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Greatest three what-ifs in Habs history

What if Maurice Richard was traded to the Rangers in 1942?

This is one of those neat bits of trivia not many people know about. The Habs almost traded the Rocket to the New York Rangers only 16 games into Richard’s career, getting Phil Watson back in the deal. But Rangers GM Lester Patrick nixed the idea. One theory I read was that Patrick thought Richard was too brittle.

Which isn’t far off from the truth. Richard played only one game in the 1940-41 season in the Quebec senior league after breaking his ankle. When he made the Habs in 42-43, he broke his ankle again, and that’s why he played only 16 games.

Everyone knows Richard’s story. He became one of the greatest players of all time, and won eight Stanley Cups in 16 years.

So what would have happen if that deal had gone through?

Man oh man, it’s almost scary to think about. First off, the Habs still would have had some success and won some cups. After all, they still would have had Jean Beliveau, Elmer Lach, Bert Olmstead, Doug Harvey, Toe Blake, Henri Richard, Bill Durnan, Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Plante and Dickie Moore. Unless they had a curse like the one on the Red Sox after trading Babe Ruth, the Habs would have still been contenders.

However, they wouldn’t have won as many Cups as they did. Guys would have stepped up and filled in the void, but they would not have had Richard’s ability to dominate a game as often as he did.

More importantly, the impact Richard had on the French-speaking population of Quebec would have never happened. That tension needed a Quebec-born player. The Richard riot never would have happened if it were Billy Reay who got suspended instead of Richard. Quebec fans feel closer to those who have suited up for the Habs. (Marcel Dionne and Gilbert Perreault aren’t as revered in Quebec as Guy Lafleur, for example).

And that brings up another point: If the Richard riot had never happened, what type of impact would that have had on Quebec politics?

And none of this even mentions the impact Richard would have had on the Rangers.

Fun trivia: A few years after rejecting this trade, the Ranger loaned Phil Watson to Montreal for the 1943-44 season. The Habs went on to win the Cup, their first in 13 years.

What if the Habs went with Racicot in the 1993 playoffs?

After two games against the Quebec Nordiques in the first round of the ’93 playoffs, the Habs were down 2-0, and fans were calling for head coach Jacques Demers to pull Patrick Roy and start Andre Racicot instead.

Racicot’s regular-season record was 17 wins, five losses and one tie. His goals against was 3.39 and his save percentage was 0.881. Those numbers sound high, but they’re actually good when you look at the era. Only two goalies who played more than 25 games had a goals against average of under 3. And only five goalies had a save percentage of over .900. So in essence, Racicot was a good goalie for his era. Not great, but good.

According to this Sports Illustrated article, a poll in a Montreal newspaper before the 1993 playoffs thought Roy should be traded, and many of them were saying Racicot should have played Game 3.

Of course, Roy went on to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe.

But what if Racicot did play Game 3 against Quebec?

I don’t think the Habs would have gotten by Quebec. Roy stood on his head the rest of the series, starting in Game 3 (a 34-save performance in a 2-1 OT win). Racicot did see spot action in the playoffs, mostly when Roy was injured.

With Racicot in nets, the Habs lose game 3 against the Nordiques, lose the series in the first round and major changes happen that summer (they hadn’t gotten out of division since losing in the finals in 1989, losing three straight series to the Bruins and this one to the Nordiques). General manager Serge Savard would have been fired that summer. With no faith as Roy as the number one, the Habs would have traded Roy within a year (and not to Quebec/Colorado and probably for another goalie, so it would have impacted the Nordiques/Avalanche franchise greatly as well), and the Habs descent into a mediocre team would have started a few years earlier than it did.

What if the Habs drafted Denis Savard instead of Doug Wickenheiser?

Back in 1980, the Montreal Canadiens and the Chicago Blackhawks had the first and third overall picks respectively, thanks to some shrewd deals. Montreal had made a trade four years before this for the rights to this pick, while Chicago made a trade a year previous where they got the Quebec Nordiques pick on the promise not to take Real Cloutier in the expansion draft.

 

Anyways, the Habs had a tough decision. Take Doug Wickenheiser, who was ranked as the top prospect by the Hockey News, led the Western Hockey League in goals with 89 that and captained his team to a spot in the Memorial Cup. Or they could take Quebec-born Denis Savard. The Habs chose Wickenheiser.

 

Quebec fans were upset because they wanted a French player. So the deck was stacked against Wickenheiser from the start.

