Friday, February 12, 2010

A Bulldog And Bulldog Hater

Thoughts On Today's Moves

With two games and a few hours to go before a rare two week break in play, Pierre Gauthier has stepped up to provide some management.

When I used to race in the swimming pool, one of the constant corrections given to me and my teammates was to swim through the walls. What the coach meant was that we should resist the temptation to see the wall and coast in, even for a metre. That's what I like about these moves. While the Habs were a metre or two out from a long break, and with all the goings on could be forgiven for coasting and hoping, these moves indicate our GM isn't willing to coast through any stretch of games, and that he's willing to do the bit of effort it took to move personnel and rejig. Maybe I should reserve my praise until the paperwork is cleared, however.

PK Subban

PK? I prefer to think of him as PP Subban.

This move is a well-timed pinch by the GM. IN a single move, he rewards Subban for his play and effort in Hamilton, while also bringing in a potential PP piece for two games that project to have their share of penalties.

The move is all the more brilliant in its timing. If the season to this point has revealed anything about the development plans of the Habs, it's that PP Subban is being ripened in Hamilton. There were several occasions when his call-up was more pressing than yesterday, yet he remained a Bulldog. His promotion for these two games are bordered by the Olympic break, which means his re-demotion is a certainty, and won't be clouded by any play, goal or rush.


Maxwell's second stint in the big leagues told us much. Firstly, it was no different than his first stint, which tells me his progression isn't as impressive as Hockey's Future seems to paint it. Secondly, having watched him for several games, I don't see him somehow metamorphosing into a second line centre. Not next season. Perhaps never.

We should neer right any one off completely, but Maxwell has some searching to during this stint in Hamilton. He knows his deficiencies now vs. NHL competition. It is up to him to get to work on them.

Dominic Moore

The Bulldog-hater here is former Harvard man Dominic Moore, who must be grateful the Canadiens unloaded that freeloading Yale Bulldog, Higgins, in the summer of discontent.

In the land of "No one can ever just be pleased", this trade has already been hailed as many things. I've seen people question Moore without really doing more than linking to career stats. I've seen others talk about too high a pick going the other way.

I have to say, I am quite positive about this move.

In one sense, I am pleased for Dominic's fans – I happen to be very good friends with some of his biggest fans (family). They will finally be able to wash the blue out of their clothes and burn those horrible Leafs sweaters.

But for our hockey team, I am doubly pleased. Gauthier has chosen a player that, if I know anything about hockey, should be a complement to our team. He is fast, he is intelligent and he is disciplined.

It is interesting to look at his career and find average numbers, but a mere season ago, Dominic was spearheading the Leafs attack on many nights. The fact that he managed 41 points in 63 games may not herald a breakout, but it promises that given a wide open mandate, he can be in the right place enough times to contribute significantly.

I've always had this impression as I watched his career (with interest). He doesn't have the Kostitsyn wrist shot or the Pouliot sneakiness, but he knows how to position himself in two zones.

I look at Dominic therefore as our Toronto Mathieu Darche – a solid contributor, who with a bit of timing and the right linemates can easily surprise his doubters (who will no doubt remember telling this blogger Darche was not an answer, before he had a hand in 10 goals in 11 games).

The other very very positive thing about this trade is that it was Florida who made it. Florida is a team supposedly in pitched battle with the Canadiens for a playoff spot this spring. Their team is not exactly blessed with scorers, nor with forwards any team would covet. Moore is not the devastating blow that will debilitate the team for the next months, but it seems like a pretty good signal that Randy Sexton has seen what the future may hold and decided to find draft picks instead.

It seems we might be able to add Florida to the list that includes the quitting Thrashers and the hopeless Leafs as teams that are booking concerts in their stadia and golf games in their iphones.

In sum, these moves are not major moves. Nevertheless, this is the kind of active management I have been waiting to see. Subban up against an opponent that fits and Moore to fill a hole, no matter how temporary.

The Habs seem to be committing to trying to win games this weekend and for the rest of the season. Perhaps we won't look like Cup favourites on the cusp of playoff time vs. NJ or Ottawa (!?!), but as any self-respecting Senators, Sabres, Hurricanes or Bruins fan will tell you, there's no amount of planning or analysis that can ever really tell what might happen with your team in this new NHL.

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