Thursday, July 2, 2009

Komisarek's no traitor

I guess I understand why Habs fans are all over Mike Komisaerk for signing with the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, especially when the disparity between the two offers was so slim.

It's very easy to call him a traitor, with the way the team cultivated him, the way Bob Gainey fired a pretty darn good head coach in Claude Julien essentially to get him more ice time, the way team owner George Gillett and the entire organization was behind him when his mother passed away, the way this city embraced him as one of their own.

Yes, you could think of Komisarek as a traitor, that's your right. I prefer to think of him as a loser.

Not a loser in the normal sense of the word, as in a guy who always loses. No, Komisarek is not that, and he's not a loser in the high school sense of the word either because I've always found him to be a very likable guy, and that opinion of him won't change any time soon.

But, to me, for Komisarek to go to Toronto for the next five years he has to be a guy who has zero interest in actually having a chance to win, perhaps for the entire length of his contract.

Stranger things have happened, but the Leafs don't look like a team that is anywhere near ready to make the jump to mediocrity, which is where the Habs are right now.

Luke Schenn is a very nice building block, I've always been a fan of Tomas Kaberle's game, and this Nazem Kadri kid they drafted looks like he could be pretty good. But otherwise, what do the Leafs have going for them? Nik Hagman? Mikhail Grabovski (who signed today for three years at $2.9 million per. I don't even need to make a joke for that to be funny)?

They don't have a whole lot, and everyone looking to Brian Burke to work some sort of miracle in Toronto better not hold their breath, because nothing in his recent professional history has shown he's capable of that. In Vancouver, he was pretty crafty in drafting the Sedins together, but he was never able to build a winner off that. In Anaheim, he inherited a pretty good team from Bryan Murray and then had Chris Pronger fall in his lap, practically giving him a Cup.

Burke's a good GM, don't get me wrong, but there are limits to what a GM can do in a certain window of time. I would have to believe that if Burke hits home runs with every single move he makes (and I would suggest he's already missed that boat with the Grabovski signing), it will take at least another three seasons for the Leafs to be a true contender. But it will most likely be four or five, because even the greatest GMs make mistakes every now and then.

The one thing that disappointed me abut Komisarek was Gainey's claim that there was never a counter-offer made to the Canadiens reported proposal of a five-year, $20 million deal, which works out to only $500K less than what the Leafs offered. That's a bridge that could have been gapped, you would think, if there was a real interest from both parties to get it done.

Today, speaking on TSN's Off the Record, Komisarek said he did go back to the Habs with a counter-offer, but later he said "not all marriages work out." (He also closed the interview by saying, "Mr. Landsberg, any time for you buddy." Doesn't it make you want to puke?) That sounds to me like a guy whose mind was made up as soon as the Habs were eliminated from the playoffs and he began referring to his time here in the past tense, totally ducking every question about where he would play next year.

The way I see it, Komisarek simply wanted out of Montreal, though I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe he saw the direction Gainey was going with another small, speedy team and didn't want the burden of having to handle the Milan Lucic's of the world alone. Maybe he was sick of living in a French city. Maybe he needed a city with new women to hit on. Who knows?

But to paint Komisarek as a traitor would be wrong because while he was here, he gave everything he had and more. He's a player of limited talent, but who's oozing will. He sincerely wore that Canadiens jersey with pride, and even though he didn't want to come back, I don't think that should overshadow what he did while he was here.

But that's just me. I would understand perfectly if no one out there agrees.

I think none of you would disagree, though, that this is a sad end to Saku Koivu's time in Montreal. In terms of years (not seasons), he's the longest-serving captain in Canadiens history, and even though those 10 years were the darkest period of that history, he will be missed.

Koivu was not a fantastic quote, he was not the warmest athlete when it came to dealing with reporters, but he was always there to answer for his team. He took that side of his role as captain quite seriously.

Everyone knows all the tremendous things he's done for the Montreal community, and all the baseless, vindictive attacks he had to endure despite all his charity.

