So Habs GM Bob Gainey's big signing in the UFA sweepstakes was ...Georges Laraque.
No Mats. No Hossa. No problem.
While some in Montreal are all in a tizzy over the Habs striking out on Hossa and Sundin (possibly) - some even suggesting that the playing field needs to be equalled by giving Canadian teams more cap space - the fact is the Habs can be better than last year with this line up. If Mats does end up signing, it will be (barring injury blah blah blah).
Alex Tanguay is a HEE-Yuge improvement over Milk Carton Mike. Dance a dix is intact - thanks to a great deal with Big Tits - Gainey's best signing so far. Little Tits and maybe Tenderness occupy the third line wings, while Slowinski's 3rd line centre spot will hopefully be upgraded by My Boy Chips' emergence as a full-time NHLer - a centre that can get from point A to point B on the ice without the help of a walker. Laraque, all 6'3, 243-pounds of muscle, will be a welcome addition to a line up that relied on 6-foot 200-pound Greek Lightening to fight it's battles - yes, yes, Komo and Rhino are huge, but the team needs them on the ice, not the sin bin. The French interconnection Forth line (Bagin'/El Dandy/Mad Max/Georgy Boy) plus Greek Lightening is serviceable and can certainly play with the big boys - unlike the days when Patrick Poulin patrolled one of those wings.
On "D", nothing much had changed except for the loss of part time forward Swiss Mister. Arguably, his blueline spot presumably being taken by Rhino results in an upgrade in team defence, but that was not what the Swiss Mister was all about: the Habs are losing an integral part of their #1-in-the-league powerplay. And unlike last year after Sheldon Souray's departure, there does not appear to be any natural replacement. Only Markov is truely an offensive defencemen on this blueline (all due respect to Hamr, but those days are behind him). Anyone out there relying on the inevitable return of Breezer and his playoff point work? Didn't think so. In terms of minor league options, Mathieu Carle is probably a year away. Hopefully, as we at FHF dearly pray, the Subbanator grabs a roster spot - along with, presumably, most of the microphones in the dressing room. Of course, he's going to have to fight Georgy Boy for them.
So who's left? My pick would be Jason Williams, formerly of Chicago. He's a winger, but plays the point on the power play. He's relatively young at 27, and unlike Slowinski, has wheels on the ice. Plus, he would be a good addition to the 3rd line, allowing Tenderness to slip down to the 4th line - a kick in the ass that he needs, IMHO.
There's also Bryan Berard. To that, I say: In Gainey We Trust. Then again, I also called Slowinski a "journeyman" who Gainey wouldn't touch last off season - and that's why none of the FHF are NHL general managers. Just in case you were wondering.
Next week: Brushes with Habs' Greatness - Brent Bilodeau Edition (yes, seriously)