So what if the Habs took Savard instead? Could Savard have had the same great career in Montreal that he did in Chicago? I don’t think so. I think Savard would have struggled in Montreal. Savard got to Chicago and was able to play top minutes because there was no one else on the roster. Savard was competing with Tom Lysiak, Reg Kerr, Bob Murray, Tim Higgins and Terry Ruskowski for ice time. The only other blue-chipper on that squad was Darryl Sutter. Savard was able to make mistakes and keep playing.

Montreal’s squad was tougher to crack: Steve Shutt, Guy Lafleur, Bob Gainey, Doug Risebrough, Mark Napier, Mario Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Yvon Lambert and Pierre Larouche. It would have been tough to get top minutes right away. If he made a mistake, he would have been benched (remember, Wickenheiser played just 41 games that season).

What do you think? What would have happened to Montreal in any of these scenarios?

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My problems with the Amazing Race Canada

So tonight is the finale of the Amazing Race Canada.

The Amazing Race wouldn’t have been as good without Jet and Dave.

While it’s been fun to watch some of the locations and a couple of the teams, the show made a lot of mistakes. Some of the decisions made by contestants are producers were just baffling.

Here are my top five problems with the show:

1) My friend Mike pointed this one out. Almost every single couple has some sort of cause. There’s the gay cowboys. The guy who had his legs blown off. The dad with Parkinson’s. And so on. Usually, the Amazing Race has one or two of them in a season. This year, almost every team had a cause. It kind of takes away from one of them whenever everyone has one.

2) Every team is athletic. Right from the start, you could tell this wasn’t going to resemble the average Canadian. Contestants have run track, have been in the Army, done Body Break for 25 years, been cheerleaders, etc. Where was the guy who doesn’t play sports? The geek couple who spend too much time on the computer? The couple who weigh 250 pounds each?

What makes the Amazing Race great is the cross-section of life it represents. The Amazing Race Canada only represents the fit.

3) Where the contestants are from. Five of the nine teams are from Ontario. And then one from each of Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta. No one from the North. No one from the Atlantic provinces.

My theory? Because people from those areas would have an advantage when it came to their province, so they weren’t included. Most Newfies have been to St. John’s, or know the language. That would have been easier for them. Same with Nova Scotians and Halifax.

This is where the original Amazing Race is better. Because they fly all over the world, there’s no local connection. (By the way, that’s another problem with this show: see my post on that here).

4) The contestants are stupid. If any one in the U.S. is watching this show, they must think Canadians are in-shape stupid people. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a season of the Amazing Race where people are just stupid the whole way through. Some examples:

— In Quebec City, in a race to not finish last between two teams left at a roadblock, Tim Jr. was stupid enough to tell Vanessa what the translation for cherries was in French when she didn’t know it. She would still be there making those crepes if it wasn’t for that.

— The doctor couple and Hal and Joanne told everyone that they took the two-hour penalty in Saskatchewan. That meant the two teams were gunning for each other, and Tim and Tim were gunning for Hal and Joanne. If either of the teams don’t say they took the penalty, people wouldn’t have been gunning for them. All those two teams did was put a target on their backs, and Hal and Joanne got eliminated for it.

— Kristen and Darren didn’t use a Fast Forward when they had one, and got eliminated.

5) There seem to be several parts of the show that is just off a little.

This one is harder to explain, but I’ll give three examples.

— In Halifax, as each team arrived at the mat, Jon told them the race was still ongoing, and gave them their next clue. Then, they all boarded the same boat and went to Newfoundland, where they all started on an even keel. What’s the point of having Jon there at all? The team that arrived first received no extra time than the team that arrived last. That doesn’t seem right.

— The football pass to Holly in Saskatchewan. You will never be able to convince me that was a fair pass like everyone else was getting. Everyone was getting these high lobs that they had to keep running for. Holly ran a few yards, turned around, and the softest throw ever was given to her.

Just watch.

At the 25:50 mark, you can see the pass thrown to Dave. Or at 31:46, the one thrown to Tim. Compare that to the 39 minute mark, when it’s thrown to Holly. The editing is horrendous. There’s no way that was the type of throw that was given to others. She barely made it 10 yards down the field.

— The episode in Newfoundland where the Amazing Race producers decided who was doing the Roadblock. I have never seen that before.

— Having to fly Air Canada only. One of the things that makes the Amazing Race fun is seeing the contestants trying competing airlines to figure out a quicker way to their destination. That didn’t happen here.

Here’s the thing. I’ve enjoyed the Canadian Amazing Race because of Jet and Dave. And the producers are lucky for them. There’s no way the show would be as popular if they were gone early. Imagine watching the last few weeks with the same teams, but the doctors in place of Jet and Dave.

There’s just too many things that bother me about the show. Maybe if they bring it back for a second season, they can make it better.

