By Bob Trask – When Jeff Petry signed his contract with the Canadiens the world looked a lot different to him and to Canadiens fans. The fact that he is open to a trade is unsurprising.
Over the past few years Marc Bergevin was the general manager and Petry seemed close to teammates like Shea Weber and Carey Price. From the management group through to the players, it seemed like this tight knit group could continue together for the foreseeable future and be competitive by adding a few complementary pieces.
Through no fault of his own, all of that has changed and probably had a significant impact on mindset. Bergevin is gone. Weber’s career seems to have come to an end and Carey Price hasn’t played a single game this year. He is also without his playing partner from last year, Joel Edmundson. Out of five key pieces tasked with the job of keeping the puck out of the Montreal net, only Petry has played this year. It’s a heavy load to heap on one man’s shoulders.
An even bigger influence on Petry’s mental outlook and his play is his family situation. While he toils alone in Montreal his family is living in Michigan. Even when travel is easy it is a difficult situation; with travel restrictions it moves from difficult to almost impossible.
I can’t imagine operating at peak efficiency under those circumstances and it is unfair to expect Petry to put it all aside. It has to be constantly weighing on his mind.
There is a passion for the Canadiens in Montreal and when the team struggles, the knives often come out and are pointed at those who fans and media feel are responsible for any failings.
The advent of social media has exacerbated the problem. Many comments are uninformed, spiteful and provided without any kind of filter. There is no editor monitoring content to check whether it is appropriate and the results can be toxic. Players can say they ignore social media but they know it’s there and it has to have an impact.
Editor’s note: It got progressively worse, to the point where his wife Julie deleted her Twitter account. Now, some fans are after her on her Instagram account.
The Way Forward
The way forward out of this unfortunate situation is not clear and there are three paths that could be taken.
- One is keeping Petry for this season and trying to maximize his trade value in the off-season. That means the Canadiens could have an extremely unhappy player on their hands and that kind of negativity can impact a team. And if his play continues at current levels his value could depreciate even further.
- A second option is for the Canadiens to keep Petry around for the remainder of his contract. Given his obvious unhappiness, the direction that Kent Hughes seems to be taking and his age this seems to be the least likely of all options.
- The third option is to work with Petry and help him find a new team before the trade deadline. The Canadiens are unlikely to maximize their return in this scenario but it still may be the best way to move forward. It would likely remove an air of unhappiness from the dressing room and that would be good for the team and for Petry.
The reality is that Petry does hold some cards in the form of a modified no-trade clause. He must provide a list of 15 no-trade teams. This can limit the market for him even if the club waits until the off-season to make a move. So exploring possibilities now seems prudent even if there aren’t a lot of them.
The Hughes Factor
There is still a lot to be discovered about how Hughes will approach his job as a general manager but early indications are that he is considerate of his players. He mentioned that any trade would have to work for the Canadiens but it would also have to work for Jeff Petry.
His background also means he is well versed in contract negotiations, salary cap limitations and other financial factors. While he is looking at the Petry situation he will have one eye on what kind of assets he could possibly receive in return but he will also have an eye on the salary cap situation. Sometimes the importance of that is overlooked.
Hughes could very well be receptive to taking less in the form of players, prospects or draft picks in return for freeing up valuable cap space.
Recent developments indicate that Jeff Petry’s time with the Canadiens is probably nearing its end. Only time will tell which path the Canadiens will choose to follow. We can only hope that it works out for all parties involved.
The Bergevin Legacy by Bob Trask