My Daybreak pal Shawn Apel tweeted me just minutes into Sunday morning’s Marc Bergevin press conference to ask – Happy now? He asked this shortly after Bergevin announced that the Montreal Canadiens had told Scott Gomez to go home and that they would be buying him out next season. It’s impossible for me not to mention that that’s just exactly what I suggested in this very space on Friday.
And I understand where Shawn’s question was coming from. I have been raging against the pathetic play of Gomez with the Habs for a couple of seasons now.
But I’m not celebrating this morning. I just feel bad for a guy whose career is grinding to a halt in such brutal fashion. Gomez was once a very good player. I remember Hockey Night in Canada running a highlight reel a couple of years back during a Habs playoff series and I was dumbfounded watching clips of him in a Devils jersey, scoring, crashing the net, playing with remarkable intensity.
But he never played like that with Montreal. He was kind of alright that first season – 12 goals, 47 assists – but then it went south fast. The next season he had seven goals and 38 points – and a minus-15 plus/minus – and last year was even more brutal, two goals and nine assists in 38 games. If he’d been costing the team a million or two, it would’ve been no biggie. But he comes with a $7.4 million cap hit – thanks Glen Sather! – and you just can’t pay that kind of money for that kind of production.
So he had to go. The fact the previous managers didn’t have the balls to make that move is just the latest evidence of how ill-equipped they were to run a major-league sports franchise. Gomez has been a distraction for two years and it has hurt the Habs.
But right now I don’t feel any joy. The Habs had to do this and hats off to Bergevin and Geoff Molson for having the cojones to step up to the plate and take a real, tough decision. But this is gotta be terrible for Gomez, even if he’s still gonna pull in $5.5 million while sitting at home in Alaska twiddling his thumbs.
The other thing that has me seeing red this morning is that – as my Twitter pal Rich Thorpe pointed out – the incompetent managers that orchestrated this deal are now sitting in executive suites with other teams poised and ready to work their magic elsewhere. I have a good friend who’s maybe Montreal’s biggest Chicago Blackhawks fan and just imagine how she feels about the idea that Pierre ‘Chuckles’ Gauthier is in charge of player development for the Hawks.
That’s the worst part of this story. Most of us knew from day-one that this Gomez deal smelled like a full dumpster behind a fish restaurant on a steamy day in July in Montreal. It was a panic move on Gainey’s part, just the perfect example of the paranoid, thoughtless management style of the Gainey/Gauthier era. It’s a legacy the team will be paying for for at least a couple of years to come.
But at least Habs fans this morning have the first clear sign that there’s a new sheriff in town.