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Goodbye: GM Gauthier gone, who should replace him

It came to as an absolute shock to no one that Montreal Canadiens general manager was fired today.

Arnold C photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Should Scotty Bowman come back to Montreal to be the new general manager? I say yes.

While Gauthier did make a couple of good moves (signing Erik Cole, the Hal Gill trade), he made way more mistakes than any GM should be. I’m not going to get into them all here, because I already wrote about them weeks ago.

So now the focus shifts onto who the next general manager is. There’s a lot of speculation out there, ranging from the inexperienced like Pierre McGuire and Julien Brisebois to the even more inexperienced like Patrick Roy.

Of those three, I like Pierre McGuire. But I think the Habs need to get an NHL-experienced general manager (as well as an NHL-experienced coach).

The way I see it, there’s a few criteria the new GM needs: experience, respect, bilingual, ability to recognize great young players, willing to make big moves, etc.

So looking at that, if I were in charge of the Montreal Canadiens, there’s only one name I would go after.

Scotty Bowman.

How cool would that be? First off, it’d be the ultimate comeback, something that you normally only see in a WWE storyline. For those who don’t know, Bowman left the Habs back in 1979 when he was passed over for the general manager’s job. It would be nice to see him come back for another shot at glory with Les Glorieux.

He’s got the experience. He was the general manager of the Buffalo Sabres in the early 1980s. And I also believe he was general manager of the Detroit Red Wings for a period, but I’m not 100% sure on that. He’s currently the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations with the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s won a total of 12 Stanley Cups.

He’s definitely got the respect. There’s probably not a more respected person in the NHL.

I’m not sure if he’s bilingual, but he was born and raised in Quebec, not to mention the eight seasons he coached the Habs, so I’m guessing he is.

He’s been in the NHL in some capacity since the 1960s. You don’t last that long without knowing how to recognize a good prospect or two.

As for big deals, when he was GM of the Sabres, he broke up one of the best lines in hockey, by dealing Rene Robert to Colorado, and Danny Gare to Detroit. He also dealt Rick Martin to Los Angeles for a first round pick that turned out to be Tom Barrasso.

Would Bowman want to come back to Montreal? I don’t know. I just think that the Habs ownership should do everything they can to get him. If anyone could lead the Habs back to the promise land of a Stanley Cup, it’s Scotty Bowman.

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Still trying to win a poker tournament

So I played poker with my buddies again the other night, and it turned out to be quite profitable.

Photo by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com Original uploader was Creet at en.wikipedia

Phil Gordon is giving a lecture on how not to play poker like I did last Friday

Like last time I blogged about it, I ended up finishing third out of 23 people, and this time won $130. But it was a strange night of play for me. I was short stack a lot, and never actually eliminated anyone. Strange to make it so far and not knock anyone out.

By comparison, the last time I finished third, I had eliminated four people out of the 13 people there, but because there was less people in the tourney, I only won $60.

Still, making money is good. And it’s always a lot of fun.

Once again, I thought I would bring you inside my head to show you what I was thinking, and so you can laugh at my silly play on some of the hands. I played one hand exceptionally poorly (Hand #6 if you want to skip ahead).

Let’s start right at the beginning.

Hand one.

First hand of the night. I’m in the small blind, and about four people call. I look down and see 5-2 offsuit. Normally, I like to play hands when I’m in the small blind and there hasn’t been a raise. But I figured this starting hand was especially bad. Too many callers, and me with nothing. So I fold. Flop came 5-5-3. I hang my head in shame. I would have won that pot. I can’t remember who won it, or with what, but three of a kind would have taken it. Someone else in early position says he folded the other five. So I’m not having a great beginning.

Nothing much more exciting happened for a while. I was involved in some pots, but didn’t win them.

But then I get something good, which leads me to….

Hand two.

I had AQ offsuit, in early position. I raise. Only one guy calls. Flop comes AT6 (not sure on the six, but it was a low to mid card). The other guy puts me all in. I think about it for a minute or two. I figure there are two possibilities. I think he has either AJ, and if so, I’m in the lead. Or he has two pair, probably AT. I didn’t think he had a set or he would have set a trap and let me bet into him. So I rank his two hands at one of those choices.

flipchip • lasvegasvegas.com

Once again not seen at the poker tournament: a girl.

It’s a 50/50 chance. So I finally decide to call, and I remember saying “Two pair, right?”. The guy shows AK. Ugh. Never even thought of that. I would have guessed on a preflop re-raise with AK. Shoot. I only have a 12% chance to win this hand. And I don’t.

I busted out, the first of 23 people to be eliminated.

But wait, I get to rebuy! There’s one rebuy a night, and has to be done in the first three rounds. I decide to do so, and get another $30 in chips.

