Forgive me for pulling a Jerry Seinfeld for a moment, but what’s the deal with Pierre Gauthier?
The Montreal Canadiens GM has put together one of the most erratic and bizarre half-seasons one could expect from an executive in professional sports. He strangely fired an assistant coach when people were clamoring for the head of Jacques Martin, then eventually gave in to those demands anyway. That wasn’t enough, though, as he made a tone-deaf hiring of Randy Cunneyworth, which has been about as much of a disaster as possible.
A STRANGE WAY TO LEARN YOU'VE BEEN TRADED
Gauthier saved arguably his wackiest behavior for Thursday, however. It’s not just that he traded Michael Cammalleri during the same week that the sniper may or may not have called his teammates “losers.” That’s an understandable decision, but it’s the way it was handled that was truly bizarre. Cammalleri actually played through two periods of the Habs’ 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins before being sent to the locker room through the final frame.
Montreal then sent Cammalleri to the team hotel in a cab as the trade must have been completed in the time the game was happening. You know, either that or Gauthier wanted to “punish” him with such an unceremonious final night with the Canadiens. (Gauthier claims that Cammalleri's verbal tirade wasn't a big factor in the trade taking place ... but come on.)
It’s a strange way of treating a guy who scored 13 goals in 19 playoff games when the Habs stormed to the 2010 Eastern Conference finals, but then again, it fits the theme of zany behavior displayed by Gauthier, whose job security must be at an all-time low right now.
Naturally, Cammalleri has been disappointing in 2011-12, but the Calgary Flames must be pleased to make an upgrade. In case you haven’t seen the details, click here, but for fantasy purposes it really comes down to Cammalleri for Rene Bourque.
As you may remember, Cammy experienced the best season of his NHL career in his lone year (2008-09) in Calgary. He generated a career-high 82 regular season points in a campaign that helped him get the $6 million cap hit that his current deal carries.
Can he duplicate that pace this time around? That’s hard to say. Flames GM Jay Feaster noted that Cammalleri is expected to play on the second line, which obviously means that he wouldn’t skate alongside Jarome Iginla. Of course, Alex Tanguay is banged up at the moment so Cammalleri might get a little dress rehearsal on the same line as a guy who (literally) enriched his career before.
Either way, if Cammalleri is available as a free agent, he’s absolutely worth a look – even if Iggy isn’t his regular linemate. The sheer embarrassment of the way the Montreal situation played out and the often invigorating effects of being traded could light a fire under the sniper. He’s generally worth owning under normal circumstances, but this change should give him a boost and could very well help the Flames stagger into the 2012 playoffs. (Anyone hoping for a rebuild in Calgary might want to put that idea to bed.)
BOURQUE IN MONTREAL
As far as the Habs’ takeaway, it’s tough to look at it as anything but a downgrade. Bourque has been suspended twice this season, so you cannot help but wonder if they will get a player who’s overly cautious. He is carrying three consecutive 20+ goal seasons into 2011-12 and seems to be on pace to do it again, so it’s not like he’s a stiff. That being said, his 13 goals are accompanied by just three assists this season, so he’s not a no-brainer by any means. His 41 PIM in 38 games is promising, as long as those two stern reprimands won’t force him to be something of a wallflower going through the rest of this season.
Ultimately, the verdict is: if Cammalleri happens to be available as a free agent (which isn’t likely), absolutely scoop him up. I’d recommend keeping Bourque on your radar rather than adding him right now, on the other hand.
Tough news out of Washington: the Capitals placed Mike Green on the long-term injured reserve because of his groin injury. This means that the offensive defenseman won’t be available until Feb. 1 at the earliest, so he’ll miss a minimum of eight more games. I have to be honest; it’s getting tough to deny the notion that this might be a lost season for the often prolific blueliner.
Sadly, the Nicklas Backstrom situation doesn’t look particularly promising, either.
Alex Ovechkin made the 2012 All-Star roster to the chagrin of people who take a glorified exhibition game far too seriously … Teemu Selanne handed his All-Star nod to Corey Perry. It can’t be a bad thing for the veteran to get a little extra time off, although it would have been a cool send-off to see him play in one more ASG … Craig Anderson got his first shutout of the season against the New York Rangers. That’s impressive – and it might be time to say the same about the Ottawa Senators … Miikka Kiprusoff earned his third shutout of the season. He’s been better than expected, although many fans will point out that he’s paid to play at least this well … Devin Setoguchi scored his return from a discipline-related healthy scratch.
INJURY/ SUSPENSION SNIPES
Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Red Wings lineup while Todd Bertuzzi left it with a lower-body injury … Jonas Hiller actually played for the Anaheim Ducks last night … Brenden Morrow caught Anze Kopitar with a hit that knocked him out of the Dec. 12 Stars-Kings game. Dallas doesn’t expect Morrow to see league discipline for that hit, but that remains to be seen … Speaking of potential suspensions, P.K. Subban caught David Krejci with an elbow that will surely at least get Brendan Shanahan’s attention. It’s been a disappointing season for the sophomore defenseman, but at least his peripherals (51 PIM and 109 shots) have been strong … R.J. Umberger will be out indefinitely with a concussion suffered thanks to a questionable J.F. Jacques hit … Steve Staois might sit a while for a high hit on Maxime Talbot. (Yes, I kind of forgot Staois is still in the NHL, too) … Brian Gionta underwent what could be season-ending bicep surgery on Thursday … Brandon Dubinsky missed last night’s Rangers loss … Peter Mueller did indeed return from his concussion funk on Thursday … Erik Johnson came back from a hand injury. (Click here for the full injury list.)