So far in the NHL off season, the three most significant events have been Tampa Bay General Manager Steve Yzerman’s belief that his team is good enough to win it all now, shown by his signing of three of his top stars to long term contracts; the trade of Taylor Hall by Edmonton to New Jersey; and Montreal trading P. K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber, a swap of top defensemen.
From Nashville’s point of view, they are trading an old veteran who cannot get any better for a much younger player who has the potential to improve. They think they have won the trade for that reason.
But to Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin, Subban was the up-front reason why Montreal missed the playoffs. The Canadiens started out like a house on fire and raced to the top of the standings in both conferences. Then Montreal goaltender Carey Price got injured and the team plummeted for the remainder of the season until it dropped out of playoff contention altogether.
Several conclusions can be made. First is the over-dependence of the team on Price and the inability of any of the Montreal goaltender backups to either fill his shoes or to inspire the team to rally around them. There would be no Matt Murray to the rescue like there was in Pittsburgh.
Second was the inability of the coaching staff and the management to either find a worthy replacement for Price or to rally and inspire the team to make up for his loss. And third was the lack of leadership on the team itself to find a rallying point to carry the team forward despite trying circumstances. It is for this reason that Subban was made the culprit.
Bergevin must have believed that Subban was one of the leaders of the Canadiens and his spiritual failure to be the rallying point during the team’s free fall made him a star player of limited value. What he sees in acquiring Weber and also signing Andrew Shaw is that if Price gets injured again, there will be players who have the inner steel to keep the team’s head above water and not panic.
Bergevin had better be right. Subban was a popular player in Montreal and his trade for the much older Weber raises many questions about Montreal’s future and the decisions for the trade.
Do you blame the team’s collapse on the lack of leadership by the team’s star players and have you picked the right one to trade? Is Subban merely a scapegoat for coach Michel Therrien’s inability to rally the team and Bergevin’s inability to sign a competent backup goaltender during the previous off season or make a trade for one after Price got hurt? Why should Subban be traded when he does not play the position that Price plays? Why did Montreal build a team that was overly-dependent on its goaltender?
In making such a controversial trade, Bergevin is putting both Therrien’s and his own future on the line. Because if Montreal remains in the doldrums and Subban flourishes in Nashville, there will be questions raised about the leadership of the team and this time the players will not be the focus of it.
Subban for Weber will either be viewed as a wise decision or rank with the misuse and departure of Patrick Roy – the last time Montreal won the Stanley Cup.