Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sergei quarantined

I don't know if anyone is that surprised that Sergei Kostitsyn was sent down to the minors, what did catch me a bit off guard was the timing of it.

Jacques Martin came to Montreal with a reputation for a lot of things, and one of them was a strict disciplinarian, which is really what someone like Kostitsyn needed. Instead of taking that as a challenge to prove he was mentally ready to be an NHL regular, he blew it.

Missing the bus to Quebec City for an exhibition game was bad enough, but blaming it on construction around the Quartier Dix 30 near the team's training facility in Brossard was simply a horrendous excuse. And if I didn't buy it, God knows Martin didn't.

The media made a big stink about Kostitsyn getting reamed out by Martin (myself included, as you can see in my game story here), but I'm pretty sure Martin's mind was made up on this guy by that point, which is why he made for a pretty convenient target for Martin to show the rest of the team what he expects from them in practice.

But sending Kostitsyn to the minors today rather than wait until the end of training camp tells me Martin didn't want to have a bad seed infecting the rest of squad while he did his little "team-building" session at Teen Ranch in Caledon, Ont. Most notably, I would have to believe that Martin wanted to keep Kostitsyn away from his older brother, which may give Martin a better chance in getting through to the elder Kostitsyn to explain to him just how a player of his talent should approach his work in the NHL.

In essence, Andrei needs to approach his job the exact opposite of the way Sergei approaches it.

Based on their personalities, it's pretty clear to me that Andrei follows Sergei a little bit, even though it's his little brother. Sergei has lived in Canada longer than Andrei, thanks to his playing junior hockey in London, Ont., and his adjustment to this culture has made for a bit of a role reversal between the two. I'm saying that as if I know it to be true, but I don't. It's just a feeling I get.

And I think the Canadiens organization gets that very same feeling, which is why it may be a good idea to get Sergei away from his brother, at least for a little while.

I mean, does anyone truly believe Ben Maxwell is making this team? Or Mathieu Carle? Or Tom Pyatt (despite being very impressive in camp)? No, everyone knows these guys will be in Hamilton pretty soon and they are only trying to impress the coaches for an eventual call-up. Yet those players are still in camp, but Sergei isn't. Why would that be other than what I just mentioned?

Besides the timing of it, I think the Habs want to see how Sergei responds to this demotion. Does he work extra hard to make it back to the NHL, or does he pout in his corner of the bus on its way to Binghamton? The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining Sergei's future in the organization.

With Sergei officially out of the equation, it leaves Gregory Stewart, Matt D'Agostini, and Yannick Weber ostensibly battling for two spots, with Weber's future hinging on whether or not Martin wants to keep eight defencemen or not, and Stewart's hinging on Laraque's wonky groin. If indeed Martin is being honest and everyone will be healthy enough to start the season, I'd have to believe Stewart will be in Hamilton and Weber will play the same roving role he played last year.


Sliver24 said...

If I remember correctly Sergei's ascension to the NHL ranks was widely credited with being the catalyst for Andrei great success on the Plek & Kovy show two seasons ago.

Now apparently Sergei is the reason for Andrei's lack of heart and the primary reason for his inability to produce.

Regardless of how I feel about Sergei (not a fan at this point but I did like him as a rookie) I don't think it's fair to blame him for his brother's woes.

Frankly, if Andrei is actually this affected by the presence and attitude of his younger (!) brother, it seems to me that Andrei has the bigger problem and that he's the one that needs to go.

From where I sit it looks like the exact type of weak-minded, melodramatic, prima donna garbage that Bob Gainey was trying to eradicate when he blew up the team this past summer. Gone are the guys with baggage, replaced by proven NHLers that are, by all informed accounts, low-maintenance team-players.

Maybe the brothers Kostitsyn will be the next casualties of Bob's "Back to the (down-to-)Earth" movement. Some, like me, might even say hopefully.

I don't think it's time to send him packing just yet but I do think the next month or two will be as much of a test for Andrei as it will for his little bro.

Andy J Smith illustration said...

What do you get for Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn? and a 2nd rounder? Nathan Horton? and a 4th rounder?

Arjun said...

I don't think you get Nathan Horton. But both the brothers probably could get packaged for something interesting. Let's see what this team needs... and how the brothers react. Frankly, I haven't liked a brother act since the Mahovlich boys.

Sliver24 said...

I hadn't thought that far ahead but here's something that comes quickly to mind:

I'd try to get Cheechoo for Andrei. They have similar salaries and Ottawa wasn't really that keen on taking him from San Jose in the first place.

Add that to the fact that Kovy would probably give Andrei the old vote of confidence in Ottawa and you may just have a match made in heaven.

In my opinion Cheechoo would fit better into the new (i.e. more North American) chemistry experiment than Andrei. He's still young (29), alsmost as big as Andrei ( 6', 200lbs) and he's more willing to go to the rough spots on the ice than Andrei ever will be.

He's also only two seasons removed from a 56-goal performance.

I think Cheechoo would look pretty good on the wing with Gomez and Cammalleri. He's even a right-handed shot, which is a plus for the Habs as well.

Top it all off with one of the best last names in the NHL and I say pull the trigger!

As for Sergei, let him rot in the minors for awhile. He could still turn into a good NHL player once he's had his attitude appropriately adjusted.

Arpon Basu said...

I heard Marinaro mention this possibility on the radio a little while back and it actually made some sense: Patrick Sharp in Chicago. With Kane having played with Sergei in London, he would probably give the Hawks the thumbs up to grab him.

Sliver24 said...

Sharp makes $750,000 more than Cheechoo and $1 million more than Andrei. On top of that he has an extra year on his deal (compared to Andrei and Cheechoo).

I would guess (hope?) that Gainey isn't going to be too keen on making any additional long-term commitments, especially at $4 million per year.

That extra year on Sharp's contract is the year Bob is going to have to sign Markov, Gorges, O'Byrne, Pacioretty and Maxwell, among others. He's going to need every penny he can scrounge to try to keep those guys around.

Arpon Basu said...

Honestly, I wouldn't touch Cheechoo with a 10-foot pole. He was a salary equalizer thrown into the deal for Heatley, and Murray had to begrudgingly take him. He could find his game again in Ottawa, but I doubt it, and giving up on Andrei Kostitsyn to take a chance like that just makes no sense to me.

Sliver24 said...

You may be right. I agree that there is a risk, but to me one thing is clear; The Habs would be better served by a Cheechoo that scores 25 goals and 50 points and acts like a team player than they would by a Kostitsyn that scores 35 goals and 60 points but is a constant distraction.

pfhabs said...


-Cheechoo is 3-4 years removed from 50 goals...enough time to surmise that he has or is a problem

-he could not score with either Thornton nor Marleau in the last 3 yrs doubt any Canadiens centre will make the miracle transformation work...not even the Alaskan

-if the CH shipped out every player that showed an attitude issue Roy, Chelios, Lafleur, Corson et al ad nauseum would have been gone in their 2nd or 3rd years

-relax, they are spoiled millionaires that need to be SHOWN how to be pros...they have the talent..Cheechoo doesn't !