Local Impact Lacking On the Habs

By JD Lagrange – It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been too long since the Montreal Canadiens counted an impact player from Quebec in its ranks. Historically speaking, the team was created to be a group of French Canadians to rival the Montreal Maroons, way back in 1909. While some are quick to blame the organization for it, they are not the biggest reasons, believe it or not, as we’ve demonstrated before. But they are also not blameless. Over the years, management has passed on some very good local talent only to draft slugs instead. Every team does, but it makes matters worse when it’s the Canadiens passing on quality French Canadians, it seems.

Added pressure

On the Hockey Sans Limites podcast last week, I was debating with my friend and host Yanick Gagné on the topic. He, like many others, feels like no Quebecois can survive the pressure of being a top-6 forward or top pairing defenseman in Montreal. Many feel like these guys would be devoured alive by both fans and media.

There is no denying that there is added pressure being a local talent, speaking the language and playing in Montreal. The examples are countless. Look at Jonathan Drouin today. Look at the likes of Patrice Brisebois, David Desharnais, Mike Ribeiro, Pierre Dagenais, José Théodore or Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, just to name a few. Fans and media are the first, year in and year out, crying about the lack of French Canadian speaking players on the team yet, they are the first ones to chase them out of town. It’s hypocritical, nothing less.

A long time coming

Patrick Roy

Just yesterday, I was discussing with someone on Twitter on the topic. He said something that hit me. He claimed that he didn’t remember the last time a Quebecois worked out in Montreal. I advanced the name of Phillip Danault but then, the topic turned to the fact that he wasn’t an impact player. While playing on the Canadiens’ top line and being the most productive center on the team, he certainly wasn’t amongst the top centers in the NHL, for sure.

Digging a little further, I realized that the last impact Quebecois on the team was none other than Patrick Roy. He was traded in 1995, so it will be 27 years ago to the date in December! Wow… no wonder younger fans don’t remember the last impact French Canadian on the team! Many of them weren’t even born back then.

Prior to Roy, you have to go back to Vincent Damphousse, Pierre Turgeon and Stéphane Richer. I’ll let you do the math but I’ll tell you right now, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture.

Pierre-Luc Dubois

Which brings me to a hot topic this summer… You have a 24 year-old from Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, who is openly stating that he won’t sign a long term deal with the Winnipeg Jets because he wants to play for the Canadiens. Not impact enough? We’ve provided our readers with Pierre-Luc Dubois’ statistical comparisons to Jonathan Huberdeau at the same age. We’ve debunked his so-called “attitude” issues…

Still, instead of welcoming the idea, being excited about the fact that a top-end local talent, an impact center of 6-foot 2-inches, 210 lbs wants to wear the jersey, fans are questioning his character and finding every excuses NOT to trade for Dubois. That’s right, you can’t make that stuff up!

So, fans and media… You want to play the blame game? Grab a mirror and take a deep, long look folks. Perhaps it’s us who don’t deserve to have them play on our favourite team.

More reading…

Worst Trades In Habs’ Modern History

Less than two weeks away from trade deadline, we saw a topic make its round on Twitter, one that we simply couldn’t ignore. According to some, the trade that sent Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay and Jonathan Drouin to Montreal is up there amongst the worst trades in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, right up there with the Patrick Roy trade of 1995…

Honestly, it’s mind boggling that some people think that it ranks amongst the worst trades in history. Either it’s a gross exaggeration on their part, or it’s simply just another sign of hater towards Drouin. But don’t take my word for it. As I often like to do, instead of just spewing stuff on Twitter, I’ve decided to do some research.

Since being acquired by the Canadiens, Drouin is third on the team in scoring, behind only Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry. But due to injuries, he played fewer games than his two teammates. In fact, he has 0.60 points per games played while Gallagher has 0.63 and Petry 0.54. So as you see, it’s not like he hasn’t produced. Fans are frustrated likely because he hasn’t lived up to their own expectations, and he has spent substantial time on the injured list.

Worst Habs’ trades in history

Without further ado, in chronological order, here are trades that have all been much, much worse than the Drouin trade. As I’m not overly familiar with the older days of Toe Blake and company, I stuck with the modern era of the NHL.

1990 – Serge Savard

To To
Jyrki Lumme2nd rd pick (Craig Darby)
To To
Chris CheliosDenis Savard
2nd rd pick
To To
Bobby SmithLouis Bernard
To To
Claude LemieuxSylvain Turgeon

1995 – Serge Savard/Réjean Houle

To To
John LeclairMark Recchi
Eric DesjardinsMartin Hohenberger
Gilbert Dionne
To To
Patrick RoyJocelyn Thibault
Mike KeaneMartin Rucinsky
Andrei Kovalenko 

1996 – Réjean Houle

To To
Pierre TurgeonShayne Corson
Cory FitzpatrickMurray Baron
Craig Conroy5th rd pick

1998 – Réjean Houle

To To
Stephane RicherPatrick Poulin
Darcy TuckerMike Vukota
David WilkieIgor Ulanov

1999 – Réjean Houle

To To
Mark RecchiDainius Zubrus
2nd rd pick (Scott Selig)
6th rd pick (Matt Carkner)

2006 – Bob Gainey

To To
Mike RibeiroJanne Niinimaa
6th rd pick5th rd pick

2009 – Bob Gainey

To To
Ryan McDonaghScott Gomez
Chris HigginsTom Pyatt
Pavel ValentenkoMike Busto
Doug Janik

2012 – Pierre Gauthier

To To
Mike CammalleriRene Bourque
Karri RamoPatrick Holland
5th rd pick2nd rd pick

So as you can see, the Drouin for Sergachev trade is nowhere close to any of these trades. It is, however, arguably Marc Bergevin’s worst trade. Considering the number of big trades he completed, it goes to show how good the man was at trading and getting value in that aspect of his role. It’s also important to point out that when talking about Habs’ history, they were created in 1909. For the sake of this exercise, we stopped at 1990 so there were others prior to that, you can bet your hat on it!

Something to note about this research that perhaps was a bit unexpected… Serge Savard has been very critical of his successors recently. With his name being linked to five of the top-12 worst trades, perhaps “The Senator” should look at his own contribution to the demise of the Canadiens after the two Stanley Cups Patrick Roy won him single-handedly?

More reading…

Habs Must Stay True To The Plan

Bergevin Trade Deadlines Highlights

A Close Look At Bergevin’s Time In Montreal