In the NHL, there are rumours and then, there are rumours involving the Montreal Canadiens. The later takes a life of its own and it’s no coincidence that the Habs are rumoured in just about everything. For one, players’ agents use the Canadiens as a negotiating method, particularly for free agents. Vincent Lecavalier and Daniel Brière both made a lot of money by “showing interest” in signing in Montreal. Then, some NHL teams like to ‘leak’ Montreal as a team interested, particularly when a French Canadian player is involved, to up the ante from other teams. In the meantime, Habs’ fans get excited, only to be let down in almost every case.
There is no doubt that there is truth to the rumour that Columbus Blue Jackets’ centre Pierre-Luc Dubois isn’t happy there anymore. While media outlets try to figure out why, they rapidly (perhaps too rapidly) dismiss the impact of John Tortorella‘s humiliating yelling match behind the Jackets’ bench last season. Of course Dubois will deny publicly, but one would have to be quite gullible to take that at face value. Think about it. Had Dubois said that the coach is the main reason why he wants out, what kind of reputation would he get, do you think? Of course he’ll say it’s not the reason. I’d say the same too, and so would anyone with half a brain, for cryin’ out loud! And don’t think for a second that his agent Pat Brisson didn’t counsel him on how to handle the situation.
Whether you believe or not that Tortorella is a reason for Dubois to want to leave, the fact remains that he does. And that could spell bad news for a team that was looking at building around him. They cannot miss on this one. If they trade him, they must get full value for the 22 year-old centre. Columbus is a team that traded for a centre this past off-season, acquiring Max Domi from the Canadiens. They sacrificed a lot to get him, giving away a very rare breed of power-forward in Josh Anderson.
In come the Habs
There is no doubt that Marc Bergevin is following the situation closely. There is absolutely no doubt that he is in constant contact with Columbus’ GM Jarmo Kekäläinen. That’s where our knowledge stops. We don’t know if players have been discussed or if offers have been made. We don’t know if teams aren’t being told a categoric no either.
If you recall back at the 2016 NHL Draft, Bergevin had the ninth overall pick and he was reportedly working on a deal with the Vancouver Canucks (5th overall) to swap picks. Bergevin was hoping that Dubois would be available at number five but that all came to a halt when Columbus surprised everyone by selecting him third overall. So you know that the interest from the Canadiens was there then. And it’s doubtful that it wouldn’t still be there now.
A steep price
It’s quite humourous to see fans – and even some media members – advancing trade suggestions including Phillip Danault, a pending UFA, and other unproven or second tier players. If that was a possibility, the deal would be consumed by this time. There is little doubt in my mind that trade discussions start with one of Nick Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Without one of them, Kekäläinen will likely politely decline. Bergevin will have to bite the bullet if he’s serious about acquiring Dubois. But because Dubois is more proven (older), the Habs will have to add. How much more is the question.
Personally, I don’t think that it’s worth overpaying for Dubois. Not that he’s not a great player. Not that he’s not playing a key position. And certainly not because he doesn’t have the talent or size. I really like what Bergevin is building right now. I like Suzuki and his two-way abilities. The same goes for how Kotkaniemi is developing. I love seeing the pipelines filled with quality prospects, particularly on defense. But there’s more…
The fans and media
Look how Jonathan Drouin is being treated by the fanbase and some of the media members. Some people will claim that it’s a one-off. No it’s not. Look how David Desharnais was being treated. Or how Patrice Brisebois was treated. Heck, when fans were booing Brisebois, then GM Bob Gainey even called those “fans” a bunch of yellow cowards, telling them to stay home, that the Habs didn’t need them!
It’s not all… look how Benoit Pouliot was treated. How about the seasons leading to Jose Theodore being traded? Do you remember how Mike Ribeiro was treated? How about Pierre Dagenais? Or perhaps Matthieu Dandenault? Or Yannick Perreault?
You get my drift. There is absolutely no reasons to believe that Dubois wouldn’t be treated the same. In fact, odds are that he would take the same flack from the same people. “We want more Quebecois“, they say. Why? You need punching bags that bad? Wake up and smell the roses, Habs’ fans and media. You can’t have shiny things because you don’t know how to take care of them! Oh it’s your right? Sure it is. But don’t come complaining. You reap what you sow. Can you imagine if Bergevin was to overpay to get Dubois? I’d rather not think about it. Go Habs Go!