We appear to be heading towards the drop dead date for CBA negotiations.
Either a deal is going to be done in the next few weeks or we’re likely looking
at a second lost season in less than a decade. As fans, it’s simple; we
just want NHL hockey back but let’s look at this from another perspective.
Could a full season lockout actually benefit the Habs? It sounds
crazy but there would be some positives mixed with the drawbacks of a lost year.
Obviously this wouldn’t be beneficial from an off-ice (ownership)
perspective. The Habs, as we all know, are one of the biggest revenue
generators in the league. That means owner Geoff Molson will be losing a
substantial amount of profit. Because of this, the focus for this article
will focus on player and off-ice personnel. Here are some of the pros and
cons that would be associated with the lockout wiping out the entire 2012-13
Full Season Lockout Pros
Contracts: The consensus seems to be that once again a full season
lockout will roll a full year off of players’ contracts (this is not guaranteed
though but probable). Although there are some bargain deals Montreal has,
it also has contracts that aren’t so great (such as Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle,
and Andrei Markov whose injury woes sadly place him in this category). A
full lockout would eliminate one year off of these ‘bad’ agreements. This
would also put the Canadiens one year closer to the next big retooling phase.
Gomez, Kaberle, Markov, plus captain Brian Gionta (and a few others with cheaper
salaries) all have their contracts expiring after the 2013-14 season. A
season ending lockout would put the Habs just one year away from being able to
undergo quite possibly another change like the summer of 2009 (ideally, adding
the final pieces to the puzzle).
Galchenyuk: I know there are some that would wholeheartedly disagree
with me regarding this point but the season being cancelled would allow Alex
Galchenyuk to get the full junior season that he needs. I still expect his
play to drop off in the new year simply because he basically missed all of last
year with his knee injury. I’d much rather have that happen in Sarnia than
in the pressure cooker that is Montreal. It would also ensure that the
first year of his ELC won’t be wasted on a partial season. Heck, not
having the inevitable hot-headed debate of whether to keep him down or bring him
up (which I can see being another Price vs Halak-type discussion) would be
Scouting: Even though the NHL isn’t ongoing, scouts are still busy.
Those that would normally be covering the NHL can and have been re-assigned to
either scout the minor pro ranks (AHL or ECHL) or to the junior ranks.
This will provide the opportunity to view prospects extra times and provide more
detailed scouting reports and analysis on these players. Although GM Marc
Bergevin hasn’t been on the job very long, it has quickly become clear that he
is a fan of allowing lots of input and that there is no such thing as too much
information. The extra information that can be provided by the scouts
would be invaluable for Bergevin and Habs’ management.
Full Season Lockout Cons
Bulldogs: The sooner the lockout ends, the better the Bulldogs will
be. Hamilton has unfortunately been outclassed on a number of occasions
this year by teams who have a lot more NHL ready talent than they do.
If/when we get back to NHL hockey this season, the competition level will be
much more suitable for the Bulldogs, who are one of the youngest teams in the
league. That should also allow them to develop better and at a more normal
Draft: Assuming the lottery rules from 2004-05 would be used again,
Montreal wouldn’t exactly be in good shape. Having made the postseason in
two of the last three seasons will mean the Habs would be a team whose odds of
winning the lottery would be in the middle of the pack despite their terrible
year in 2011-12. If you’re of the mindset that the Canadiens are still not
a playoff team (and there is a case to be made for that), there is a decent
chance that they could have a better draft pick by playing and losing compared
to what the lottery would yield.
The Players: Simply put, it’s not a good thing to have players either
sitting and not playing (just training and skating a bit) or playing in lower
levels. As an example, Max Pacioretty had a terrific comeback year in
2011-12. Playing just a handful of games in the NLA certainly will not
help his continued development as a player. Carey Price isn’t going to
have a full season – it doesn’t seem like he has a lot of interest going
overseas. P.K. Subban has already said he won’t go overseas as well.
Having a franchise goalie and top defenceman sit an entire season can’t be good.
With this all said, it’s still clearly best to get a deal done. There
are some potential benefits to ponder if the season gets cancelled but in the
grand scheme of things, dropping the puck far outweighs any of those. It’s
time to get a deal done (although the news from Thursday has made it difficult
to be enthusiastic that the lockout will be over soon). Let’s hope both
sides realize this sooner than later and get back to the table.