children in English school, at least one parent had to attend Engish school in Quebec. Maybe the players are exempt, but if not, that would make some free agents sign elsewhere. As much as pride and desire should off set the pressure, the fans and media are relentless in their criticizing the team and players when they feel they aren't playing to their potential.

    The time has passed when a player would jump at the chance to play for a team steeped in history. Now it's more a business and fit. Gainey may have made some moves that we as fans felt made no sense, but given that most deadline trades have failed miserably and teams get stuck with over paid players they can't trade, I would say that he has been responsible while building a strong team. Yes Timmens and the rest of the staff deserve a lot of the credit, but it does take a strong leader to check his ego and allow his staff to do what they do best. It is never about himself with Gainey, it is always about the team.

    As far as having so many players contracts coming due..well, with the economic situation and the fact that that the cap will probably be going down, Gainey is in a strong position as opposed to teams like Philly and Detroit that will have to let players go as they have no room to sign them. The economic situation also works in Gainey's favour. Players may be willing to sign for less than it would have cost last season or at the deadline.

    The cupboard was bare when Gainey took over and now it is well stocked and as much as Timmens and others have been crucial to this success, so has Gainey because he didn't succumb to the pressure to trade it all away for the hope of a player coming in and taking them to the cup. It never worked for Toronto now did it!

    Another way to look at it is you can't be perfect and since we don't know what went on behind the scenes, some of those questionable trades or lack of signings may have been unavoidable. We can speculate all we want, but without all the facts, that is all it is! I think Gainey should get at least 3 more years to finish the job. It isn't unusual for a team to take a step back, before taking the giant step forward! These guys are still pretty young and as long as they don't take the 10 year learning plan that Ottawa took, I say sign Gainey to an extension! He has done a terrific job and not everything we do turns to gold, so why should we expect it from Him. He has more pluses than minuses!

  17. Habfan17 says:

    Schneider has helped a lot and Metropolit didn't cost us anything and could be placed on waivers, so the year on his contract is moot. Gainey may have done these things to facilitate a trade that fell through, and we will never know. I didn't like the style that Carbo had the Habs playing, they used to play a speed game with aggressive forechecking and they were winning that way, then he switched to a sit back system and they were always getting caught because they weren't skating. It also put more pressure on the defence and guys like Komisarek were suffering for it. The transition game was gone.

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