While the "nice guy" label certainly applies to Steve Bégin, he actually didn't finish last today. He finished first, getting traded to a team in the Dallas Stars that will use and appreciate him.
No, the "nice guy" I'm referring to here is Bob Gainey, because he did Bégin a favour by trading him away for what amounts to nothing. Bégin needed to prove he could still play despite years of attacking his job with a complete and utter disregard for his own personal safety. A style that is needed on every team, but ultimately has an expiration date.
Guy Carbonneau evidently felt that date was past due. I hope it isn't, because Bégin has always been a pleasure to deal with, a guy who's sincerely happy to be an NHL player without an ounce of pretension on his often battered and bruised body. I wish him nothing but success in Dallas, and if he gets on the ice he should deliver what Dave Tippett expects of him.
It's very honourable of Gainey to have given Bégin this opportunity, because he clearly wasn't going to get it here, especially with Carbonneau making comparisons between Bégin and the end of his own playing career just the other day.
But even then, wouldn't it benefit the Habs to have Bégin around, just in case? What would happen if Maxim Lapierre gets a nasty injury in Philadelphia on Friday night? This trade would look pretty short-sighted, which it really is. I understand Bégin was getting frustrated with his lack of playing time and that he's a likeable guy who didn't want to rock the boat by complaining about his situation.
But just because he's nice doesn't mean his career should be a bigger priority than the depth of the team, should it?
Meanwhile, someone who didn't mind rocking the boat by complaining, Georges Laraque, appears to have gotten his wish and should be in the lineup Friday night. If I were Carbonneau, I would have left him in Montreal.
When Sergei Samsonov said a couple of years back that if he knew how little he'd play in Montreal he never would have signed here, Carbonneau essentially promised that Samsonov wouldn't play another game in a Canadiens sweater. Laraque does the exact same thing, and he gets thrown into the lineup? While Bégin gets traded?
What message does that send to the young guys on the team? That if you complain to the media you'll get your way. I really don't care what Carbonneau said about Laraque's comments today, about how they were poorly timed and showed disrespect to the team and his teammates. If Carbonneau really wanted to send a message to Laraque and the rest of the team, he would have left Laraque at home.
And Bégin would have been in the lineup in Philly.