Gauthier: An Impactful Period for the Montreal Canadiens

This text was initially written in December, 2013.

Trying again on the common supervisor (GM) Pierre Gauthier period offers Montreal Canadiens followers a reminder of a turbulent time for the Habs within the new century. Gauthier took over the place from a grieving Bob Gainey who had misplaced his daughter in a tragic accident at sea. Gainey left Gauthier with a roster that had certified for the playoffs 5 of his seven years as GM and made the Japanese Convention Ultimate as soon as. 

Pierre Gauthier (THW Archives)

The roster Gauthier inherited had its flaws because it was nonetheless led by Scott Gomez at heart, a number of undersized forwards in an NHL that also had not adopted the pace fashion followers take pleasure in immediately and lacked a high quality prospect pool as Gainey’s draft report was lower than stellar.

The Halak Commerce

In Gauthier’s period, the one commerce that may depart followers speaking for many years to come back was his determination to commerce fan darling, Jaroslav Halak. The previous ninth-round decide of the Canadiens had been sharing the crease with the long run franchise goaltender, Carey Value. What made this commerce so polarizing was that it got here simply weeks after Halak had backstopped the Canadiens to the 2010 Japanese Convention Ultimate.

Jaroslav Halak took the NHL by storm early within the 2010 playoffs. (mark6mauno/Flickr)

Each Halak and Value have been to be restricted free brokers (RFA) that summer season and a choice needed to be made on who to maintain because the Habs beginning goalie for the long run. The 20-year-old Value had the pedigree and the uncooked talent however hadn’t discovered his rhythm but within the NHL posting a report of 13 wins, 20 losses, 5 extra time losses (OTL) and a 2.77 goals-against common (GAA). In the meantime, Halak had received over the followers along with his stellar performances that season having began 43 video games, posting 26 wins, 23 losses, 5 OTL and a 2.40 GAA. Halak then loved a playoff efficiency for the ages.

Value has confirmed able to being the starter a crew can depend on, turning into the wins chief with the Canadiens’ franchise and twenty third in NHL historical past with 348 wins as of the NHL pause in 2020. Regardless of good profession statistics, Halak has turn into a journeyman goaltender who has solely began 50 video games in a season twice in his profession.

Gauthier selected to maintain Value and commerce Halak, the Canadiens’ participant of the 12 months. Habs followers on social media flamed on the determination. With the 2010 determination recent of their minds, many followers have been indignant, and a few stay so to this very day regardless of historical past proving Gauthier’s determination that, in the long term, proved to be the right selection. 

Gauthier’s Commerce Historical past With Montreal

Very similar to the Habs present GM, Marc Bergevin, Gauthier was a shrewd deal maker who favored to “win” the trades he made, but had not been keen or in a position to “lose” a commerce to be able to fill crew wants.  As famous above, his largest commerce concerned Halak; in return, he acquired St. Louis Blues heart prospect Lars Eller. Eller grew to become a wonderful third-line heart, nonetheless, the necessity was for a confirmed large physique top-six heart, a necessity that continues immediately.

Lars Eller Canadiens
Lars Eller (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

One other impactful commerce was the acquisition of defenceman James Wisniewski in return for a second and fifth-round choice. The “Wiz” was an excellent addition to the Canadiens’ blue line and energy play (PP). His 4 targets and 12 assists helped the Habs earn the NHLs seventh-best energy play in 2010-2011. On the finish of the 2010-11 season, Wisniewski’s rights have been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets as his contract calls for have been too excessive for Gauthier. He ultimately signed a six-year deal price $5.5 million on the cap. He was purchased out on June 30, 2016. 

In return, the Canadiens acquired a fifth-round decide in 2012 which was used to pick winger Charles Hudon. Hudon has been in a position to turn into a high quality AHL participant who can produce nice offensive numbers, however he has had difficulties translating his abilities to the NHL recreation. He stays on the Canadiens roster, but he’s set to turn into an RFA in July 2020.

