Montreal Canadiens fans cannot be too happy right now. It has been nearly 24 hours since the NHL trade deadline officially passed, and Habs fans are still reeling over the fact that their GM did nothing to improve a club that is in serious danger of missing the playoffs in their centennial season.
Now, to be fair he did make some pre-deadline moves, bringing in defenseman Mathieu Schneider and snagging Glen Metropolit off waivers, but with Robert Lang unlikely to return Gainey failed to address the team’s biggest need right now: a big center that can put the puck in the net. Olli Jokinen fit the bill perfectly, and Gainey, who admitted that he stayed out of the fray and waited for other GMs to contact him, should have jumped in with both feet and made a big splash.
Perhaps he was looking at his team’s chances through rose tinted glasses, putting a little too much faith in the squad that had reeled off 4 straight victories leading up to the trade deadline. However, that particular run can be laid at the feet of one man: Jaroslav Halak. He stole those at least 4 of those 8 points for the Habs, who have looked anything but Stanley Cup contenders this season.
Does Gainey know something we don’t? In Montreal’s 100th season anything but a Stanley Cup championship will be considered a failure and by doing nothing at the deadline he basically implied that he believes the current Habs team is good enough to contend. How did his team reward him for his faith? By getting drubbed 5-1 by a team that was sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference before last night’s game.
Gainey has a lot of well-earned credit in the city of Montreal, but he is burning through it fast. Should the Canadiens suffer an early round playoff exit, or God forbid, fail to make the playoffs altogether, Gainey could see his days as the Canadiens bench boss end and his legendary status in the city of Montreal severely tarnished. It would be a sad ending for Gainey, but one that may just have become inevitable after yesterday’s inactivity.