Devil’s Advocate: Defending Bourque

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Fans Upset After Dismal Season

The Habs 2011-12 season was a disaster. Plain and simple. Fans have been pointing their fingers in every direction placing the blame on anything and everything they can in order to convince themselves of why things went wrong. Injuries, Jacques Martin, Scott Gomez and Pierre Gauthier pretty much round up the top four reasons.

Injuries no doubt played a huge role. Andrei Markov missed all but 13 games, Scott Gomez was out of action for over half the season missing 44 games, although some may argue that wasn’t a bad thing, Ryan White appeared in only 20 games himself, team captain, Brian Gionta, made 31 appearances and Travis Moen played in 48 games.

Jacques Martin consistently frustrated Habs fans by placing Mathieu Darche on the power play over players like Erik Cole who had more offensive skill. The shoot out was more like a crap shoot as nobody ever knew who Martin would pick when the game was on the line.

Pierre Gauthier, well… I don’t think I have enough time to refresh memories on his faults and quite frankly I doubt anybody even forgets his failings as a GM (although I must say he did make a few good moves and it would be interesting to play devil’s advocate on his behalf).

2012-13 Season Will Start with Glass Half Empty

It comes as no surprise that come October, Canadiens fans will lower their expectations. Sure, Marc Bergevin has replaced the notorious Gauthier upstairs and Michel Therrien is the new bench boss. The fact alone that Martin and Gauthier are gone is enough to have some fans drooling at the thought of immediate improvement.

It seems that the signings of free agents Colby Armstrong, Brandon Prust and Francis Bouillon have a small percentage of Habs faithful even gearing up for post season play. While those acquisitions will help the team, the fact is it simply makes the team tougher and won’t have too much of an effect on scoring.

This is where the hate on Rene Bourque comes in. All over the twitter-verse Rene Bourque has been stamped as a failure. Another bad decision made by the GM who shall not be named. It’s not hard to understand where this hate comes from. At the time of his arrival, the Canadiens were 16-19-7 and 20 minutes away from their 20th loss in regulation time. It was then – during the second intermission – that fan favorite Michael Cammalleri was sent to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque and prospect Patrick Holland.

Bourque brought in by Gauthier at the expense of former 39 goal scorer Cammalleri. Strike one. Bourque appears in 38 games in a Habs uniform and puts up just five goals. Strike two. Habs miss playoffs. Strike three.

There you have it, Bourque is an outcast in Montreal. There is no way the team can move forward with him in their top six.

Bourque Not to Blame

Bourque could’ve helped himself by putting up better numbers, no argument there. His style of play definately doesn’t go with the size he brings, also true. Thing is, he’s only played 38 games with this club. If Bergevin decides against, or is unable to bring in a replacement it seems logical to give Bourque more time rather than throw him under the bus before it’s even left the parking lot.

Bourque was moved from one bad team to another in the middle of the season, that can have an effect on someone. Especially when you’re replacing your new team’s sniper in a year where nothing has gone right for your new club and all eyes are on you. Bourque has had a summer off now to unwind. He will have a new coach who will more than likely urge him to use his size and strength. More importantly he has a healthy Gionta to play alongside and Tomas Plekanec centering them. There is hope that a fresh start will provide Bourque with a chance to return to being the goal scorer he was in back to back seasons when he found the back of the net 27 times in 2008-09 and 09-10.

Remember, after James Neal was traded to the Penguins from the Stars in 2010-11 he managed only one goal and six points in the remaining 20 games. He followed that up by notching 40 goals and 81 points the following season.

Yes, the following season he played alongside Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins are a stronger team than the Habs. I’m not implying Bourque will have an all-star year. It just seems that it’s only fair to give Bourque a fair chance to produce before writing him off.

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About Sean Lloyd

Sean Lloyd has written 92 post in this blog.

Habs fan through thick and thin. I've been following the Habs for 20+ years and have no intention of stopping.

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