The question has been uttered a million times by as many people over the last few weeks.
What should we do with Erik Cole?
Apparently, unbeknownst to us, Mr. Bergevin has had the answer waiting in the wings, and today we became aware of it. In what I believe was unexpected to most Montreal fans, Erik Cole found himself once again packing his suitcase to head to another town. This time – Dallas.
The reward returning in our favour? Ex Montreal Canadien, Michael Ryder. Not to mention a third round pick in the next NHL entry draft. Marc Bergevin clearly came to Montreal with a vision and plan in mind, and he is keeping to that plan.
Cole has struggled since the beginning of this season, and has never seemingly turned it around. No one was sure if it was a lack of desire to play the game at all anymore, or if the overhaul to the franchise might be playing a card in the factor. Cole was heard several times saying that he felt that he was finished after this season, so it seemed that there was a lack of drive moving forward. Perhaps the lockout played a deeper role in some players than we thought.
It’s a shame in many ways when you consider the fashion in which Cole burst onto the scene here in Montreal last year. He seemed to be the cog in the system that we were lacking. Size, mobility and speed. Unafraid to head to the dirtiest areas of the ice, driving to the blue paint.
But that all disappeared this season. His heart seemed deflated, his body slow, his desire gone.
So we did what needed done with Erik Cole. We parted ways. And in his stead we will see a familliar face don le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge. Michael Ryder returns after being away for 5 years.
I for one, was elated to hear this news. Yes it’s a bitter farewell to Cole – who I have utmost respect for in every possible way. But in honesty – I never wanted Ryder to go in the first place. He has great size and speed, and in my opinion, some serious hockey skills if he’s utilized appropriately.
There’s no doubt that his original stint with Montreal came as a result of his relationship with Claude Julien. He had been coached under Julien in both the Juniors and in the AHL. Another likely reason that he chose Boston, when his contract was not renewed by the Canadiens in 2008.
But he’s a solid winger who over three seasons with La Flanelle managed to amass 76 goals and 70 assists in 144 games played. Those aren’t numbers to shrug a shoulder at. He also gained those numbers under a coaching and management team that was playing the wrong system for the players they had in the roster.
No one can argue there was a decline in his play here over the last year of his tenure, but one has to keep in mind where this franchise was heading at that time. Bob Gainey was at the helm not only of the organization, but causing turmoil behind the bench as he himself coached 57 games. He had tight reigns on Guy Carbonneau throughout, and (once again) in my opinion, nearly ruined this franchise.
With the re-introduction of Ryder into the line-up, several things change. We get more youth (by a touch), we get more desire, we get more skill set, and we get a player who is going to be allowed to play within his skill set based on the Canadiens new system. We also have a smaller salary to contend with while picking up another great draft position for the future.
Anyone who believes that Marc Bergevin didn’t have a plan for this franchise heading forward should currently be bowing their head in shame. Things are changing here in Montreal, and for the better.
Welcome home Michael Ryder ….