So I continue to play. I lost some hands holding AK and small pocket pairs. I was down to about $13 in chips at one point.

Somehow, I continued to stay in the game. At one point, I got lucky and tripled up, bringing my total to $39. What’s funny is I have no idea what that hand was. You think it would have stay in my head, but it didn’t.

For most of the night, I never really had a lot of hands, and was usually near the bottom of the chip count. But somehow I kept staying in.

At the first break, we’re down a few people, but I think there’s still 17 or so people. I look at the table next to me. I had $65 in chips. My buddy Matt had $69 in chips. I was officially short stacked, with the blinds continuing to raise and people stealing my money.

But then hand number three happened.

Hand three.

I had 6-2 in the big blind. One guy called, and I’m not sure if there were any other callers. But the flop came 665. I checked, and the first caller raised quite a bit. If anyone else was in the pot, they folded. I move all-in. The other guy is pretty sure he’s beat. I actually don’t remember if he called or not. Even without him calling (I think he did), it was still a substantial pot. I win and get a much needed pot.

We’re down to five people at two tables. We merge when there’s nine people left. So the blinds are killing me. I win a few small pots to stay around, but I am anxious for the merge so the blinds don’t come around to me as much.

Eventually, someone is knocked out, and we’re at one final table. Nine of us, top five positions pay. My seat changes, and I look around the table to size up my competition. There’s Paul, one of the organizers who hasn’t cashed in at the tournament in more than two years. Dom is being super aggressive, and probably has 40 per cent of the chips. There’s a real good poker player to my right (I think his name is Mike). The guy I lost AQ vs AK is on my left. Matt is across the table, and is still fighting strong, considering he was in the same boat as me at the break with the chips. Then there’s a few more guys I’m not that familiar with.

Now that I don’t need to worry about the blinds as often, I can become more patient. My hand comes pretty early into the final table.

flipchip • lasvegasvegas.com

Jennifer Leigh was not present at our tourney.

Hand four.

I’m in the big blind. There’s one caller, and the small blind calls as well. I look down at AA. I try to mix up my play when I have AA. Sometimes I call, sometimes I raise. And when I raise, I mix it up, sometimes all in, sometimes three times the blinds, sometimes somewhere in between. Here, I want to see how serious the two callers are about their hand, figuring if they call, they’ve got a pretty good hand. I’m also hoping someone re-raises me all-in for the easy call. So I raise four or five times the blinds. The first guy folds, but Mike in the small blind position calls.

The flop comes down with A-9-2. Mike is first to act, and he thinks about it for a bit, and announces he’s all-in. I call and show my set. He has AT.

So I double up. Mike had more money than me, so he was still in the game, but he was pretty short stacked, and was gone not too long later.

Soon after, another hand occurs that was beneficial to me.

Hand five.

Pretty simple. I’m not sure how or who raised who all-in, but me and Dom ended up all-in preflop. I had KK vs his QQ. The kings hold up. This may have actually happened in the final five, I don’t remember. But I think it was at this spot.

I look around at everyone’s chips. We’ve lost a few people and are down to six. I believe I’m in second in chips, which is pretty good. Then my cards go dead, which is pretty bad. I was getting nothing. Even in the small blind, I was getting hands like 2-7 and 3-8 offsuit. Made it pretty difficult to take advantage of my chip stack.

But it took a good while before someone was eliminated to get is down to five. People were being cautious here as they wanted to finish in the money.

Eventually someone is gone and we’re now in the money. Again, a lot of cautious play from everyone except Dom. Fifth place paid $45. Since most people paid $40, that means whoever came fifth would have spent about four or five hours playing to win $5 profit.

Paul has made the money, but Dom has been picking on him the entire final table. Dom was in the small blind when Paul was big blind, and Dom was just raising him every time. To be fair, he had an ace almost every single time. Eventually, and I think this turned the entire table around, they both got all their money in preflop.

Dom raised Paul, and Paul went all-in, to which Dom called. Paul had 88 and Dom had 99. Paul lucked out when an eight showed, and he doubled up.

This hand changed the table for several reasons. One, instead of being down to four players, we were still at five and there was still cautious play. Two, If Dom had won the hand, he would have had about 60% of the chips at the table, and would have been in control. And three, right after this hand, Paul started getting some good cards and quickly took control of the action, meaning he was no longer short stacked.

No, the short stack honour would go to me quite often at this point.

It wasn’t too much longer before Dom was eliminated, and then the guy to my right. So we’re down to three people. Me, Paul, and another guy named Paul (who I didn’t mix up with all that much that night up to this point).

