Today comes the news that Andrei Kostitsyn signs a one-year contract with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the KHL.
Perhaps he's the first of many to sign come tomorrow, but his signing represents a little disappointment for the Habs organization.
Andrei, after all, was a player heavily invested in -- in both time and money. While he never quite cleared the all-important 30-goal hurdle, they had clearly found an NHL quality shooter with the ability to put up 20-25 markers a year when they selected him in the infamous 2003 draft.
But last season, with the team in the doldrums, that just wasn't enough. A sometimes delusional GM shipped him off for a wave goodbye to replace him with the "BIG" Rene Bourque. Now we read reports of how the team will probably be OK if Rene Bourque can just get back to his 27 goal form from Calgary. My goodness, the symmetry of the hypocrisy is charming here.
Andrei Kostitsyn by my eye has a far better chance at getting to Rene Bourque's mystical 27-goal form than the man in the recovery room. I don't feel I'm doing an injustice to the new guy after only watching him for 40 games -- he was often worse than his pathetic statistics said he was. Furthermore, we don't have to factor in the loss of Jarome Iginla into predictions for the former Hab, merely the loss of Mathieu Darche.
The Habs, of course, could have signed Andrei back -- especially after they heard that fitness king Bourque tore muscles doing abs (or something). But they did not.
And why not?
Well, perhaps the lockout is one reason, but that didn't stop them signing the second coming of Georges Laraque for four seasons. I think it's another case of the organization determined to turn a page. "we've tried Andrei" they say, "now we must move on."
This attitude in one form or another has hurt the team deeply over the years. Whether it be the variant where those who party must be banished (even in their prime) like Chelios, Corson, Ribeiro and others. The one where a word mis-spoken can never be taken back (ask Cammalleri, Roy). Or the version where you end up with Scott Gomez instead of Saku Koivu. You can call it throwing out the baby with the bath water
The management comes out of the worst positional finish in living memory determined to make a change, but is their stubborn determination getting in the way of good sense?
In reality this contract signing today means nothing for the Habs. They stare down the chasm of non-season knowing that they are a bad team, barely improved (if at all) and that no one signing from September leftovers would alter the course. Whether the season is lost to lawyers bickering or squandered leads remains to be seen. I just hope that when the seasons where winning is on the wind again that the new management team can think about retaining some of the useful babies in their sullied bath water.
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