Trading Cammy will be a mistake

Pierre Gauthier’s job is on the line.

Resolute photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Mike Cammalleri is on his way back to Calgary.

The Habs general manager knows this. That’s why he’s desperate for a move. He fired an assistant coach hours before a game. He fired the head coach. He traded for Tomas Kaberle.

Last night, out of all his moves, he made the wrong one.

Gauthier traded Mike Cammalleri, Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in the 2012 draft for Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.

I don’t mind the assets the Habs got. I think Bourque will be an adequate second-line player. He’ll get 20 to 25 goals, finish with about 50 points, and be well-liked (although someone should tell the French media that despite his first and last name, Bourque is from Alberta).

Holland, a seventh round draft pick by the Flames in 2010, is tearing up the WHL this season. He’s ninth in the league in points.

And the draft pick was an added bonus. Moving a fifth rounder for a second rounder is always a  good thing.

And they save some salary cap space with the deal as well.

Looks like it should be a win for the Habs.

The problem is what the Canadiens had to give up. Mike Cammalleri is one of their biggest threats offensively. Yes, he’s having an offyear. But everyone on the Habs are.

Cammy was their best forward, especially playoff time. Two years ago, he led the league in playoff goals, despite not making it to the finals. Last year, he led the league in points after the first round. The problem wasn’t Cammalleri wasn’t scoring, it’s that no one else was. I even said at the time: When the Habs get into overtime, if Cammalleri doesn’t score, they’re not winning. And they didn’t win one overtime game.

That will be hard to replace. Gauthier went about this all wrong. He should have gotten complimentary players to play with Cammalleri, not trade him for those complimentary players.

Here’s why Gauthier needs to be fired now: If he’s not going to be here next summer, he shouldn’t be making decisions about the future of this franchise.

Of course, much of this stems from what Cammy said to the media the other day. He said:

“I can’t accept that we will display a losing attitude as we’re doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no wonder why we lose.”

He’s not saying anything that anyone watching the games wouldn’t have noticed. The whole attitude on the team is pretty bad. When Boston scored the first goal last night (off a fluke bounce), no one got angry. No one was saying “that’s okay, we’ll get that one back.

The players seemed to shrug their shoulders and ask “Again? Can’t we catch a break?” They think they’re going to lose, so they do. They play with no confidence. There have been many games this season when they have given up.

And if they’re down in a game, fans don’t really believe they can come back. And nor should they. The record is brutal. When the Habs are trailing after two periods, the have won only one game, lost 15 and lost in overtime/shootout three times, for a winning percentage of 0.053 (the only teams worse are the Leafs, Islanders, Ducks, Hurricanes and Jets).

That also means that, after two periods, the Habs are losing in 44 per cent of the games they play in. Think about that. Almost half the time they play, they’ll be losing after 40 minutes. That is sad.

Only 13 times have they been winning after two periods, for a rate of 30 per cent.

So yeah, they lose a lot. Having Cammalleri say it doesn’t make it any less true.

I think you’ll see Cammalleri find success again in Calgary. He’ll probably get 35-40 goals next year, flirt with 80 points, and Habs fans will be thinking, “wait, why did we trade him?” And the media will ask why he couldn’t flourish in a defence-first system led by a French coach.

I’m a pretty big Cammalleri fan. Two years ago, when writing about who should be the captain of the Habs, I wrote this :

It’s gotta be Mike Cammalleri.

There’s the numbers that back this up. He’s the most dangerous man on the ice for the Habs. He’s the only player on the roster one figures could pot 50 goals next year. He had a great playoffs. He’s signed for a few more seasons (which means he’s less likely to leave), and he never gives up on the ice.

But it’s not just the numbers. More than any other player last year, he seemed to understand the history of the team and respect it. If there was something to do with the Habs 100th anniversary, he did it. If someone from the past came to the locker room, he seemed to genuinely be excited about it.

In short, he is proud to be a Montreal Canadien.

He also bought tickets for military troops and their families as a way to say thank you for serving our country.

He’s the team’s leader, on and off the ice, and should be made captain because of it.

Hopefully, Cammy can find success in Calgary that he couldn’t find in Montreal.


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