Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Rumours are just rumours until they are truths.
That’s a simple fact in the sports world, and the rumour we have been hearing about with increasingly more frequency lately is that the Montreal Canadiens are shopping Alex Galchenyuk. Rumours often begin as speculation, fun-filled conversations between fans to keep themselves entertained. Would you trade Alex Galchenyuk for Matt Duchene? For Gabriel Landeskog?
Often these are simply idle musings, questions thrown out there for those by the water cooler to debate endlessly and pass the time in the office. Sometimes, however, rumours begin to have legs. You don’t have to look much further than at the beginning of last season, when trading superstar defenseman PK Subban was fun to talk about, but obviously too crazy to actually consider. Then Carey Price was lost for the season, and the Canadiens’ great start started to mean less and less. Whispers of friction in the locker room began to spread, two factions facing off. In one corner, the Habs’ new Captain Max Pacioretty; in the other, the beloved fan-favourite, PK Subban. By the end of the season, NHL insiders had all but confirmed that the Habs were taking calls on Subban.
I was doing business on a boat on June 24th of 2016, and I was glued to the on-board radio. Marc Bergevin was late to a press conference, and the Twitterverse was panicking! Had Subban been traded? Why was the general manager so late? My business associate was sure PK was gone.
It wasn’t meant to be...that day. Bergevin eventually made his way to the podium, denied all PK speculation, and that was that. 5 days later, however, I was listening to Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690 when news broke that PK Subban had been traded to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Mitch Melnick’s reaction to the news, broken to him by Mitch Gallo live on-air, will live on forever as an audio clip that perfectly summed up most of the city’s hockey fans’ thoughts: “Holy Shit”.
Fast forward to less than a year later, and after another hot start, the Habs have once again cooled off, losing 6 out of their last 7 heading into the off week (Don’t call it a Bye Week, Michael Farber will be angry – rightfully so). This year, however, there’s no PK Subban to blame things on. The leadership group is supposed to have been shored up, and this group, as we have heard countless times over the season, is “as tight as ever”.
Now the rumours are focused on Galchenyuk. The whispers are back, this time with a new target. Is Galchenyuk partying too much? Why is his play so poor in his own end? Why is he so bad at faceoffs? Does he care about this team? Galchenyuk is being shopped for Duchene!
I hear the rumours, but they are crazy to me. Crazy! This is a young centerman learning to play against the very best the NHL has to offer. It’s going to take some time before he develops into the all-star, well rounded centerman the Canadiens hoped he’d be when they drafted him 3rd overall back in 2012.
I understand that in this market, patience isn’t something this fan base has in spades. But I implore the Canadiens’ brass to patient in this case. No more lateral moves. You want Duchene this year? Offer Sergachev, a draft pick. Galchenyuk for Duchene will not make the Canadiens better in the long run, nor will it greatly improve this team now. It just doesn’t make sense. Alex Galchenyuk should be a Montreal Canadien for a very long time.
1. Marc Bergevin failed Michel Therrien. There, I said it. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the Therrien firing and Claude Julien being the new Head Coach of the Montreal Canadiens. I think ultimately, change was needed and this will give a boost to the Habs, at least in the short term. The problem lies in the lack of “won” trades by the GM in the five years Therrien stood behind the bench. In that time, Bergevin has made 33 trades. Of those 33 trades, I can only point to a handful that has helped the team: the Petry acquisition, the Shaw trade, Weber for PK and the smaller Flynn and Mitchell deals.
The 28 other deals were either lateral moves (Ryder-for-Cole, Matteau-DSP), small moves (Weaver, Nesterov) or trades that simply didn’t work out (Vanek, Gonchar, Parenteau, Kassian). Bergevin simply needs to do better.
2. My first thought regarding Claude Julien is that he’s not that much different than Michel Therrien. He’s defensive-minded and doesn’t have a stellar reputation with younger players. He is also extremely conservative. People point to his passion behind the bench, but if you recall, Therrien was also extremely temperamental at the beginning of his run. The Habs told him to tone it down. Will they do the same with Julien?
