Although he’s an easy target for fans to pick on, I can’t help but feel a
little sorry for Pierre Gauthier over this last week. He took a gamble by
waiting until late in the offseason to add to Montreal’s depth and after a few
days of very strange circumstances, all the Habs have left to show for four
acquisitions is Joe Callahan. With all due respect to the newest Bulldog,
I don’t think anyone considers that ideal.
I’ve noticed a lot of fans have criticized Gauthier for seemingly sitting on
his hands lately but that hasn’t really been the case. For the second
straight offseason, he chose to wait until late to get his depth guys and the
strategy worked…sort of. Things were looking thin on defence for
Hamilton so Jeff Woywitka was added. Sadly, he needed waivers to go down
and the Rangers claimed him, blocking the Bulldogs from getting what would have
been a legitimate top pairing defenceman. Depth was also needed in the
NHL, so Chris Campoli was signed. Of course, by pure fluke, he gets caught
in a rut in Game 1 and is out for a few months after seeming like he’d be a good
fit in limited action.
Then there’s the whole Blair Betts fiasco. He seemed like the perfect
fit for that 4th line C role, good size, decent on the draw, and a good cap hit.
There weren’t too many players who had that combination of characteristics
sitting around on the UFA market this summer so waiting looked like the right
move again. Of course, team doctors found a serious injury that Betts had
been playing through and got the waiver claim rescinded. Still, it was
certainly the right move to try to make.
At the very least, one of the newcomers will actually play as Callahan will
likely see game action on Hamilton’s upcoming road trip to St. John’s.
Though many dismissed this signing as irrelevant, he’ll have a big role with the
Bulldogs and is the only real call up option that has NHL experience.
(I’m on record in saying that Alex Henry simply cannot be a call up option, at
least not as a defenceman; he can barely handle third pairing minutes on the
farm as it is so he can’t play that role with the Habs.) He’s no more
than a consolation prize but at least he’ll help.
So as fun as it is for some to pick on Gauthier, I can’t see how some fans
can do so here. Team needs were identified and addressed (though later
than some would have liked), the Habs were just bit by an extreme case of
untimely circumstances. If you’re a believer that bad luck will one day be
offset by good luck, Montreal surely is due for some of the latter. Good
intentions can only take you so far as we’ve seen these last few weeks.