The Montreal Canadiens won’t tank.
Nor should they.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman thinks differently.
“I think if you’re the Canadiens now you’re punting on the season, you’re all in on Shane Wright,” said Friedman on The Jeff Marek Show on the Fan590 in Toronto.
It would be a dream for the Canandiens to acquire a talent like Shane Wright. Selecting first overall when the draft is in your city, is beguiling. Maybe it happens, but it won’t be the result of deliberate losing.
The notion is ridiculous, there’s still 75 games remaining.
The popular narrative is that teams who have gone through a “rebuild,” have had great success. It isn’t true. For all the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup stories, there’s the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, Arizona Coyotes, New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers of the world.
It breeds a loser’s mentality.
Not only that, you’re also far from assured to get the first overall selection.
Last place gets a slightly better than 25 per cent chance to land the pick. That’s a full season down the tubes for a 75 per cent chance of NOT drafting Shane Wright.
The second overall pick could end up being a franchise player, but how’d things work out for the Buffalo Sabres when they did everything in their power to lose and got the consolation prize of Jack Eichel.
He’ll soon be out of Buffalo; the Sabres haven’t made the playoffs in ten years.
Montreal has recently gone through two extremely challenging seasons, didn’t win the lottery but still got to draft third overall. Those long losing seasons resulted in drafting Alex Galchelnyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Both were disappointments.
The worst part of going down this road… It makes you a loser. How can a team build a winning culture if management wants them to lose? Everyone remembers Maple Leafs’ head coach Mike Babcock saying that before the team was going to be able to compete, “there’s going to be pain.” The pain stings even more now for that franchise, than it did back then.
Players will never lose on purpose. They have too much pride and many are fighting for contracts and their jobs in the NHL. It’s hard to ask a coach to lose on purpose, they have a short shelf-life.
Management has the power to throw the team an anchor or a lifejacket. Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin could throw neither and let them sink on their own… But an anchor is out of the question.