3. Perhaps the biggest plus for Habs’ fans is that Claude Julien is known to stick to his lines, which Therrien seemed to be incapable of doing. Loved seeing the fans go crazy at Mike’s line juggles throughout the years, though. I’ll miss that.
4. I’ll miss the Therrien-isms. He provided great soundbites for us at TSN 690. Sigh. (That was a soundbite too!)
5. Lost the first one versus Winnipeg. How long until #FireJulien begins trending in Montreal?
6. One last thing about the coaching change. There is all kinds of talk about how the Canadiens players gave up on their Coach, specifically Carey Price. Darren Dreger spoke of a player saying Carey Price lacked the usual fire in his eyes. Let’s get this out of the way: If Carey Price stopped playing for his coach, throw out all the garbage of him being the team’s true leader. You can’t have it both ways. You just can’t. You can’t boast about your team’s leadership, and say Carey’s a great guy, a true leader, a pillar in the dressing room, and then turn around and say he gave up on his Coach when the going got tough. Is that a guy you want to go to war with? A guy who quits or gives less than 100% when things don’t go his way or he’s mad at you? Either Price is a leader, or he’s not. Can’t have it both ways.
7. Detroit Red Wings owner Mike Illitch died recently, and there was a ton of great stories that came out about how good a man he really was. One that stood out to me: he paid Rosa Parks’ rent for over ten years after she was assaulted in her home back in 1994. He did a lot of good for Detroit during his life.
8. Antoine Vermette slashing an official was a case of momentary stupidity. He was angry at the botched faceoff. I wonder how this will affect future faceoffs involving the Ducks’ centerman. He’s been suspended for 10 games, which is automatic, and if you ask me, fair.
9. Same can be said for Gustav Nyquist. He seemed in shock after spearing Jared Spurgeon in the face. 6 games is fair.
10. TSN 690 very best friends Mitch Gallo and Sean Campbell have a bet over whether the Leafs will make the playoffs. Gallo says yes, Campbell says no. Loser must wear a rooster suit to the Irish Embassy for an episode of Habs Hot Topic (Saturdays 3PM!). If Mitch Marner is hurt, Gallo may soon be feeling cocky, and NOT in a good way. He crashed into the boards on Tuesday and missed practice on Friday morning. We shall see.
11. Sidney Crosby scored his 1,000 point and the Pittsburgh Penguins PR released a list of 110 players who contributed to those points. The familiar names are there, like Malkin, Letang, Kunitz and Dupuis, but there were others who made me go “oh yeah!”. Guys like Zigmund Palffy, John LeClair and Lyle Odelein.
12. In the category of “I wish I had thought of that”, Eugenie Bouchard came through on her Super Bowl bet with John the Tiger Woods fan. The two sat courtside at the Brooklyn Nets game and actually have a second date in the works. Kudos to you, John. Kudos to you.
13. CFL Free Agency is in full swing and the Montreal Alouettes picked up some interesting pieces: DB Ryan Phillips, who is the active interception leader in the CFL and WR Ernest Jackson, who was a MOP candidate last season and won the Grey Cup with the Ottawa RedBlacks.
14. On Wednesday, Ryan Phillips joined Sean Campbell on the Drive Show and praised Ernest Jackson, calling him a safety who’s playing Wide Receiver. He also said he liked Kavis Reed’s vision, which is in line with what Darian Durant and Nik Lewis have said previously about the Alouettes new GM. The future seems bright for Montreal CFL fans.
15. The Alouettes released Jeff Perrett and have a huge hole on the offensive line. I wonder how Kavis Reed plans on filling it.
16. Josh Bourke is a still a free agent. Played 9 seasons in Montreal before leaving for the Toronto Argonauts last year. He’d look good back in an Alouettes jersey.
17. The Alouettes also signed Quarterback Jacory Harris to a 2 year deal. What does that mean for Vernon Adams Jr? My friend and host of the Weekend Game Plan was none too pleased at this news.