Strange trivia time: The first time I played and finished in the money, the other two final people were named Chris. This time, they were both named Paul. We need more people with the same name so I can finish in the money more often.

Now came my absolute worst hand of the night. Maybe my worst hand I’ve ever played.

flipchip • lasvegasvegas.com

Howard Lederer can't believe I checked a full house on the turn.

Hand six.

Three of us left. I had 97 offsuit. I’m in the big blind. Both players call, so I check. Flop came 2C-2D-9D for two pair. A check to me. I bet, hoping to win it right there. Both people call. I’m thinking someone must have a high pocket pair or someone is holding a two for the set. Turn came a 9H, giving me a full house. Now, I’m pretty sure I’m ahead. At this point I want to trap someone. So I check. But the move backfires, as both Pauls check. The river comes AD. The first Paul raises. The second Paul re-raises. I’m screwed. I think someone for sure either has quad 2s, or a higher full house with the ace. I debate calling or moving all in, but can’t justify the call. I fold. First Paul calls. First Paul has a flush. The second Paul has a higher flush. I would have ended up winning the whole hand, and probably could have at least doubled up, or at least tripled up.

What I did wrong was checking the turn. At this point, I probably should have moved all-in, or made a substantial bet. Folding on the river doesn’t irk me. I think that was a smart play, even though I read the strength of my opponents wrong. The play read like someone having an ace or quad twos. There were calls on the flop (people thinking the ace high or a set was good), and I gave them a free card after the turn, and then the ace hits. The mistake wasn’t in the folding at the end. The mistake was playing it wrong at the turn. Argh.

Action was going back and forth between the three of us for a while after this. The blinds were $20-$40, and I would hover between $150 to $250 in chips. I would win some pots preflop, and fold some blinds preflop.

The end came not too long afterwards.

Hand seven.

I have KT at the dealer position with about $200 in chips. Raising three times the blinds doesn’t make sense, since I’m essentially pot-committed to any re-raise, I move all-in. Besides, KT is a great starting hand, and with three players left, can be expected to win about 40 per cent of the time without even knowing any other cards. Unfortunately, second Paul had AJ offsuit.

Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com

One of these days I'll win that elusive bracelet.

The first card shown on the flop was a ten, but an ace also came up. I knew at that point I wasn’t getting lucky on the turn or river. AJ held up, and I was out of tournament in third spot.

For the most part, I was pleased with my play. To come third in a 23-player tourney where I was the first one out, and then I was short stacked quite often, is pretty good.

In case you were wondering, first Paul ended up winning the tourney. He’s one of the organizers, and hasn’t even cashed in at any tourney in two years. So congrats to Paul.

I’m looking forward to the next poker game, and I know what I need to do to win. One is to start off the tournament better. And two is to make sure I keep all the same-name people in the game to improve my odds of a good showing.

(Editor’s note: Due to some confusion, the other two people at the final table were not both named Paul. One was named Dean. For sake of editing purposes, and the fact I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good theory, I didn’t change it in the story. But now you know.)

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Two more keeper pool deals

So I’ve made two more keeper pool deals in the last week, and the fine-tuning of my roster is nearly complete.

Dan4th Nicholas photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Johan Franzen was on my keeper pool team for about a week.

Deal #1

The first deal was my Johan Franzen for a third round and a fifth round pick in 2013.

It may sound strange to trade Franzen, a keeper on most teams, for only a mid- and a low-draft pick. But this is a different year than normal for my keeper pool.

This summer, we have two expansion teams joining The Greatest Keeper Pool Ever. Because of that, our normal rules for keepers are taking a backseat. Normally, we can keep 15 players plus two rookies (no positional requirements). This year, we can keep only eight forwards, five defencemen, two goalies and one rookie. It doesn’t sound like a big difference, but it actually is.

The other new rule for this offseason only has to do with dropped players. You can designate one of them to be a “draft” player. If that player is chosen by an expansion team, you get a sixth round draft pick (our drafts are normally five rounds). So you get an extra pick out of it.

But you can only designate one person to be that draft player. So if you drop 10 players, the most you’re going to get is one sixth round draft pick.

So my goals for the last two months have been to trade my extra players for picks and to upgrade any keepers I could. Even if I only get a fifth round pick for a player, that is still better than a sixth. But most of my trades have been for picks higher than that.

Franzen was a guy I couldn’t keep. My eight keepers are Malkin, Stamkos, Parise, Hall, Duchene, E. Kane, Ryan and Zetterberg, with Granlund being my rookie keeper. There’s no one on that list I would drop in favour of Franzen.

Matt, the guy I dealt Franzen to, is fighting for first with Kevin, where the lead seems to change daily. Right now, the difference between first and second is three points. Franzen gave Matt an extra seven points.

