Thursday, June 17, 2010

Habs Drop Halak - And All Common Sense

I have 2 other blogs written I have been sitting on - unable to post because of work priorities - but now.... NOTHING takes priority over a catastrophic hockey blunder. One from my hometown team none the less!

Today the Montreal Canadiens traded their hottest player, their strongest player, their best shot at a solid future.

Premium goaltender, Jaroslav Halak is now a member of the St. Louis Blues.

I feel like I just found out about an unexpected death. A suicide, actually. And in a way, I did. Because any hope that Habs fans had of a repeat of the glorious, underdog, inspiring playoff run - or a Stanley cup in the near future - is now unabashedly, undeniably DEAD.

In this year's Stanley Cup playoffs, Halak won two intense Game 7s. He was the undisputable, number one reason Montreal - the Eastern Conference's eighth seed - knocked out the number one seed Capitals and heavily favoured Penguins (Ovechkin and Crosby respectively).

Now fans and sports writers alike knew that the goaltending line-up in Montreal would not remain the same for next year. Both Price and Halak become free agents July 1st. And keeping them both is an impossibility due mostly to salary cap limitations. Montreal has danced around officially naming a number one goalie. They spent most of the season shuffling Price and Halak. But the playoffs showed Halak deserves the number one spot. And finicky, sometimes vicious Montreal fans (an important part of hockey, especially in Montreal where the sport is a religion and the team, something to be worshipped) proclaimed Halak their Messiah. The fact the he was just traded away is...... well there are no words.

Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox said today that Habs GM Pierre Gauthier "probably made the hardest choice by moving Halak" which I whole heartedly disagree with. He made the dumbest choice, not the hardest. There was no hard choice, only an easy one - get rid of Price.

When interviewed by TSN, Pierre Gauthier seemed to focus mostly on age. "Carey Price is young.... He's a young man that could be very successful in the league."

Yeah Price could be, but yet he IS NOT. Price, who was 13-20-5 with a 2.77 average and a .912 save percentage, has struggled to find consistency at the NHL level. Furthermore, the only thing Price has been consistent about is meltingdown. Carey Price lost his temper (after letting in too many easy goals), and started hurling the pucks at the backs of celebrating Penguins players. During the playoffs. Not once, but TWICE. This garnered an unsportsmalike penalty.

Canadiens GM Gauthier thinks we should have THAT over a Halak who stopped 131 shots out of 134 that came his way by the number 1 team in the league. WTF?!

Halak was ranked fourth in the NHL in save percentage (.940), ninth in goals against average (2.40) and was tied for fifth with five shutouts. He was traded away for two players - Lars Eller and Ian Schultz - who've played mostly in the minors for the last year. But, shockingly, Gauthier happily refers to them as "young" and, according to Damien Cox, "cheap talent".

The biggest victim in all this is Montreal fans who - as stated earlier - have, with this trade, lost all real hope at regaining the dynasty they once had. But the second biggest victim is Carey Price. Because he's going to be the recipient of all the fans' fierce anger. He'll step out on that ice next season and the boos and jeers may actually crumble the Bell Centre. This won't be coming from me though, because my Habs jersey - circa 1988 with Stephane Richer's name and number - is now heading for the attic. I will not, cannot, flatout REFUSE to further support a team that makes such an unfathomable, insane decisions.

So... my last words to the organization I have cheered for the last 24 years...

Dear Pierre Gauthier, you can take your "young" goalie and your "cheap talent" and shove it up your Molson-drinking arse. I hope you choke on your poutine. I am done with you and your organization. J'ai juste une chose a dire maitenant - GO BLUES!!!

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