You have players who leave their talking on the ice, as it’s the case with guys like Shea Weber and Carey Price, amongst others. But in any league, you have people who, when things aren’t going their way, prefer stirring things off the ice. Some come straight out and say what they think, others are going at it in a more subtle way. But in Montreal, is there really a subtle way to do things?
It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens grew tired of the off-ice antics (and on-ice as well) of fan favourite P.K. Subban. The talented and popular defenseman ended up being traded to Nashville in a trade that, at the time, created tons of controversy amongst the fan base and media alike. At the time, it became clear that GM Marc Bergevin would not tolerate players whose actions showed that they were bigger than the team and in return, he got what he wanted. With the exception of bringing in a championship (which is a team accomplishment), Weber has been everything that he was advertised for, and more. Subban has since been traded by the Predators for a fraction of the price, and his game has gone down the drain.
Just recently, Habs’ fans were reminded of a players’ agent who loved controversy and created quite the wave 10 years ago. In the midst of the controversy regarding the utilisation of the Canadiens’ goaltenders, and unsatisfied with the use of Jaroslav Halak, Allan Walsh tweeted his clients’ statistics in comparison to Carey Price’s. It didn’t take more to stir quite the story in Montreal and Halak ended up being traded to the St. Louis Blues, the Canadiens preferring to deal with then troubled child Price than with a player whose agent was trying to make them look bad.
Walsh has since done more of the same in a few occasions and just recently, he placed another one of his clients, Marc-André Fleury, in a very awkward position. The controversial agent tweeted the following photoshopped picture after Vegas Golden Knights coach decided to give the net to Robin Lehner:
Not wanting to be a distraction to the Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury asked his agent to remove a controversial tweet that suggested coach Peter DeBoer had stabbed the goalie in the back. “I’ve known these guys for a while now and I don’t know, I just want to put this behind and move on,” Fleury said. “All I care about is winning and what’s best for the team, and they know that.”
Max Domi subtility
Without a word to the media, Canadiens’ forward Max Domi created a similar stir when fans noticed that he had removed any ties to the Montreal Canadiens off his social media accounts Twitter and Instagram.
Domi, an avid social media user, had identified as a player of the Canadiens on both accounts as soon as he got traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Habs. He has since been very vocal as to how happy he was to be in Montreal. He went as far as convincing his father, Tie, a former Maple Leafs, to wear the Habs’ uniform!
After an initial season of 28 goals and 72 points, Domi has struggled this season with 17 goals, good for 44 points only. Suffering from Type-1 diabetes, the centre/left-winger took some time to think before joining the team in this COVID Cup playoffs and when he did, he was pinned as the fourth line centre, a situation that left many fans and media members puzzled, to say the least. At first, people thought that it was because he needed time to get back into shape, have started about 10 days after his teammates but in the Philadelphia series, he was still penciled in that same spot.
Young guys taking over
Out of team necessity, Domi played at the centre position most of his first season in Montreal. With the breakout of Nick Suzuki, Domi found himself playing the wing more often. As his production wasn’t what it was the previous season, many speculated that he wasn’t happy to return to the wing.
In these playoffs, young Jesperi Kotkaniemi made huge strides and earned himself a position at centre and with Phillip Danault solidly anchored at the centre position, it left no room for the Canadiens’ number 13 at that position on top nine.
In these qualifiers and playoffs, Domi managed a disappointing 3 points in 10 games, all of which came in the same game, a 5-0 victory over the Flyers. When, after game five of the series, Brendan Gallagher was put out of commission with a broken jaw, Domi was given an opportunity. With more quality ice time, many hoped that he would step up to the plate. That didn’t happen and the Canadiens were sent packing.
The rumour mill
It didn’t more to get the rumour mill going in Montreal and we know what that’s like. Some are talking Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona, others are pointing at the Calgary Flames.
Mrs. Vaillancourt states that she has heard rumours that Bergevin was in talk with the Calgary Flames for Johnny Gaudreau. In return, the Habs would send Domi, Ryan Poehling and a first round pick to Calgary. Take a deep breath folks. For one, Bergevin NEVER leaks talks with other GMs and neither does his staff. Secondly, there is no way that he would pay that price for Gaudreau.
But rest assured, a simple action like removing any affiliation to the Canadiens is enough to get things stirring in Montreal. Rumours will be rampant and only time will tell if there’s any substance behind it but Domi, a pending RFA, could sign an offer sheet with whichever team he wants to. If he truly wants to leave though, this would not be the smart thing to do as the Habs have tons of cap space and could easily match the offer. By rule, the Canadiens could not trade him within the first year of his contract, so if Domi wants to leave, the offer-sheet is not the way to go as he would be stuck with the Canadiens. Go Habs Go!