The final cuts have been made and the opening 23 man roster has been set. The latest cuts have the following 3 players heading to the AHL or junior hockey: Guillaume Latendresse, Peter Vandermeer, and Ron Hainsey.
In some cases, like Hainsey’s and Vandermeer’s, they will be the first players called up to Montreal when the need arises. Guillaume Latendresse’s situation is different and had more implications involving the team in the future.
Most fans would have liked 18 year old power forward Guillaume Latendresse to stay with the Canadiens all season. Latendresse had an excellent camp, but he looked to slow down a little in the last few games and he wasn’t nearly as dominating as he was early on. To be dominating every game is a lot to ask of an 18 year old prospect but his consistency can be worked on back in junior hockey with 25-30 minutes of ice time per game. That is a luxury that the Canadiens cannot afford at this point.
Another snag that the Canadiens brass had to consider is that his age has implications with the unrestricted free agency clause in the new CBA. As per the CBA, after 7 years of service in the NHL he would become an un-restricted free agent. Becoming a UFA at the tender age of 25 is not something Gainey and company wanted to risk unless he is truly ready to make the jump. If you couple this fact with almost unlimited ice time and added learning by playing in all situations that the QMJHL would supply, the decision is justified. If Guillaume works on his consistency and dominates the QMJHL like he should, he will be a virtual lock for the Canadiens roster next season.
Aside from Latendresse, there are others that could have just as easily stuck with the big club but didn’t make the team because of the sheer number of players that were invited to camp with different skill sets and the limited number of positions available on the parent club.
Ron Hainsey was considered somewhat of a lock for this team because he would need to clear waivers in order to be sent down to the Hamilton Bulldogs; and although he had flashes of brilliance when showing his skills in training camp, they were too few and far between. Ron didn’t have the same edge in camp that he had at the end of the season and playoffs for Hamilton. Assuming that Hainsey doesn’t get plucked off the waiver wire [unlikely] he would likely be the first call up among D-men.
Peter Vandermeer had an enthusiastic camp, for lack of a better word. It is no secret what his skills are he showed that whenever possible during the preseason. Peter seemed genuinely “happy to be here” right from day one of training camp, and I think that stemmed from the forward thinking of starting the season in the NHL. However, it is believed that Ivanans may have won his spot by taking on Ottawa Senators tough guy Brian McGratton on Saturday. Peter will be called up should Ivanans not be able to hold up his end of the bargain, but it was still somewhat of a shock to him.
Being “the next one called up” doesn’t make it any easier to swallow for the dejected players returning to junior or AHL from any of the cuts made during training camp, but it can define a player’s character.
The current Canadiens roster is very young, and Alex Kovalev is the oldest player on the team at the young age of 32. A fact like this can break a player’s spirit when thinking about how they will be able to beat out another experienced regular NHL’er for a spot on the roster when retirements seem so far away.
When taken to the extreme, even someone like hall of fame inductee Larry Robinson experienced the same when he heard his name called by Sam Pollock at the draft in 1971. “The Montreal Canadiens? Not on your life will I make that team; J.C Tremblay, Terry Harper, Jacques Laperrier, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Pierre Bouchard. I ‘m going to spend the rest of my life in the American Hockey League; if I‘m lucky!”
Unfortunately we will have to wait another season to see if the players that were cut take it in stride and bring their game to a new level; or if they let being cut dominate their thoughts and ruin their season [like Marcel Hossa did in 2003] costing them precious time in development.
Either way it looks like the Canadiens will have some tough decisions when making cuts in future training camps; this is the only situation that a scouting staff can give the coach headaches and still be praised for it.