During the 2013 off-season, Marc Bergevin spent nearly $6.5 million to improve the Montreal Canadiens. He started off with the ever confusing and controversial signing of Daniel Briere for a generous two-year deal that will pay the Gatineau native $8 million. Bergevin’s following move was trading a seventh round pick in 2014 along with AHLer Philippe Lefebvre to the Florida Panthers for enforcer George Parros. His final move came in August with the signing of Douglas Murray to a one year deal worth $1.5 million to replace the then injured Alexei Emelin.
Thus far, as likeable as they may be, all three of these players haven’t improved the team all that much.
Combined, the trio average 23 games played, 2.3 goals, 2.6 assists, a differential of 5.3, and 22 penalty minutes. I don’t think Bergevin was looking for such a terrible stat line from these three veterans.
I know Murray and Parros aren’t expected to bring any offence, but together they don’t even total 40 games played and they are a combined -14. Murray has the team’s worst differential with a -13 in only 32 games. The big rearguard has been a give-away machine and has proven his reputation of a defender with cement hands and feet. It is safe to say that Murray will not be resigned at season’s end and will need to find another team either willing to give him another chance, or desperate for a veteran physical defenseman.
George Parros’s acquisition was met with a rather positive reaction from the fans. Playing on opening night against the hated Toronto Maple Leafs, the now 34 year old was having a very good game and had won a fight against fellow enforcer Colton Orr. However, in a freak accident, Parros’s night came to an abrupt end during his second fight against Orr. Since then, things went downhill for him, often struggling during fights and being on the ice for a few goals against. Subsequently, he suffered a second concussion in two months against the Islanders’ Eric Boulton. With no points and a -4 rating and 42 penalty minutes, Parros is fighting more than he ever did in his career. The question is: can he sustain such a game with his concussion troubles? I don’t think so.
The Montreal Canadiens’ management, or Parros, will have to take a tough decision if the 6’5″ veteran suffers another concussion, no matter how small it may be health and his children. With his major in economics at Princeton University, he shouldn’t have any worries for his post-hockey career. Some people were telling me that Parros can’t retire midway in a season. Well they are wrong. The Canadiens can place the Washington native on long-term injury reserved and shut him down, much like the Boston Bruins are doing with Marc Savard. Anytime I see Parros drop the gloves now, I cringe because another concussion could be disastrous for him.
Like I mentioned earlier, Daniel Briere’s signing was rather confusing to say the least. Marc Bergevin said he believed in having a balanced team. This means having a good balance between size and speed, and grit and speed. The Habs have lots of speed and skill, but lacked in size and grit. After striking out on Vincent Lecavalier, Bergevin signed Briere, but after Briere’s rejection to sign in Montreal back in 2007, Habs fans have always kept a grudge against him. Thus, his signing here was met with a generally negative reaction.
Personally, I wasn’t thrilled at all with his addition, and I have maintained that opinion throughout this season. My negativity wasn’t because of his snubbing years ago, because I moved on a long time ago. I was upset because he is another small fragile player on the decline. He’s not helping the team’s balance, he’s worsening it. However, I was willing to give him a chance.
Safe to say, he’s far from meeting expectations. In 33 games so far this season (before Tuesday’s game against the Devils), he has seven goals and six assists. For a forward who is as one-dimensional as you can be, this is a rather big disappointment. I know he wasn’t expected to produce 70 points, but he was expected to tally around 50 points. The problem with the 5’9″ 174 lbs veteran is if he doesn’t produce offensively, he is completely useless since he doesn’t bring any physicality or any good defensive play. His poor play and low ice time has reportedly brought Bergevin to shop the diminutive forward, but he can’t expect to get anything good in return of a small 36 year old underachieving, fragile forward carrying a $4 million cap hit for another season.
The only silver lining to these mistakes for the Habs GM is two of those three players will be UFA’s at season’s end, and these two players are easy to bench also. As for the other player, he might be able to trade him to a desperate team, or buy him out. In any of these two options however, he will have to eat up a cap penalty by either retaining parts of the salary, or take the buyout penalty.
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(Photo source: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)