But really, I will miss Saku Koivu because he was a competitor, he played his best in the biggest games, he inspired his teammates by taking on bigger, stronger men and coming out with the puck, he knew when to push the right buttons with the right players to try and coax a little more out of them. Basically, even though he never won anything while he was here, I've always considered Koivu a winner.

For him to leave the franchise without so much as an offer to come back, even if it were for a pay cut, I feel is sad.

But I'm also happy for him, because he will finally get to see what it's like to play for a team where you're not expected to contribute beyond your means, you're not expected to represent a population that views you as a foreigner, you're not expected to be the public face of the team.

And though I agree that Koivu has seen his best days, I feel he will have an enormous year wherever he signs. In any case, I'll be wishing he does.


Arjun said...

I think it was a weird decision on his part. I wonder how much of it had to do with the Olympics. Though that's probably stupid. I just think after last year, he wanted to leave. It was too much. The pressure in Toronto is different. It's not a pressure to win. It's just a pressure to put up with the media. But there's no pressure to win. So in that sense, you might be right. He's a loser. And I also don't know how good he is without Markov. His partner made him look very, very good. they were a good pairing. But without Markov, Komi looked lost last year. Of course, the whole team did.

Sliver24 said...

Although you're 100% wrong about Komisarek not being a traitor here's hoping you're right about the Leafs suffer another three to five losing seasons.

There are 27 teams in the NHL that Komisarek could have signed with that would have been cool with me (Boston being the other exception).

The fact that he signed with Toronto makes me realize that he never truly bled Bleu, Blanc, Rouge the way players did in the old days and fans wish they still did today.

The fact that it was Komisarek that sold out the way he did really drives the point home since he'd be one of the guys you'd think would have felt more hatred for the team's traditional rivals.

It must be pretty tough to drum up game-time intensity when you're seeing your fiercest rivals as possible landing spots in the off season. Komisarek's deficient play this year pretty much proves that point.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you suggested that Komisarek "didn't want the burden of having to handle the Milan Lucic's of the world alone." The fact that he had to - a requirement that would have continued into this season had he signed here - makes me almost as sad as seeing him go.

I completely understand why he left. The wheels fell off last season and he needed to get out from under the bad situation he was in. But he could have signed in Anaheim or Vancouver or an of the three New York area teams and I would have understood.

Instead he went to the Leafs for a pittance more than Gainey offered him. He didn't even have enough respect for Habs fans to allow Bob to come back with a counter-offer to to match or beat the deal.

That makes him a traitor in my books.

Now if Bob could only find a way to pry Lucic away from the Bruins...

Topham said...

Komisarek probably doesn't see it the same way. In fact, I'm sure Brian Burke made lots of noise about how the Leafs will do this, that and the other and win, of course.

Komi probably just bought the gusto, the hot air. Fitting really, because latterly I was finding both he and Higgins could do a lot less talking and perhaps take a little more care to hone their games. Fitting because he seems to like hot air more than anything.

Logistically, I wouldn't be surprised if Gainey took his offer off the table after he acquired Spacek. After all, that's where Kovalev netted out too. It's clear that Gainey wasn't going to be the bridesmaid on July 1, no matter how ugly the groom he had to marry would be.

Anonymous said...

Arpon, I agree with you completely about Komisarek. Gave his best with us and he has the right to go where ever he wants.

I am also sad about Koivu and still hold out a faint hope (deluded I know) that he will be back. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes with teams that we fans don't get to see and there must have been something about his role/leadership in the locker room that Gainey feels he does not want anymore... because his play on the ice warranted a return for a year or two.

Obviously Gainey wants to go in a new direction and having Koivu aboard would hinder that. That I respect.

pfhabs said...


