Last week was certainly filled with reminiscing and nostalgia as many former players came up for discussion and board members were asked which active former Canadiens they missed the most. However, in losing both Max Pacioretty and Mike Cammalleri to injury on Tuesday night, the discussion quickly turned to potential replacements for the two top forwards. In this edition of Around the Boards, we take one last glance at some of Montreal’s past players and look ahead at what may be done to fill the newest holes in the ever diminishing Habs line-up.
In responding to the question about which former players our board members missed the most, the answers were certainly quite diverse, even including the likes of Richard Zednik and Tom Kostopolous. But, on the whole, defensemen were the most popular choice. lazy26 laments the departure of a former Swiss powerplay specialist: “The other Canadien I miss is Mark Streit. I always felt he was underutilized as a defenseman in Montreal, and I still think he’s got some of the best hockey smarts out there. Factor in his PP prowess and shot, and it’s a shame he was allowed to walk”. Sakiqc, for his part, misses a certain Sherbrookois blueliner:“The ex-Habs I miss is Stephane Robidas. He would be our top D-man by a mile. In Dallas he has really blossomed as an all-around star, in the league-leaders for hits, a powerplay specialist, a defensive wiz.
Reading some of the names in this thread certainly brought back some memories, but it was also quite painful. You cannot help but realize that the Canadiens have let go of some quality defenders. Former Habs blueliners currently playing in NHL organizations include Francois Beauchemin, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Francis Bouillon, Mike Komisarek, Ron Hainsey Ryan O’Byrne, Craig Rivet, Stephane Robidas, Sheldon Souray and Mark Streit. Seeing the above, you realize that the organization had the pieces to build one of the best backends in the league. Of course, not everyone on this list has turned out to have a brilliant career. Craig Rivet has struggled mightily with the Sabres and seems at odds with Lindy Ruff. Sheldon Souray is currently toiling in the AHL. And, perhaps most disappointing of all, Mike Komisarek has not lived up to his high billing in Toronto. As the Chicoutimi Cucumber so eloquently states: ” The career arc of Komisarek, meanwhile, is a major disappointment to me. I really thought he was going to become a fearsome, punishing, elite shut-down defenseman and the backbone of our D for years to come. Clearly I could not have been more wrong, but Komisarek seems to epitomize for me all the hopes I felt for Gainey Rebuild 1.0, and all the disappointment that it ultimately brought. In the end, it’s not Komi I miss so much as the hope he represented. In my mind he is the symbol of a uniquely bittersweet phase in my experience as a Habs’ fan“.
Moving on to more present and pressing matters, the Canadiens must now look at how to address losing both Max Pacioretty and Michael Cammalleri for the next few weeks. Considering that the squad currently ranks a paltry 26th in goals for, the absence of two top-6 forwards is even more devastating. Nevertheless, our forum members quickly attempted to find solutions for this most recent obstacle. BlueKross, for one, felt that this was a perfect chance to give some younger players a long look:” I do believe at some point you have to determine what you got in Wyman, Maxwell and White. Boyd might be your best player right now, but after what happened to Wellwood yesterday I would be careful putting anyone that had any immediate value on the waiver wire. I wouldn’t panic yet.”
First of all, it should be noted that Andreas Engqvist received a somewhat unexpected call-up today. Nonetheless, considering the length and amount of injuries, it would not be surprising to see a fair amount of players enter the line-up over the coming days and weeks. Second of all, due to the fact that the Habs are down to 11 healthy forwards, Dustin Boyd could be temporarily called up without being submitted to re-entry waivers. In any case, BlueKross’ point is still a valid one. Boyd is a temporary solution at best and his play previously in Montreal was underwhelming. In an ideal world, one of the aforementioned prospects might emerge as an NHL-calibre player or could be used as part of a trade. If nothing else, the presence of such youth should provide a short-term energy boost to the team, much like last year when Desharnais and Wyman were dynamite in a late season win versus Pittsburgh. All of these injuries will also certainly feed rumours and trade talks, but Pierre Gauthier is not dealing from a position of strength here and will probably have to be patient in order to find the right deal, if any at all.
Regardless of what happens though, it promises to be an interesting and rumour filled few weeks.
That’s all for this week’s instalment of ATB. Until next time, see you on the boards.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at [email protected]