Friday, January 02, 2009

Latendresses Playing Together?

Let's See...

RDS wrote yesterday about the dream of the two Latendresse brothers playing together on the Montreal Canadiens. Certainly not a rare dream. My brother and I would love to give it a shot too. I think any two brothers from Montreal would count themselves in.

The Latendresses are getting close (well, closer), I'll give them that. It's been a while since two local brothers have played for the big team. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the last were the Lebeaus in the early 1990s (when Patrick played a couple of games in Montreal); just before them the Lemieuxs did it (Claude and Jocelyn). And of course if they did make it happen they would join a list of brothers to play for the Habs, and a group of Quebecois to accomplish the dream headed by the Richards, the Manthas and the Cleghorns.

For fun and love of pure fantasy, I thought about the chance of the brothers playing together this season. Though I believe the possibility to be as likely as a Georges Laraque all-star appearance, even the thought of it scared me. So i ask: Are the Latendresses up to it? Is it really time to start dreaming of a reunion in the NHL? Why did RDS come up with this story?

As I alluded to in my headline, I would hope not. Not for their sake and not for our sake.It would be a nice story and a nice dream to fulfill. But if you consider what would really need to happen for Olivier Latendresse to make it to the Canadiens, then the prospect becomes more frightening. If this reunion were to come out of genuine need and follow the best-man promoted protocol - it would mean the Habs would be in deep trouble.

Consider for a moment that Olivier, though climbing, is still 24th on the Canadiens depth chart for forwards if I'm generous enough to jump him in front of Mike Glumac and Brock Trotter (and excluding, say, Danny Kristo). For him to make the big club (and play) there would have to be at least of those ahead of him fallen or removed via trade. 11 forwards is a lot, especially for a team that sometimes struggles to score. I can't think of many scenarios (other than the 11 directly ahead of him in the depth) where needing to promote Olivier Latendresse this season would be palatable.

Suppose that Olivier instead gets the call based on his play in December. When I read that Olivier had a good December in Hamilton, frankly I was expecting good things. When I checked what that meant, I saw it meant 5 assists and no goals in 8 games. It is possible that with this play (and another few weeks of the same), he could be considered for the next promotion.

The thing that would thoroughly scare me about that possibility is the collapse of the 8 or so others in front of him in the depth chart. It's great for Olivier that he's playing well, and I hope he continues to do so. But a lot of Habs hope and planning up front lies with key players in Hamilton - players like Chipchura, Pacioretty, White, Russell and even Stewart. These players were selected by the Canadiens as amateurs and have been groomed by them. For a Phoenix prospect to come in being claimed off waivers and outdo them by putting up an assist every other game would be scary indeed. For anyone who questions the strength of depth that we have already (with Maxwell, Sergei and D'Agostini trying to find their feet) then losing hope with the remaining depth would be awful.

They could play together this season - in Hamilton. I think Guillaume was timely in his recovery, but another lapse like November and he could conceivably be down for a rehab of his shooting skills (a la Price 2008). Then and only then, I think, would the Latendresses pro hockey dream of playing together come true.

Why did RDS spring this editorial?

The piece was done for fun. Pure and simple. I know how these things go, you have a list of ideas for pieces and you get one out from under the pile when it seems most appropriate. I guess Guillaume's resurgence, or rather his NHL-calibre play, of late instigated the piece. Same for my response, pure fun.

Even so the interesting question of whether the Canadiens do actually have adequate depth at forward (should they be unable to sign some players this summer) is legitimate and called to the fore here. from what I've seen, I wouldn't be looking forward to counting on Maxwell as early as next season, would you guys?

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