As a side note, I had acquired Franzen from Kevin as part of a deal that saw me get Letang. So I’m trading for players from one, and sending them to the other guy.

Deal #2

This happened about a day after the Franzen deal, and it was with Kevin.

Vava manouche photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Carey Price, welcome back to my keeper pool team.

I traded Antti Niemi, a second and a fifth round pick in 2013 for Carey Price. It gave Kevin a much better goalie option for the rest of this season, but it helps me out long-term.

My keepers before the trade looked like this:

Defence: Letang, Markov, Streit, Boyle, Murphy

Goalies: Miller, Niemi

I definitely wanted to upgrade both groups. But for defence, I’m going to wait until after the expansion teams draft their teams before worrying about improving that position. That way, I can try to trade a pick for a defenceman, or just wait until our regular draft and get one or two defencemen then.

In nets, I have faith that Ryan Miller will be a beast again next season. He has at least 34 wins in each of the last five seasons, and at least six shutouts in each of the last four. So he’s having an off-year. It happens.

So that left me with the option of upgrading Niemi, and I believe I did that. Niemi generally doesn’t get a lot of starts. He only had 60 last year, and is on pace for 64. Thomas Griess has shown to be a capable backup, and actually has a lower goals against average and a higher save percentage than Niemi. So I don’t think Niemi will be getting more than 65 starts a year.

Now, because those 65 starts are with San Jose, that means he’ll get more wins because the players in front of him are so good. If you win a game 2-1 or 6-5, it doesn’t matter in our league. All that matters are wins and shutouts.

But Price is considered one of the top young goalies in the NHL, and wins games by himself. He played in 72 games last year, and is on pace for another 71 games this year. If Montreal can get a little better in front of him (and it shouldn’t take much to be a little better), he will get more fantasy points than Niemi each year. Even right now, under our league format, Price is only four fantasy points behind Niemi.

And honestly, as a Habs fan, I wanted Price back on my keeper pool team. I did own him, but traded him as part of a deal that gave me Miller and Parise.

So for me, that’s another good pickup.

I only have two players left that I can possibly drop: Kadri and Brodeur. I don’t know if I’ll be able to trade any of them, especially Brodeur, but I’m hoping I can.

Even if it means just moving up the draft by a round.

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What would an all-Quebec NHL team look like?

So there was a protest in Montreal the other day.

Bridget Samuels photo, via Wikimedia Commons

The Habs tried to get Daniel Briere, but he preferred Philadelphia to Montreal.

Unlike the previous protest — held to show support for Alexei Kovalev — this one was to show that the new coach of the Canadiens should be able to speak French.

And it must have been a pretty big protest. I mean, it was covered by a lot of media, it made international news, it features some controversy… wait, only 200 people showed up? So Occupy Bell Centre wasn’t a success?

Oh, well despite the protest’s failure, it did get people talking.

Take this Yahoo story (which is in English, so that must have irked the protesters), that was written by a Montreal Gazette reporter. The reporter talks to the different protesters, and there was one that jumped out at me.

The woman, named Josée Racine, who admits she’s not even a big Habs fan (it would be kind of ironic if she was a Leafs supporter, but the article never tells us), said she wants to see a more francophone hockey team in Montreal.

Never mind the fact there are only 55 NHL players who have played at least one game this season who was born in Quebec (according to Hockey-Reference.com), and that Montreal has dressed at least three of them. No, the team must be more Francophone.

And never mind the fact that the Habs brass have tried in the past to bring in Quebec-born players. Daniel Briere shunned us for Philadelphia. JP Dumont decided he liked Nashville better than Montreal. Vincent Lecavalier wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to come play for the Canadiens. And the list goes on and on.

That got me thinking: Could there be such a thing as a team made up of entirely of Quebec-born players? And if so, what would this Francophone team look like? And could they be successful?

Of course, I have to put in a mix of players: some skilled, some not-so-skilled, some tough guys, some stay-at-home defencemen, etc. Don’t be expecting an all-star team here, because the Habs wouldn’t be able to afford their salaries. I decided it would just be easier if we replaced players on the current squad with their French-born equivalent.

And I have to make sure the team stays under the salary cap.

And before I go even further, let me point out that no matter how much you wish it may be so because of their last names, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin and Matt Moulson are not from Quebec.

Goalies

Carey Price: Marc-Andre Fleury. Probably the closest to Price in terms of age and potential. Other NHL Francophone starters are either really experienced (Martin Brodeur) or really young (Corey Crawford). Cap hit of $5 million.