Charles Hudon #54 of the Montreal Canadiens
Charles Hudon #54 (Picture by Francois Lacasse/NHLI through Getty Photographs)

Gauthier made draft offers as effectively, buying and selling as much as choose the mountainous Jarred Tinordi. That deal, on the time, was heralded as transfer because the Canadiens wanted dimension and physicality of their lineup as they have been thought-about small and tender. Nonetheless, with the NHL shifting to a extra speed-based recreation, Tinordi’s lack of mobility had confirmed to be a detriment to his capability to stay within the NHL. The Canadiens later traded him to the Arizona Coyotes and he’s now along with his fourth NHL group, the Nashville Predators.

A Sequence of Debacles

Early within the 2011-12 season, the desperation to compete compelled Gauthier’s hand. He traded an inexpensive and serviceable second-pairing defender in Jaroslav Spacek to accumulate the previous Toronto Maple Leafs star Tomas Kaberle from the Carolina Hurricanes. Gauthier hoped including Kaberle might give the Habs’ energy play a lift and assist a struggling Canadiens climb again right into a playoff place.

Kaberle did assist increase the person benefit, scoring 1 purpose and 11 assists with the additional man. The problem was his play at even energy, as he had turn into a defensive legal responsibility. His age seemingly had caught as much as him, inflicting a lack of foot pace, which is what he had relied upon to make his rushes and get again into defensive place. His $4.5 million per 12 months contract had two years remaining. It was a determined gamble as Spacek’s deal was an expiring contract price $3.833 million per season. Including Kaberle meant including thousands and thousands, which proved to be a whole waste of cap house. Proving the choice so as to add Kaberle to be an enormous error in judgment, Bergevin rectified the state of affairs by utilizing one of many two compliance buyouts allowed beneath the Collective Bargaining Settlement after the 2012-12 lockout. 

The opposite debacle was one which followers have but to forgive Gauthier for, the Mike Cammalleri commerce. Cammalleri was one in all Gainey’s key UFA acquisitions in 2009 and had turn into a top-line winger for the Canadiens in addition to a playoff hero for his 13 targets in 19 video games of the 2010 playoff run to the Japanese Convention Ultimate. The debacle wasn’t simply the return Gauthier negotiated with the Calgary Flames, it was the circumstances of the commerce.

Mike Cammalleri
Mike Cammalleri (Icon SMI)

Throughout the 2011-12 season, the Canadiens had a troublesome time successful video games or enjoying with any consistency. Cammalleri blasted his crew when he acknowledged:

“I can’t settle for that we are going to show a shedding perspective as we’re doing this 12 months, we put together for our video games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no marvel why we lose.”

Mike Cammalleri

One week later, Cammalleri was traded, however that wasn’t the shock. The shock was that, in the course of the second intermission of an eventual loss to the Boston Bruins, he was pulled from the sport and instructed to return to the crew resort and await directions. The unceremonious method through which he was traded was a difficulty, and the way in which Gauthier handled Cammalleri in the course of the commerce additionally grew to become an inside subject. After Cammalleri was traded he had requested to maintain his Canadiens sweater. It has been reported that Gauthier instructed him he might preserve it, however provided that he paid $1250 for it himself. (from ‘NHL Draft: Habs decide third,’ Montreal Gazette, 04/11/2012)

Gauthier’s Canadiens Draft Picks 

In Gauthier’s two draft lessons on the helm of the Canadiens, he was in a position to choose two gamers that impacted the Habs lineup for any period of time. His 2011 first-round choice was defenceman Nathan Beaulieu who ultimately performed 225 NHL video games over 5 seasons for the Canadiens, and solely a kind of in an everyday top-four position.

Nathan Beaulieu (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The opposite impactful choice was an undersized fifth-round decide. Brendan Gallagher was seen as a protracted shot to make the NHL, however as followers have come to see, his willpower and coronary heart performed a significant factor in his ascendance into the Canadiens coronary heart and soul participant. He has performed 547 NHL video games over eight seasons. His a number of 30-plus purpose seasons have occurred with out vital energy play time. His constant in-your-face fashion on each shift is what makes him a key part of the Canadiens lineup.

Trying Again on Gauthier

Gauthier is now not part of the Canadiens administration group, and Canadiens followers are grateful for that. That being stated, his work over his quick tenure continues to be felt immediately. His determination to maintain Value over Halak and his draft number of Gallagher are tangible reminders of that point. 

Regardless of that, Gauthier’s time is seen as a failure. His method to the gamers within the room, the press and the followers led to his downfall. It may be a warning to anybody following in his position as Canadiens GM.

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