Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The inmates are running the Habs

It would appear that the fortunes of your Montreal Canadiens over the next decade rest in the hands of what has to be the most dysfunctional management team the league has seen in years.

And in the NHL, that's saying a lot.

Tampa Bay Lightning co-owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie met with commissioner Gary Bettman earlier today in New York to settle their differences on how the team is run. It would appear Koules wants to stop the financial bleeding and cap the team's payroll at about $40 million, while Barrie wants to spend closer to the cap in the hopes of building a contender around Vincent Lecavalier.

Bettman seemingly did nothing to resolve the dispute, depending on whose sources you believe. St. Pete Times beat writer Damian Cristodero reports that maintaining the status quo means that both Koules and Barrie will have to approve any player moves, which greatly reduces the chances of Lecavalier being shipped out.

However, Tampa Tribune beat guy Eric Erlendsson says that the status quo means Koules gets the final say on hockey decisions.

Then there's Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, who reports that his sources are telling him it is GM Brian Lawton who will be in charge of hockey matters. He also suggests that Lawton is kind of in the Koules camp when it comes to the general conflict with Barrie, but Lawton has repeatedly said he will not trade Lecavalier, which puts him in Barrie's camp on that issue.

Waiting patiently on the sidelines, meanwhile, for this ridiculous situation to play out is Bob Gainey, and one has to wonder when his patience will expire. Clearly, Gainey would be interested in acquiring Lecavalier, for the simple reason he's already admitted that not only was he interested back in December, he even reached the point where specific players were being discussed.

That kind of interest doesn't just go away.

But Gainey also made it clear that dealing with Lawton is not exactly his cup of tea, and with Lawton either working on his own or getting his direction from Tweedledum and Tweedledee, that working relationship isn't likely to improve anytime soon.

The only conceivable reason I can see for Gainey being this patient with this situation is that he must believe there's a robbery to be had here, especially if that now mythic offer of Christopher Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban was anywhere close to being enough to grab Lecavalier.

If Gainey didn't think he could pull off a Joe Thorntonesque heist here, does anyone think he would have the patience to wait on these fools to get their own house in order? The question now is whether or not that patience will last to July 1.

In my eyes, if this deal is not done by Friday night, it's not going to get done.


kyleroussel said...

I hope the Lightning continue their streak of ineptitude because there's no way I think Lecavalier in a Habs uniform makes any sense. The contract, the players that would have to be given up, and the fact that he'd be run out of town in no more than 5 years all point to this being pure stupidity for the Habs.

Bob - don't do it!

Sliver24 said...

I can't agree with your last comment Arp. In fact I'm inclined to think the advantage goes to the Canadiens if July 1st comes around with no deal (assuming, of course, that Tamps has decided to trade Vinny at all).

That deadline doesn't mean Lecevalier can't be traded, only that he would have to approve any trade the Lightning can manage to arrange.

I don't see Vinny approving a deal to Edmonton and while LA likely appeals to his beach boy side, he's maybe (finally!) had his fill of playing in an irrelevant market.

I'm thinking that Vinny got a taste of what life could be like for him as a Hab at the All Star game last February and that he liked what he saw.

I'm thinking the idea has grown on him a little, at least enough that if an opportunity cam along for him to play in Montreal he'd take it out of fear that he'd regret not doing so for the rest of his life.

Arpon Basu said...

By July 1 I'm not referring to his no-trade clause, because I too feel he would love nothing more than to get out of the nuthouse in Tampa while the gettin's good. It's just that Gainey needs to address some of his own free agency issues between the draft and July 1, and if he wants to make a trade with anyone it has to get done this weekend so he knows how much money he has to go around. If the Lightning can't get their ducks in a row in time, Gainey may be forced to go hunting elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Vinny has said he has no desire to leave, sorry fellas. Just because snooty elitists like you think Tampa is "irrelevant" doesn't mean he agrees.

Sliver24 said...

I see Vinny has better sense than you do Anonymous.

Apparently it never occurred to you that a player would say the right thing instead of exactly what he thinks in order to avoid pissing off a fanbase that he may have to play in front of for the rest of his career.

Vinny also realizes that, even if he does leave Tampa, there's no sense in leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. There's no reason he can't leave town with a solid legacy so that fans will continue to regard him as an all-time great Lightning player.

Apparently you subscribe to the more narcissistic Eric Lindros/Patrick Roy "I'm the only important person in the world" school of thought.

Try following baseball or basketball. You may find more players that you can relate to.

Arpon Basu said...

It's not that Lecavalier finds Tampa irrelevant, far from it. He has firm roots planted in the community, his foundation donated $3 million to build a new wing at the children's hospital there (which will be named after him), his sister lives there full-time and his parents come down every winter. It's just that with a management situation like the one in place now, who would want to stay there? When Lecavalier signed this 11-year deal, the ownership was brand new and he figured he wanted to retire in Tampa. Now that he sees what a gong show it is over there, it's likely he's having second thoughts. In any case, until July 1, Lecavalier has no right of refusal on any trade.

pfhabs said...

as great as Vinny could be getting him is a marketing plan to placate certain fans and segments of the media...without Koivu, Komisarek we have no #2 centre, no #2 dman and a goalie that needs to prove again his great potential...is Tanguay coming back are we left with a inconsistent supernova in Kovy, Lang and his achilles heel is done

Pointe Finale: Canadiens not ready to win the Cup with Vinny in 09-10

as for the BIG SLASH I'd sooner Bob get Duschene, Kane or Schenn in the draft on friday