Latendresse will blossom elsewhere

Yesterday, Montreal said good-bye that only a couple of years ago was going to be a building block of the team for many years to come.

Guillaume Latendresse was traded to the Wild yesterday.

Guillaume Latendresse was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Benoit Pouliot.

Latendresse was a guy with so much potential. Some of his career highlights:

• Drafted second overall in the QMJHL draft in 2003 (some kid named Sidney Crosby went first overall).

• The only player in NHL history to wear #84.

• Scored 16 goals as a rookie, then repeated that feat as a sophomore. Followed that up with 14 goals (for a total of 46 in his first three years).

This year hasn’t been too great for Latendresse, as he only has two goals so far.

Fans have been down on him, but I think there was too much pressure on him.

And you know whose career echoes Latendresse so far? John LeClair.

Habs fans may remember LeClair. He was a young power-forward who scored only 46 goals in his first three seasons with the Canadiens. He had only one goal in his fourth season before he was traded.

LeClair went on to have three 50-goal seasons, and finished with more than 400 career goals.

There were two problems with Latendresse’s career so far. One, is that he was rushed into the NHL. Once again, Habs youngsters start playing in the big leagues before they are ready to do so. It’s ruining more of them than helping.

The second is the fans. Just because a young guy (22 years old) doesn’t have 50 goals yet, we get frustrated with them. We boo the players, which puts pressure on management to get rid of them and see them blossom elsewhere.

Latendresse will probably finish the season with 20 goals, and score about 30 or so next year. Then Habs fans will be wondering why he couldn’t do that here, and put even more pressure on other young guys to be more like Latendresse.

And the cycle will repeat itself.

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