Begin the End, Montreal

To be completely up front with you, I’m a Leaf fan.

But far beyond that, I’m a hockey fan. I enjoy seeing hockey clubs do exciting things like signing free agents, making trades that are high-risk high-reward, and even pulling the odd rip-the-bandaid-off-because-this-will-really-suck-but-it’s-for-the-best kind of deal.

What I don’t like so much, is watching franchises consistently mishandle their assets, disregard their fan-base, and frankly, waste everybody’s time and money.

Yes. This is exactly what I’m saying the Montreal Canadiens are guilty of, and they need to do something about it immediately. Do something like stop messing around and tear it down. I have a great idea where they can start.

Being a Leaf fan doesn’t mean I have to hate on the Habs, just like being a Messi fan doesn’t mean I can’t see Ronaldo’s quality. We’re always trying to be impartial over here at The Rival Sports. For the purpose of this write-up I will however, be hating on the Habs. The method is to show you where to start selling this thing off for (younger) parts.

Exhibit #1: Carey Price

Now, before you stop reading, consider that as a Habs fan, you must love this guy. Doesn’t that mean you want the best for him? Do you honestly believe in your heart of hearts that he’s destined to be a winner in Montreal? If it’s up to me, I’m giving our man a one-way ticket to the world of possibility.

Now at age 30, and signed for an eternity, there are only a few teams that would be in the running to acquire his services. A young team with available draft picks in order to satisfy Montreal’s asking price, (which would be hefty). Only one team in my mind fits this bill. They have a need, they have the youth, and if there’s one place Price would like to play if it’s not Montreal, it would be out West.

The Calgary Flames.

Mike Smith is a UFA after this season, and at 36 years old and having his share of injury troubles, will be a long-shot to be re-signed. Think of Carey Price backstopping a lineup of Johnny Hockey, Sean Monahan, James Neal, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie. With a couple other moves for Calgary this would put their club over the top and be a lock for the playoffs every year. Inconsistent goaltending has been the Flames’ problem since the departure of Mikka Kiprusoff. A more suitable landing spot, I couldn’t imagine. Let’s make it happen, for the good of everyone, even the Leafs, (I had to).

What would it take to get him?

A lot. High picks, established roster player, and a couple of prospects.

Exhibit #2: Max Pacioretty

Captain Canadien. Your bluest of chips, perennial 30-goal scorer would be the absolute obvious place to start. Coming off a down year by his standards, that shouldn’t be enough to sour any potential suitors’ opinion of him at all. The trouble is, will Marc Bergevin come to his senses and pull the trigger on what would get them a good haul? In his defense, he did at least try.

Pacioretty is due $4.5-million for the 2018/2019 season and is a UFA the next season where he’s due for a large pay increase a-la JVR in Philly. Whoever looks to acquire him would be paying him in the range of $7-7.5-million. This is a fee that the LA Kings were willing to pay until they chose 35-year-old free agent forward Ilya Kovalchuk on a 3-year $6.2-million contract this off-season.

What would it take in return?

A young roster player
high-end prospect
couple of draft picks (maybe a 1st included or two 2nd)

Why trade him now?

He’s 29 years old and not part of the next wave of youth. Montreal needs to recognize this and ship him out while he’s still very serviceable and can get the largest return. It’s as simple as that.

Possible trade partners: Colorado, Edmonton, New Jersey

As much as I’ve passionately rooted against the Habs my whole life, I do want them to be good. Most of all, I want the best players in the world to be treated properly and to have success. Montreal is obviously one of the most storied franchises in sports, and this mismanagement of the team has put their biggest and best in a terrible position. The Canadiens are not twisting themselves out of this one without doing a rebuild properly. Too much time and too much has been unfortunately wasted, and it’s time to accept that and do the right thing, for everyone’s sake.

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