No veteran essential |  The Journal of Quebec

No veteran essential | The Journal of Quebec

The Canadiens are currently putting a lot of emphasis on young people, with good reason. At the moment, no experienced attacker is essential. It is clear that we must build this team around Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, hoping now to draft the right players to surround them.

First-round draft picks provide stability in an organization. When one player leaves, another must arrive. There are additions over the years with trades and free agents, but the best on your team have to be draft picks.

When you look at the situation in Montreal, the first-round draft picks that deliver the goods, it pretty much comes down to Caufield.

The organization will be among the first to speak in the repechage in July at the Bell Center and it’s simple, it no longer has room for error.

Have a free hand

As long as the management has its hands tied, it will be difficult to get the right players.

What that means is that new executives Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes really need to deal with veterans like Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry this summer. They are the three highest earners at the Canadiens.

Others like Joel Armia or Christian Dvorak can also leave. There should be no untouchables, except among young people.

In the case of Price, we are still awaiting his decision on whether he will play. He was given so much freedom over time and things could have been handled differently.

He was good for the team, but the Canadian rewarded him with a big contract. The new leaders are not related to him. It’s time they talk to him about their game plan by telling him things clearly.

Paid for the past

I was watching Gallagher having his little tantrum after the game against Ottawa. He wanted to show that he was the veteran who protects young people and that’s okay, but with the contract he signed, he will quickly become a drag.

He didn’t steal his contract for the services he rendered, but he slowed down. He always gives the impression of being exhausted. Martin St-Louis does not hide to say that he must change his way of playing, but I doubt that he can change at his age. He can’t play with creative guys like Suzuki and Caufield anymore.

When these issues are settled, the new management will be able to work more freely. We are going to restore a real salary scale at the Canadiens. Suzuki, who will become the next captain, will be the best paid and after him it will go down. Several players have been paid for what they have done, rather than what they are going to do.

Unhappy people?

Currently, much importance is attached to the relationship between St-Louis, Suzuki and Caufield. I wonder if that doesn’t bother some veterans.

When I was leading the Nordiques and I decided that Dale Hunter would play in place of Robbie Ftorek, there was discomfort in the locker room with the veterans. There is reason to wonder if the Canadiens are not experiencing the same situation.

The team is well run and no longer needs the current veterans to pat the youngsters on the back. What it takes is real good hockey players.

Some young people show great qualities, but they will have to be developed and surrounded. The Canadian will not be able to miss the playoffs for long. It’s not a market like New Jersey, where nobody minds.

The Atlantic Division has become perhaps the best in the league with the Panthers, Lightning, Leafs and Bruins. Even in Ottawa, the team is progressing and there are no more veterans dragging lunches. The Sabers have shown lately that they can be a good team.

The Canadian has his work cut out for him!

Interview by Stéphane Cadorette

Echoes of Bergie

Hats off to Matthews

Thursday night, Auston Matthews broke a team record by scoring their 55and and 56and goals of the season. Rick Vaive had owned the brand in Toronto since 1981-82 and that doesn’t make me any younger, I coached against him when he played in Sherbrooke in the junior! Speaking of Matthews and the Leafs, I wish, just like Connor McDavid with the Oilers, that they finally win the playoffs because I can no longer hear that they are losers. Many have done it for a long time with Alex Ovechkin. It has nothing to do ! Ovechkin is no loser and neither is Matthews. We finally seem to have the elements in Toronto and Edmonton. I’m tired of people picking on talented players like them. We cannot associate McDavid or Matthews with the word loser. They are great players.

Exceptional defender

Roman Josi of the Predators will win the Norris Trophy, given to the best defenseman. He also just broke a franchise record with 87 points. He also deserves the title of most valuable player, but the fight will be close with Jonathan Huberdeau, McDavid and Matthews. Every team that wins the Cup relies on an extraordinary defenseman, whether it’s Hedman in Tampa, Doughty in Los Angeles, Bourque in Colorado, Potvin with the Islanders or the Canadiens in the era of the “Big Three”. The CH must find this kind of defender. Will it be Barron, Harris, Romanov or Guhle? We haven’t seen them play enough to say. It’s impossible to win everything without a defender taking control of a game.

Huberdeau and Joseph

I’m really impressed with Huberdeau in Florida. He’s the best teammate there is. By Jagr’s senior year in Florida, he was at his wit’s end. He was playing with Huberdeau and Jonathan never complained. Today, he is rewarded. He lived through years of misery with the Panthers, but he is now respected throughout the league. What about Mathieu Joseph? What an acquisition for the Senators! He skates, he controls the puck… He is extraordinary and has good hockey sense. He finally has a lot of ice time and he comes just in time for the “Sens”.

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