Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Is Koivu On The Outs?

Gainey hasn't said anything in near 3 weeks, yet the Ottawa Sun (via a affiliated newspaper) seems to have the inside track on the Canadiens situation.

Stated very surely, here it is:
It would appear Saku Koivu’s days with the Canadiens are finished. The Habs captain will likely test the UFA market, although talk has resurfaced that he’s simply going to pack his bags for Minnesota to play with brother Mikko on the Wild. The Habs, meanwhile, are trying to sign D Mike Komisarek and RW Alexei Kovalev. Komisarek is expected to test the market, while Kovalev is expected to stay in Montreal.

Garrioch's notorious for being a rumour-monger. But I've seen the Kovalev (now discredited) report from Russia used by journalists nearly every day for three weeks now. We all know the level of research they do is minimal, probably less than us amateurs. But honestly. A Russian report? Discredited a day after it was written? Do we still have to read the off shoots of this garbage.

The real answer re: Koivu is that we simply don't know. We don't know whether he has been contacted by Gainey at all or was signed 2 weeks ago. All we do know is that Tanguay is not priority number one.

One thing I am now getting a better picture of is public opinion. Well at least some of it. RDS recently added a game called "Jouez au DG". The application allows a punter like you or me to use the current signed and delivered Canadiens team (did anyone else think we were stuck with Metropolit? quite unfortunate) as a basis for adding free agents only.

It seems like a fun idea.


One interesting aspect of the game is that it sets players salaries. For the most part they look like they are in the right ballpark, although there are a few bargains to be had and a few no one will pay – like Tanguay at $5 million and Bouillon at $2.5M (I wonder how that happened?). Anyway, according to the computer, Saku Koivu comes in at a salary of $4 million a year. That makes him the 4th highest salaried centre and the 12th highest among forwards. His $4 million puts him below teammates Kovalev, Tanguay and Komisarek (seems logical).


Given the low salary, one might think Koivu would make a popular choice for a team in need of two centres to spearhead their offence. Not so. Maybe not too surprising, but I didn't expect Koivu on board to draw a blank.

When you search the most recent editions of teams to the website for "Koivu", that's just what Saku did – nothing comes up. Not one person has re-signed Saku for the upcoming season.

Here's a quick summary of the UFAs that were signed from the page that I saw:

Robert Lang (7)
Alex Tanguay (6)
Francois Beauchemin (5)
Alex Kovalev (5)
Jay Bouwmeester (4)
Erik Cole (3)
Ian Laperriere (3)
Henrik Sedin (3)
Mike Komisarek (3)
Mike Comrie (2)
Daniel Sedin (2)
Manny Malhotra (2)
Steve Begin (2)
Mathieu Schneider (1)
Mark Recchi (1)
Stephane Yelle (1)
Rob Scuderi (1)
Marian Gaborik (1)
Chad LaRose (1)
Jason Williams (1)
Maxim Afinogenov (1)
Mathieu Dandenault (1)
Rhett Warrener (1)
Nick Boynton (1)
Mike Cammalleri (1)
Andrew Raycroft (1)
Denis Gauthier (1)
Stephane Veilleux (1)
Todd Bertuzzi (1)
Andre Roy (1)
Dany Sabourin (1)

Now those were the selections of the public (thank goodness our GM has hockey knowledge), but not to be outdone three RDS experts also contributed – offering another Koivu blanking:

Gaston Therrien signed these UFAs:

Alex Tanguay at $5M
Erik Cole at $2.5M
Alex Kovalev at $4.25M
Mike Cammalleri at $4.5M
Mike Komisarek at $4.5M
Francois Beauchemin at $5M

(He's such an astute GM that he allowed less than $3M to sign all the rest of players needed to ice a team)

Alain (Le Baron) Chantelois signed these UFAs:

Alex Tanguay at $5M
Chris Neil at $2.6M
Alex Kovalev at $4.25M
Mike Cammalleri at $4.5M
Francis Bouillon at $2.5M
Francois Beauchemin at $5M
Nick Boynton at $3M

(I think he showed his special touch in signing Bouillon for a $0.8M raise while leaving less than a minor league salary in buffer)

It goes on and on. You can read their choices here.

(Note: Please forgive them for signing no reserves, they haven't watched much hockey. Plus they were all too busy throwing money at Beauchemin)

Why no Koivu?

It's a funny thing, this complete omission of Koivu.

We all watched the playoffs. We all watched last year too (pre-broken foot and post-broken foot). But memories, it seems are fickle.

Koivu, it seems is being blamed by the fans for 16 years of blah. It's unfair that he would be, but he's the one constant isn't he? (Well there's that defender, but he was such a big contributor to the 1993 championship that he's rightly forgiven).

I am not looking forward to the day that Koivu is not a Hab, but I might be able to manage. If losing Koivu is a step the team must take to progress – to make room for a Sedin, for example, then I might see the value. I can't stomach losing Koivu to make room for Mike Comrie. I can't stand losing Koivu so that Komisarek can play as the 5th defenceman on $4.5 million a year. I won't be happy if Tanguay gets recalled before Saku or if the $4 million we cave on Koivu is spent on a raft of Gauthiers and Laperrieres.

One thing is clear, if Koivu is re-signed, and becomes the longest serving captain in team history, there will be many unhappy people in the rank and file. Equally clear is that many of those who will be unhappy (based on this sample) have as much hockey sense as Rejean Houle...

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