Sunday, January 27, 2008

Habs fine. And Dandy?

All's well in Habsland.

For the team that's playing, that is.

Listen to the Habs podcast on Habs Inside/Out and you'll hear how everything's not exactly perfect. For one thing people are coming back from injury.

Most people would classify this as an indisputable positive. However, somehow the Gazette Sports gurus managed to reason that there is negative in bodies coming back. They purport that it means tough decisions for the coach, in that he may have more than one player able to complete an NHL shift available for each place.

Forgive me for thinking that is a good thing and not a bad, and that a few tough decisions shouldn't overtax a coach, but I guess I disagree with the paid members of the Habs blogosphere. One notable Lions in Winter dissenter and purveyor of wet blanket is one-time team guy Mathieu Dandenault, who seems to give credence to what the Habs I/O guys say (courtesy of Sans ligne rouge):

Dandenault a indiqué qu’il parlerait à son agent et à sa famille afin de savoir comment réagir. « Je peux aider des équipes de la LNH », a lancé Dandenault en ouvrant la porte à une transaction. Car ce qu’il a dit ce matin c’est : si le Canadien ne croit pas que je peux l’aider à tous les matchs, qu’on me donne la chance de le faire ailleurs.

Dandenault said that he would be speaking to his agent and his family to decide how to react (to his benching). "I can help teams in the NHL," protested Dandenault, leaving the door open for a trade. So, what he said this morning is: if the Canadiens don't believe I can help in every game, they should give me the chance to do that elsewhere.

Mathieu Dandenault? Get it together mate.

You were moved to forward because the team wanted to leave a place for an inexperienced defenseman or Brisebois to get some playing time. You are on the fourth line. Your competition is improving with every shift. And, you my friend are not.

Oh, I agree that he could still help NHL teams. But let's face it, so can Jason Ward, Jan Bulis and Garth Murray. The Habs are growing up, and like those who went before him, Dandenault is becoming less useful as we discover pieces that fit much better. After all, who would opt for Dandenault over Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre or Guillaume Latendresse? Tom Kostopoulos? Steve Begin?

The teams that Mathieu could help by playing everyday are numerous and all have one thing in common: they are going nowhere. Not many teams with one or two pieces to fill for the cup run are looking for a really fast forward turned defenseman turned forward who can't really score. Players who can't score come cheaper than Dandy, that's for sure. Florida might need a hand, maybe Chicago or Columbus, but his Detroit days are well and truly over.

Even so, I don't agree with all the thoughts put into Matt's mouth by Francois Gagnon (which for the sake of the argument here, I will believe that Mathieu buys into) that since he can help an NHL team, the Canadiens should automatically trade him.

For one thing, I think the team that Dandenault is most likely to be in a position to help this year is the Canadiens. As such, I do think Dandenault has a place with the team, but it can only be to help the team.

For example, if he can find the patience to sit out more than 2 games, he might look forward to a possible role in the playoffs, where coaches often prefer to get some veterans in there for key games and roles. Or, if he finds some of his September self, he can take a mature approach and help the young players to iron out parts of their game where they lack.

So, get your head together Mathieu and try to avoid saying any more stupid things to the press until you cool off. You are a large part of what this team is and why they have become what they are.

Get yourself traded to the Habs 2005 equivalent if you want, but you may well regret leaving this talented young bunch behind.

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