Peter Budaj: Jean-Sebastien Giguere. A serviceable veteran backup.  Cap hit of $1.25 million.

MIA: Roberto Luongo. Although he’s awfully similar to Price in the way they are treated by fans (getting booed when things are going bad, thinking each is the greatest goalie in the league when it’s going well), that’s where commonality ends.

Defence

Josh Gorges: Francois Beauchemin. Best I could come up with for a strong defensive player. Cap hit of $3.8 million.

Arnold C photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Francois Beauchemin could come back to play for the Habs.

P.K. Subban: Jason Demers. Pretty close in career points and games, and only one year apart. Cap hit of $1.25 million.

Hal Gill: Alexandre Picard. Yes, not even close to the same type of player. But he’s the one with the most experience that doesn’t fit anywhere else. Cap hit of $0.6 million.

Raphael Diaz: Marco Scandella. A player most people have never heard of, unless you happen to be a fan of their team. Cap hit of $0.85 million.

Tomas Kaberle: Marc-Edouard Vlasic. After years of playing in San Jose, knows exactly what it takes to be a disappointing playoff performer, just like Kaberle. Cap hit of $3.1 million.

Alexei Emelin: Marc-Andre Gragnani. Although a different type of NHLer than Emelin, an exciting young player. Don’t like it? Try finding another hard-hitting young French defenceman. Cap hit of $0.55 million.

Chris Campoli: Marc-Andre Bergeron. A powerplay specialist who can’t really defend. Cap hit of $1 million.

Andrei Markov: Stephane Robidas. I couldn’t find an oft-injured Francophone defencemen, so I took Robidas, as he is the best veteran scorer out of all the ones out there. Cap hit of $3.3 million.

MIA: Kris Letang. If you think there’s anyone on the team that is as good as Kris Letang, you don’t watch enough Habs games.

Forwards

Max Pacioretty: Derick Brassard. Good young talent. No idea if he can be a consistent top line player, although all the signs point to them doing so. Cap hit of $3.2 million.

5of7 photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Derick Brassard was born in Quebec. Who cares if he's struggling, he's from Quebec.

David Desharnais: Already from Quebec, so he doesn’t need replacing. Cap hit of $0.85 million.

Erik Cole: Alex Tanguay. Older player that has surprised everyone with their scoring prowess immediately after being signed by a Canadian team. Cap hit of $3.5 million.

Michael Cammalleri: Daniel Briere. Seems to score in bunches. Every time I watch them play, they score. How do they not each have 100-goal seasons? Cap hit of $6.5 million.

Tomas Plekanec: Patrice Bergeron. A consistent 20-goal scorer, whose main job is to shut down the other team’s top line while adding defence. Cap hit of $5 million.

Andrei Kostitsyn: Gui Latendresse. Wait, you mean the Habs traded the wrong underperformer who gets booed by fans? Cap hit of $2.5 million.

Lars Eller: Mathieu Perreault. Good young third-line centre. Cap hit of $0.525 million.

Travis Moen: Maxime Talbot. Hey look. It’s the career third-liner who is has a reputation of being tougher than he is! Cap hit of $1.75 million.

Mathieu Darche: Doesn’t need replacing, as he’s already from Quebec. Cap hit of $0.7 million

Michael Blunden: Philippe Dupuis. Both can be sent down to the AHL with no problem. Cap hit of $0.65 million.

Scott Gomez: Vincent Lecavalier. Just because we need a cap-killing contract that people are going to boo when they realize a $7 million player isn’t going to break Wayne Gretzky’s records. Cap hit of $7.72 million.

Ryan White: Francis Lessard. Semi-permanent AHLer. Cap hit of $0.55 million.

Conclusion

The team doesn’t look like the greatest, does it? Especially on defence. As it is now, that French Canadiens team is at $54.145 million.

Sure, I know most people will say “Look, you’re obviously not including the superstars and the young talent. Where’s Paul Stastny, Martin St. Louis, Alex Burrows, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, David Perron, Jason Pominville, Mike Ribeiro, P.A. Parenteau, etc.” But those are upgrades on the above team, which wasn’t my point. And remember, for every Ray Bourque that is from Quebec, there’s a Patrice Brisebois too.

But let’s just do a top French players team, just to see what it looks like. Ignore the fact no one will ever put together a team of just top American players, or top Swedish players, or top Ontarians, etc. If they did, the French media would think there’s a bias against the French.

But just pretend the Habs did get the top players. Below would be the team (brackets are the cap hit for each player).

