I am. I always liked the guy. But let’s face facts – he didn’t add much to the Habs equation over the past season.
The Gazette and La Presse are both reporting Thursday morning that Darche has worn the fabled CH jersey for the last time. Both papers report that the Habs offered him a two-way contract – one salary if he plays in the Big Leagues and another one if he is sent down to play alongside Scott ‘Loopy Grin’ Gomez with the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Darche has spent a good chunk of his career on two-way contracts and clearly he feels like – been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
Rockeur-turned-hockey-scribe Richard Labbé managed to reach Darche on the phone Wednesday and here’s some of what Darche told the La Presse columnist (my translation).
“I’m disappointed,” Darche told Labbé. “I was seeing that the Canadiens were making changes but I didn’t think I would be part of those changes. I wanted to take part in the renaissance of the club.”
He went on to say: “I’ve had enough of these two-way contracts. It proves to me that management is not really into keeping me. I just wasn’t ready to say ‘yes’ to that. I’d rather try my luck on the free agents market.”
Labbe reports that the Habs offered Darche less money than he got last season, when he was toiling on the third or fourth line for $700,000. (Eds note: How does a fellow scrape by with a minimum-wage salary like that? Just asking.)
This time last year, the brain-trust at Top Shelf was mighty happy when the Habs re-signed Darche but then he was coming off a strong season, with 12 goals and 14 assists. This year, he had just 5 goals and 7 assists. He did miss the last 21 games of the season with a concussion but even when he was healthy, he never looked particularly effective.
A year ago, I wrote that ‘Darche doesn’t have enormous skill, but he’s all heart and grit, something in short supply on the bleu-blanc-et-rouge.’ But that was then, this was now. Nos Boys still need a lot more heart and grit but they’re going to have to get it elsewhere.
The other skill Darche has that’s in short supply on the team is a proficiency in the language of Lafleur. With his departure, the team spokesman in the French media officially becomes Wee David Desharnais. But I’m sure M. Bergevin is gonna doing something about that lack of parley-vous on the ice in the coming days.