Heart to… Hart

By JD Lagrange – Carey Price’s health issues have left the Canadiens scrambling in net for years to come… and it doesn’t appear that there is a solution coming anytime soon. Jake Allen was brought in by Marc Bergevin to be Price’s back up goaltender. He’s now the starter. Samuel Montembeault was picked off waivers and is doing okay. But he’s unlikely to be the solution long term. Cayden Primeau is taking his sweet time to develop and other goaltenders in the organization haven’t even turned pro yet… at least not in North America.

The situation in net for the Canadiens is a position of weakness. This is why it is so important for Kent Hughes and the Canadiens to find a solution and find one quickly. As the team is showing great progress with the young players drafted and acquired via trades since the 2018 Reset, the team won’t be able to take the next step without a suitable keeper.

Changes in Philadelphia

As Daniel Briere has taken over as interim General Manager for the Philadelphia Flyers, changes are coming. They always are after a new GM takes over. Briere himself hinted that while there wouldn’t be a wholesale change over, some key changes will be happening in the off-season.

Jeff Marek addressed concerns about Carter Hart’s future with the Flyers, given the emergence of goaltender Samuel Ersson. If they’re going to go through a rebuild, Marek wondered what Hart could fetch on the trade market and if the 24-year-old netminder wants to spend the best seasons of his career with a rebuilding Flyers.

NHL Standard career statistics
Goalie Stats Scoring
Career5 yrsNHL19418679822653856895151.9052.9741088690.48436103-14.33.1130.70112
Provided by Hockey-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/12/2023.

Hart has one more year left to his contract, carrying a cap hit of $3.98 million. He then become a RFA with arbitration rights.

Why not the Habs?

The Flyers want to rebuild on the run and there are many reasons why the Canadiens would be a great trade partner with them.

  • The Habs’ cupboards are stacked with quality prospects, having drafted about 50 players since Marc Bergevin’s 2018 Reset, and 11 more in the upcoming NHL Draft. You can only sign so many…
  • Hart has an affordable cap hit for next season and has yet to have a great season to justify a huge pay raise
  • Standing at 6-foot 2-inches, he has good size
  • He’s only 24 years of age, so close to coming into his own
  • He grew up idolizing Carey Price, who is still under contract. Perhaps Price could help him out a bit?

My personal observation of Hart is that he is very mobile and athletic. He covers the bottom of the net very well. When he gets into trouble, it’s often because he tends to drop on his knees too quickly and doesn’t make himself big enough when in a butterfly position. A good goalie coach will get him to stand tall on his knees instead of crouching forward. Everything else, he has, including the talent to be a good franchise goalie.

Of all the names that have been thrown out there for potential young goaltenders for Canadiens’ trade targets, Carter Hart would be, by far, my favourite. My second favourite would be Flames’ prospect Dustin Wolf.

GM Announcement Coming Soon, But Narrative Won’t Die

Montreal is a special hockey market, there’s no doubt about it. And when Chantal Machabée accepted the job of VP of Communications, she knew it too well. Still, after multiple discussions with the Montreal Canadiens’ senior management, she accepted the role she had been offered and not many people think that she cannot do the job well. She will be of great help for Geoff Molson, Jeff Gorton, the soon to be announced new GM and the head coach, whether they retain Dominique Ducharme or not.

GM to be announced soon!

Speaking of the GM search, the process is showing, once again, how “special” the Montreal market truly is. While most good reporters stick to the facts, there are some a little less reputable who want to create controversy. In spite of the fact that 17 other NHL teams have a different person for Hockey Operations and General Manager, some feel the need to feed the crowds the belief that the next GM will be nothing more than a puppet, a French figure, for Gorton who will actually have the role of GM.

“We will be able to announce our future GM very soon” ~ France Margaret Bélanger on 91.9 Sports (Jan.14/21)

And it doesn’t matter that what Gorton or Molson say about it. Their mind is made up that the new GM will, in fact, be an assistant-GM. In his first press conference, Gorton clearly stated that the new GM would be the one in contact with other GMs around the league but that fact goes over too many people’s head as a lie, a cover-up. Why is that, you ask? Because it fits a narrative.

Narrative of the puppet

That narrative goes like this… They believe that since the Canadiens, in their current market, cannot hire an anglophone as General Manager, Geoff Molson couldn’t give Gorton both the VP of Hockey Ops and GM titles, as Marc Bergevin had. They don’t believe Molson when he said that in retrospect, he realized that it’s a two-men job in Montreal. Instead, they chose to believe that it’s a cover-up, that both Molson and Gorton are liars and that they’re not searching for a GM, but for a couple of assistant-GMs. That’s the narrative they want people to believe and many truly believe that deep inside… in spite of the facts, or what the organisation is saying.

Here’s the deal. Yes, Geoff Gorton will have the last say when it comes to Hockey Operations. The fact that they’re looking at a very green GM – green meaning inexperienced – will, indeed, ask more of Gorton while he trains his new protégé. The reality, from what the organisation says, is that Gorton’s role when it comes to the GM duties, will diminish with time as the new GM gets more experience. Gorton will always supervise because he’s the boss, the VP. That’s how it is in any Corporation and it’s perfectly normal. But the new guy will have more and more freedom as he gains experience.

The disconnect between the truth and the narrative is where or when this job splitting will diminish, or where the line will be drawn between Gorton’s role and the new GM’s role. And that cannot be determine by any of us outside the organisation for the time being. What we do know is that there is a person as VP of Hockey Ops and there will be a General Manager, and that Gorton stated that the GM will have a GM role. The rest is pure fabrication, imagination and wishful thinking to fit a narrative. Some of it is justification (in some people’s mind) as to why Patrick Roy wasn’t selected.

More reading…

Decisions To Come On Defense by Bob Trask

Habs Looking More Like Road Kills Than Road Warriors

Tough Decisions Ahead For The Habs