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Montreal Canadiens

Gallo: Habs can’t “punt” the season; losers’ mentality

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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.

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CranbrookEd

Absolutely! There should not (nor will there) be an attempt to tank. Any “sniff” of such a ploy would not turn out well for the team or for that matter, the league”. That an “insider” even mentions such a thing, is odd . . . to say the least!

Given his usage, I am not sure about Kotkaniemi being a disappointment. If he had been allowed to “develop” for another year in Finland and then another year in the AHL, he would have been better equipped to deal with the requirements of the old school coaching staff. Instead, he was thrown to the wolves by “making the team” and then not being allowed to make mistakes while “developing” . . .

Albert Vanular

I disagree with many parts of this article. To begin with, everyone says Galchenyuk was a disappointment but he played 418 games with the Habs notching 108 goals and 256 points not including playoffs. Galchenyuk started to slide after he was traded to Arizona for Max Domi who had an excellent season in Montreal. Domi was then traded for Josh Anderson who played a big part in Habs run to SC Final. As for Kotkaniemi, the jury is still out as its way too early to say but KK was traded for Christian Dvorak who looks like he could be a good player.
I also disagree that tanking breeds a loser’s mentality. Ask Pittsburgh how well tanking worked for them by winning 3 Cups in the last 12 years with Crosby and Malkin. Ditto for Tampa Bay getting Stamkos, LA Kings getting Drew Doughty and Chicago getting Kane and Towes. Any team that can add Shane Wright in the draft will almost certainly improve their fortunes dramatically.

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