When the GM Steps Into The Dressing Room

In hockey like in life, there are times when things aren’t going our way. We usually bare down and get through them. When times are tougher, we sometimes need some outside help for support, counseling and/or motivation. But when all of that fails, then there’s the infamous “intervention”.

Well, after yet another embarrassing loss, this time at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings by the score of 5-2, the intervention came from the top. Marc Bergevin walked down to the Canadiens’ dressing room and locked the door behind him to have a heart to heart with his players. No matter how one may want to take a positive stand on this situation, good luck with that. It’s not a good thing.

What now?

The message from the GM was clear, there’s no doubt. If the team cannot find it within themselves to change the way they play, there will be changes. Some fans are wanting Dominique Ducharme out. The Canadiens are still paying Claude Julien and have just signed Ducharme. The likeliness of another coaching change is minimal, if not totally out of the question.

Geoff Molson, for whatever reason, has his GM sitting like a lame duck with no contract next season. That’s far from ideal as it raises questions about the stability at the top. Until that’s settled, how fair is it to expect the product on the ice to be stable? Molson needs to take care of business one way or another. Then the GM can do his job.

We’ve said it numerous times, the biggest issue is on defense. Jeff Petry is not the shadow of his old self and it has all to do with two things:

  1. He is now facing the toughest opposition, minutes that Shea Weber was taking in the past.
  2. He really missed Joel Edmundson, who drew the best out of him last season.

Edmundson should be back soon but Weber won’t be. The Habs need to get another top-4 right-handed defenseman to face the opposition’s top lines. Only then will all defensemen sit in their right chair, in a role they’re comfortable in. Until then, the Habs’ goalies will struggle and so will the forwards as they’re not getting the puck on the tape on zone exits.

But something has to be done. This is nonsense. This team as a whole is better than what it’s shown in the first nine games or so. They’re just missing stability at the top and a key defenseman. Once that’s fixed, you’ll see a different team.

Habs and Hawks Could Be Good Trade Partners

Time To Shake The Foundation But First, The GM

Molson Creating a Side Show With Bergevin As The Lame Duck

Habs and Hawks Could Be Good Trade Partners

It’s been an off-season to forget for both the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks. In Montreal, it’s been controversy over shocking news ever since the team has lost in the Stanley Cup Finals. Losing their captain Shea Weber, the departure of Joel Bouchard, Carey Price left unprotected for the Expansion Draft, the selection of Logan Mailloux, Phillip Danault leaving, Paul Byron having surgery, Jesperi Kotkaniemi gone with an offer-sheet, Price going on the players assistance program…

For the Hawks, the question marks about captain Jonathan Toews’ health situation, the trade of Duncan Keith, the trade for Marc-Andre Fleury and his subsequent silence for several days, and this whole story about Brad Aldrich and the fall outs since the investigation report came out, including the resignation of GM Stan Bowman. Results? Both teams are mightily struggling out of the gate this season. Both teams need a shake up and start focussing on the season as they are falling fast in the standings.

Please note that I have no sources either with the Canadiens or the Blackhawks and this is only a suggestion that I, personally, feel might work for both teams. I’m not going to venture (too much) into the exact details of a potential deal between the two teams but I do feel like they can help each other out. Add or remove a piece here and there, customize it to your liking. So take the following with a grain of salt… a slice of lime and a shot of tequila!

Trade idea

Here’s what could be the foundation for a potential substantial trade between Montreal and Chicago.

To Montreal:

  • Connor Murphy (RD): carries a $3.85 million cap hit this season, then $4.4 million for four more years after.
  • Dylan Strome (C): $3 million cap hit this season, RFA in the summer with arbitration rights.
  • Andrew Shaw (C/RW): on LTIR for the entire season, $3.9 million LTIR cap.

To Chicago:

  • Ryan Poehling (C): $750,000 cap hit for two years, then RFA.
  • An “A” level prospect or the Habs’ 2nd round pick.
  • One of Artturi Lehkonen, Joel Armia or Paul Byron: for cap relief.
  • “B” level prospects to unload a contract as the Habs are at 48 contracts (max of 50) prior to this trade.

The Habs desperately need a right-handed defenseman who can help Jeff Petry on the right side facing the opposition’s top lines. Petry has been struggling big time so far this season and he’s not the shadow of his old self. Murphy stands at 6-foot 4-inches and weights 212 lbs and he skates very well for such a big man. The 28 year-old has a pretty good shot and usually makes good first passes out of his zone. While he’ll never be in consideration for the Norris Trophy, he goes about his business in a steady and efficient fashion. Good defender, he can be a bit inconsistent as a shut down. He’s a huge improvement over David Savard in just about every aspect.

Strome is a centre who stands at 6-foot 3-inches and 200 lbs. The 24 year-old has only played two games thus far this season and he’s in the coach’s bad books due to his inconsistency. The expectations were high on this former third overall pick by Arizona back at the 2015 NHL Draft but his production has dipped in the past couple of seasons. Habs Rumour Mill informed us that the Habs were scouting the Hawks not long ago and, coincidently, Strome was inserted into the line-up for that game.

The Canadiens still hold 11 picks for the 2022 NHL Draft and are loaded on quality prospects, particularly on left-hand shot defensemen.

Laval/Montreal swap

Last but not least, I personally would send young Cole Caufield down to Laval for a while if, for nothing else, regain his confidence. We’ve never heard anyone say that a player stayed too long in the AHL before making the jump to the NHL but how many times have we seen players being rushed to the NHL, often in roles too big, too soon? The Habs cannot afford to mess the development of this kid as they have done with too many young players in recent history.

The call-up? None other than Michael Pezzetta, who in my humble opinion and based on merit, should have never been sent down to Laval in the first place. He’s on fire with the Rocket. Ducharme could easily bump up Joel Armia (or Lehkonen) to the top-9 forwards and play Pezzetta on the fourth line.

I fully anticipate to read many people, from both or either sides (Habs and/or Hawks) being totally against this idea. And that’s okay, I respect that. Remember that there are few trades happening because few GMs can agree on the value of players so imagine how unrealistic it would be to expect fans agreeing. This is a move that I would like, or something along those lines. It’s far from meaning that it would happen in real life. But it’s still fun to speculate. It beats complaining day in, day out, or arguing with other fans, doesn’t it?