-thxs for the piece

-Komisarek is a warrior who bled for his teammates. to diminish his contributions in that regard is to understand nothing more than a petulant 12 year old. we need 23 Komisareks

-he went to the Leafs because in his view it offered the best deal for him and his family. alledegly $2.5 million more to start plus a whole bunch of intangibles about which people can only speculate WITHOUT any knowledge of the facts

-to suggest he could have chosen Anaheim to make some fans happy is nonsense. if Bob really wanted him back why didn't Bob call him to follow up on the original offer whatever it was ? hell you thought so much of him you put him behind the bench for a few games...what's one phone call to see where your offer stands ?

-if it makes Canadiens fans feel good about themselves, the team and Gainey go right ahead and disparge Komisarek. by about Christmas you'll wish he was still in Montreal. for my part I sent him an e-mail wishing him a long and lucrative career (same with Higgins)and hoped that he'd give a little extra when he smokes one of the new acquisitions in the next Canadiens-Leafs encounter :)

-as for Saku; his treatment is but another example of the Gainey maddness and stupidity. such a disgraceful treatment for someone who endured more in your town than Beliveau, the Richards and all the Captains combined and he still held his head high, produced points, worked hard every shift and played with shitty teams without complaint

-wait a go Bob can't wait for Molson to turf your sorry ass you putz

-as for the experiment of the past few days it better work because we have it for the next 5-6 years even after BG will be long gone

SRS said...

Gainey is not done. He built that line in order to flip it to Tampa for Vinny and a few others... hopefully Marty. They weren't getting rid of Vinny without getting something in return. Higgins and Pleks? Please! Can't market a team around that. This is now a lot more attractive and manageable in terms of cap. Master tactician that Bob. Can't wait!

pfhabs said...

-just announced on Team 990 that Gainey's offer to Komisarek was $4 for 5 years and Kaetor told Gainey that the Leafs were giving $4.5 but they would take $4.0 for 8 years, 3 more than original 5. Gainey said no

-but Gainey gave Spacek who's already 35 yrs old $3.83 for another 3 years, he will be 38 by the end of that contract

-at end of the Komisarek proposal he'd be only 35 and getting what Spacek was given

-Gainey is a moron and SRS you are dreaming Vinny has a no movement and he will not come to the BS in Montreal and would have no supporting cast to play his wingers please ?

-until Gainey is gone this team will go no where and all those of you with Gainey love need to separate the warrior captain from the board room flop

AC said...

guys, guys, all need to take a little holiday and recharge the batteries! chill out a little.
how about this for an idea? let's wait until the season starts and the team has played some games and then we can start discussing how good or bad a job Gainey has done...for some of you (yes, i am looking at you PF) to get so worked up over this on july 3rd is beyond me - talk about armchair GMs. If somebody had asked me about Gainey striking out on Briere a couple of years ago, i would have complained too but looks like that worked out pretty well for us, no?
It's also very easy to criticize decisions from the outside without any idea of the inner workings of the club not only at the boardroom level but at the locker room level as well.
Aren't we all Habs fans first? let's just support the bloody team we have and end it there...
PS. love the blog Arpon!

pfhabs said...


-cool & heartless at this end

1. upfront; guys added are younger, more or as skilled, smaller and more expensive...its a wait and see for first 20-25 games

2. backend; guys added are older, slower with less pop/jam (add the adjective you like)than Komisarek who would have cost same as Spacek...add Markov, Hamrlik, Georges, O'Bryne and still no pop unless Ryan comes out of his shell but didn't do that at Cornell. so what's to wait and see ? I assume you have seen/attended enough games to sus that out yourself

-if you remember how many liberties were taken with goalies last year what makes you feel it will be different this year ?

-you and I could have said no to Briere at $10 special genius or talent needed there plus he didn't want to come. Gainey was rejected he didn't make that decision.

-I've supported the team for 50+ years and do not need a lecture on how to be a fan of the team. I do not support Bob the GM, Bob the captain was stellar.

-look over the deals and wasted picks given up, the UFAs out the door with no compensation over the last 5-6 years...that's not asset management to compete with the big boys .

-as for Koivu I hope Geoff Molson does the right thing

-draw your own conclusions on Bob I have.

-no need to agree w my opinion I will live