By Karine Hains aka Pheebs888

Happier times...

If the Montreal Canadians made the headlines for the right reasons during their 2009-2010 playoffs run, they are now making them for all the wrong reasons. An abysmal start to the season, a truckload of injuries, a big money contract given to an ageing and hurting defenseman, a coach firing, in-team fighting and , the final straw, incendiary comments by the team’s top sniper (when things are going well) closely followed by an in-game trade. No no, this is not the scenario of a sporting soap opera but in fact the outline of the season Habs’ fans have had to live with this year. Currently standing in 12th position in the East, the once mighty Canadians look to be heading to plenty of golfing hours this spring and the fan base is in turmoil.

 

Last night, while this agonizing team was battling the current Stanley Cup champions, its General Manager, Pierre Gauthier, was working on a trade. In fact, he has told RDS that he had been trying to trade Cammalleri for over a month…That may be the case but to the fans, it looks like Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket out of town for speaking his mind.

 

On Wednesday, Cammalleri spoke to two journalists about the team’s attitude, his own performance and his ice-time. In Montreal, hockey is always front page news but when a player expressed unhappiness with his team, his teammates and his ice-time, it is even more so. On Thursday, Cammelleri attempted to do so damage control and he said that he was misquoted but by then, the media was already crucifying him, calling him a selfish player and probably encouraging the GM to make a trade as soon as possible. Even if Pierre Gauthier had been working on it for quite a while as he said, the timing does seem awfully suspicious.

 

After one period last night, Cammalleri had played 4 minutes…After two periods he was up to 9 minutes and that was all he was going to get for that night and forever in a Habs jersey… Between the second and third period, he was told that he had been traded and was put in a cab back to the hotel. While the trade wasn’t announced right away, the Habs faithful did notice that the once incredibly popular number 13 was nowhere to be seen in the final period. Speculation began to run wild both on social medias and in the game broadcast. Pierre Gauthier kept the fans guessing until the end of the game before announcing that the scoring hero of the 2009-2010 playoff run had been traded to Calgary, the team he played for prior to inking his deal with the Canadians, in return of Rene Bourque. It wasn’t a straight swap as the Habs also sent a prospect in Karri Ramo and received one in Patrick Holland as well as swapping 2012 and 2013 draft picks.

 

While most of the reporters in Quebec seem to welcome the deal and think that Cammalleri had become a distraction, the fan base is split. There are those who tend to agree with the media and those who cannot help but remember Cammy’s 13 goals in the Habs’ epic playoff run in 2009-2010 and feel like they have been betrayed by the General Manager. Of course, it is a well known fact that the Habs had and have too many small players; Cammalleri, Gionta, Gomez, Desharnais…the list goes on. No one is disputing the fact that the Canadians need to get bigger, but there are plenty of people who would have liked to see someone else rather than number 13 be shipped out of town. Scott Gomez being most people’s favorite candidate but the problem is, who would want to take him ridiculously expensive contract on? No one…that’s why he will remain in the Canadians line-up this year and probably be bought out this summer to clear some much needed cap space. As for Gionta, he has just undergone successful bicep surgery (let’s hope it’s not the same kind of successful surgery Markov keeps having) and it is possible that his season is over. Are the Habs done trading? Is the season a write-off? Gauthier says he has not given up on the season and he believes he has improved his team…time will tell if such is the case.

 

For now, Habs fans will have to wait until Sunday to see their new player in action. Bourque is currently serving a 5 game ban for yet another hit to the head. One thing is for sure, he will bring some size and toughness to the team. The Canadians cannot get rid of their “Smurfs” label yet but this is a step in the right direction towards achieving that result. Will Bourque be able to contribute enough offensively to replace Cammalleri on the team? It’s too early to tell, he’s not as skilled as the diminutive winger but his upside is that he can use his size to get in crowded place and shift his weight around in front of the net to create both goals and opportunities. Something the bleu, blanc, rouge will certainly be able to use in games against big teams such as Boston and Philadelphia…

 

For now, the world can stay tune to see what else the storied franchise has in store for us this year, only one thing is certain, it’s not a playoff run…Those days are gone and so are the days when the Montreal Canadians’ organization was a synonym of class.