If indeed Mr. Sundin is in town this weekend to meet with Bob Gainey, I believe it's time for Gainey to just say no to Mats. Say no to the paralysis this guy is inflicting on your summer plans. Say no to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, Sundin will want to join the team in December. Say no to the continuation of this ridiculously epic saga.
Gainey needs to tell Sundin this weekend that his offer has a deadline of, say, Wednesday, and after that the Canadiens will move on to other matters. Maybe that's exactly what Sundin needs, a firm ultimatum, before making a decision. But most importantly, training camp is only two weeks away and Gainey needs to fill out his roster with the impact player he can afford to add with the cap space he's kept on layaway for Sundin.
If Sundin's indecision wasn't enough to drive at least six GM's crazy (it's actually far more than that), his agent J.P. Barry added more intrigue to the drama Friday when he let it slip out on Toronto radio that his client was deciding between "Toronto and another team." He then promptly denied what he said to the Vancouver Sun, saying, "He hasn't narrowed it down at all. He's still trying to decide whether or not he's going to play and he won't comment to me, or anybody else, about teams until he does that. I mean, if he has narrowed it down to two, that would be big news. At this stage, I would practically put out a press release if he's narrowed it down to two teams."
OK, then why exactly did Barry say it was between Toronto and another team, on live radio no less?
Regardless, even if Montreal is "another team," Gainey needs to move on, with or without Sundin. I have no problem with Sundin taking his time to make his decision, but I would have a problem with a team gambling its potential for success this season on the whims of a man who isn't even sure whether he feels like playing. Sundin can take all the time he needs to decide, but that doesn't mean Gainey can wait because, unlike Sundin, he has a bit of a firm deadline.
While it's not unheard of for big time trades to happen in October and November, they have become extremely rare since the advent of the cap. Last year, for instance, there were five trades in October and November, and the biggest name changing hands was Brian Sutherby.
The year before, there were 10 trades in those two months, but they were all relatively minor deals, with the biggest one being either Brad Isbister going to the Rangers, or maybe it was Mikael Tellqvist getting shipped off to Phoenix for Tyson Nash.
The year prior to the lockout, some of that players that changed hands in Ocotober and November included Steve Konowalchuk, Miikka Kiprusoff and Martin Straka, while Mike Comrie was shipped out of Edmonton in mid-December.
Anyhow, the point is that teams now are far more willing to make a major move before the end of training camp, and that is especially true of the teams Gainey has probably been speaking with because they need to get under the salary cap very soon.
Which brings us to Gainey's next move. While I still maintain that Robert Lang would be a good fit for the Canadiens, the name of Mathieu Schneider is being floated out there more and more often, the latest being Pierre McGuire on the Team 990 the other day.
The addition of Schneider would take care of filling Mark Streit's spot on the power play, and he would give the Canadiens the best top-four defence in the conference by a fair margin.
But what exactly would it take to pry Schneider from the Ducks? Would a decent prospect and a pick cut it? Or would Brian Burke demand an A-list prospect like Ryan McDonagh or Max Pacioretty? In any case, Gainey doesn't need to add Schneider, while Burke is in a position where he basically has to unload him if he wants Teemu Selanne to play in Anaheim this season. So Gainey would be dealing from a position of strength, and from that position could offer up a middle-tier prospect like Matt D'Agostini and a second or third round draft pick for Schneider. That deal's a bit of a no-brainer, but giving up anything more should give Gainey pause for thought.