Goalies: Luongo (5.33), Crawford (2.67)

Defence: Letang (3.5), Robidas (3.3), Bergeron (1), Demers (1.25), Beauchemin (3.8), Gragnani (0.55), Vlasic (3.1)

Forwards: Brassard (3.2), Briere (6.5), St. Louis (5.6), Ribeiro (5), Burrows (2), Stastny (6.6), Bouchard (4.08), Perron (2.15), Pominville (5.3), Lecavalier (7.72), Latendresse (2.5), Bergeron (5), Parenteau (1.25)

Looks a lot better, no? Of course, that combined salary cap is a whopping $81.4, only $17 million over the cap. And some of those guys are due for raises next season.

Here’s the thing: As mention above, there’s only been 55 players this year who have played at least one game in the NHL that was born in Quebec. Ten of them have been goalies. It’s pretty hard to stock a team of Quebecers when there’s not that many of them in the NHL.

The team doesn’t need to get more French. They need to get more good players. No one would be complaining if the Habs had the Red Wings team. Even though there’s no Quebec-born players on Detroit, would Habs fans be booing Lidstrom if he didn’t speak French like they did to Saku Koivu? Would Quebec media say there needs to be more French players on the team, even though they have a Stanley Cup, a finals lost, two other semi-finals in the last four years, and are in second place in the Western standings this year? Would people really be saying, “you know, I like Mike Babcock, but he’s not French enough?”

If so, then that last paragraph shows you what the main problem with the Habs is. You get the best players and coaches possible, no matter what language they speak. End of story.

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Major keeper pool deal

So I made another deal this week in my keeper pool.

Dan4th Nicholas photo, via Wikimedia Commons

Kris Letang makes a nice addition to my keeper pool team.

With me being out of it this year, I’m not really looking to make some earth-shattering moves. But if I get a chance to improve my keepers, I’m going to jump on it.

And such an opportunity presented itself this week in The Greatest Keeper Pool Ever.

I traded Shea Weber and Jaromir Jagr for Kris Letang, Johan Franzen and a third and fifth rounder in 2013. The deal was with Kevin, who is in first overall, but not by much. As it stands now, it’s 15 points over second, and 16 points over third. And that’s after the deal. Before the deal, it was much closer.

Weber is now back playing after a concussion, so Kevin can get points from him, while Letang isn’t even skating. Franzen has two more points than Jagr, but has been slowing down a lot lately (only seven points in the last 30 days). And even though Jagr is injured, he should be back next week. I expect Jagr to outscore Franzen the rest of this season.

Plus, Kevin had made an earlier deal with a future consideration that stated if Kevin won the pool and Franzen finished in the top eight in scoring on Kevin’s team, Kevin owed the other guy his first round pick. So he wasn’t able to deal that pick. But by trading Franzen, it frees up the first rounder for him to try and make another move.

While it’s actually not a part of the stated deal, Kevin gained a first rounder of it.

So for Kevin, the trade was a good one.

As for me, it benefits my team in the long-term. I was going to have to drop Jagr at the end of the season anyways, so this way, at least I got something for him.

And Letang is, in my opinion, the better defenceman than Weber in a points pool. He plays with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and whoever happens to be on a line with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Weber gets stuck giving the puck to Sergei Kostitsyn and David Legwand.

I expect Letang to be one of the best offensive defencemen for years. He was on pace for 70 points before he was knocked out with a concussion. He will be manning the powerplay on Pittsburgh for years.

Plus, Letang is about four years younger than Weber. Not sure if that really means much, honestly, but some people in my pool value youth above anything else. If I ever have to trade Letang, I should be able to get more value for him than I would have with Weber simply because of the age.

So as it stands now, my team looks like this (bold are keepers):

Forwards: Malkin, Stamkos, Parise, Hall, Duchene, E. Kane, Ryan, Zetterberg, Granlund, Franzen, Kadri

Defence: Letang, Markov, Streit, Boyle, Murphy

Goalies: Miller, Niemi, Brodeur

I now need to figure out what to do with Franzen and Kadri. I would like to keep Kadri, but I don’t think I will be able to. I may try to make a two-for-one deal so I don’t drop Franzen for nothing. Say, Franzen and Zetterberg for a keeper a bit better than Zetterberg. I’ve already tried to trade Kadri for a pick, but there’s been no takers.

I’m pleased with my defencemen. If I can upgrade there, I will. But I’m not activily looking to make a move. Streit and Boyle are consistent 50-point guys, but are getting a bit older. Murphy should be a dynamite defenceman in Carolina. The big question mark is Markov. If he can stay healthy next season, I’ll be pretty happy with his output.

As for my goalies, they could be stronger, but I’m content with them. Antii Niemi should be the #1 in San Jose for at least a couple more years. And I’m hoping Ryan Miller can go back to his Vezina-winning form sometime soon.

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