18. While the Alouettes made some solid acquisitions in Free Agency, they lost Safety Marc-Olivier Brouillette and Offensive Lineman Ryan White to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and linebacker Winston Venable signed with the Argos. I still see it as a positive Free Agency for Montreal.
19. Georges St-Pierre is back!!! Exciting news for Quebec MMA fans and UFC fans. My pal Dave Simon (Who by the way is training me in Brazilian Ju-Jistu) expects GSP to move up to middleweight and take on Michael Bisping for a chance to try and become a champion in two weight classes.
20. Dave also told me to look out for Aiemann Zahabi this weekend at UFC Fight Night in Halifax on Sunday. He’s a UFC Insider and is my go-to source for MMA tidbits. He was right! Big win for Zahabi.
21. Kevin Owens broke up with Chris Jericho. Sucks. WWE always pulls the trigger too early on these things. Owens/Y2J was the best thing on WWE TV. Now Owens is set to lose his Universal title to Goldberg, and most likely face Jericho for the US title at WrestleMania. Boooo. The List of KO was pretty cool though. And it lead to this Bergevin/Therrien moment.
22. The Raptors finally made a trade! After nearly 20 months (!) without one, they dealt Terrence Ross and a 2017 1st Round Pick to the Orlando Magic for Power Forward Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is a force defensively and while he can also dunk, he has developed into a reliable 3 point shooter as well. He also becomes an insurance policy for Patrick Patterson, and potentially provides an incentive for a frustrated Kyle Lowry to re-sign with Toronto.
23. The Raptors now have Ibaka’s Larry Bird rights, meaning they can exceed the salary cap when re-signing their own players. They wouldn’t have been able to afford Ibaka had they tried for him in Free Agency.
24. Ibaka’s playoff experience also helps. He has appeared in 90 playoff games with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I’m not saying this puts them over the edge in a series versus LeBron and Cleveland, but it certainly gives them a fighting chance.
25. Jose Bautista reported to Toronto Blue Jays camp early, I guess in an effort to apologize to his teammates after trying to leave but nobody wanting to pay him actual money to do so.
26. Leaving Alex Anthopoulos go continues to be the worst move a sports franchise has made in the past few years.
27. The Montreal Impact begin their season on Saturday, March 4th, 2017 in San Jose versus the Earthquakes. I for one am excited to see them play in the post-Drogba era.
28. A Tom Brady movie? No thank you. Mark Wahlberg as Brady would probably be the highlight of his career.
29. Dave Zirin, a sports editor at the Nation, joined Matthew Ross and I on the Weekend Game Plan to discuss sports in the Age of Trump. He called Trump’s immigration plan the “Shame of the Nation”. Dave is a must-follow on Twitter (@edgeofsports). The interview is really worth checking out. From Mark Cuban to the Kushners and Jeffrey Loria, sports and politics really have intertwined in the past week.
30. I filled in as Producer on Melnick in the Afternoon this week. Rod Francis was in New Orleans and it was an interesting week to say the least. Between Michel Therrien being fired mid-show on Tuesday to Mitch Melnick and Conor McKenna both being too sick to host on Thursday, to a show from Brossard on Friday, I was definitely in for a fun ride. Scotty Bowman was on right before the Therrien news broke and said he was fired by the Buffalo Sabres because he refused to coach. Funny.
31. Can Vince Young crack the Roughriders? Where will Tony Romo and Le’Veon Bell land? I’ll discuss that next week on Fourth Line Minutes.
32. Fun Tidbit of the Week: Elon Musk was so sick of Los Angeles traffic one day recently that as soon as he got to his SpaceX office, he started digging a hole 50 feet wide in order to create tunnels under the city. He even created a company for this effort, The Boring Company. (Boring, get it?)
The Weekend Game Plan went this weekend 7-9 AM, as usual. Guests included Dan Robertson, Stu Cowan, Fred Daigle, Moe Khan, Brian Compton, Stephen Wade and Mark Lidbetter.
Follow @davetrentadue on Twitter.