So the chips begin to fall.
There was an obvious hole in the line-up of players that hit the ice in Brossard Sunday morning as the Montreal Canadiens training camp got underway. There was actually two gaping holes.
Habs fans and media alike were probably not happy that All-Star defenseman PK Subban was absent from the first official practice of the upcoming shortened season, but he wasn’t the only person who wasn’t wearing a CH jersey or skates.
Also missing – forward Scott Gomez.
Apparently, sometime close to 07h30 this morning, new head coach Michel Therrien and new GM Marc Bergevin were taking care of business under the newly constructed CBA by relieving Scott Gomez of his duties as a Center with the club. The news was also relayed to team Captain Brian Gionta who apparently was instrumental in passing the information on to the rest of the team.
Although not pleasant news for Gionta, who has had deep and long lasting roots with Gomez over the years, this should really not come as a shock to fans throughout Quebec, or around the league – or even the players who wear the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.
The surprise for me came from Bergevin’s comments as to why the decision had come to fruition.
“With everything happening with the CBA being signed and the new rules, looking at all the options, it was clear to us that in dealing with the cap next season, we had to buyout Scott [Gomez’s] contract. The best and safest way for us to do that without him getting injured is to send him home, pay him his salary, and then buyout his contract in the summertime.” ~ Marc Bergevin
I completely agree that the league (and all the teams in it) have new concerns about the lowered Cap numbers for next year, and I also fully believe that this new CBA has given the Canadiens a huge opportunity to rectify a long, slow, bleeding wound that has haunted them since signing Gomez. But to make the following statement seems ludicrous to me.
“It has nothing to do with his game. This was a decision made for the best of the organization. We have to plan not just for one year, but for years to come.” ~ Marc Bergevin
Gomez has gone from being a forward to be reckoned with in 2009/’10, to an injured and non-performing over-expense.
In his inaugural season, Gomez topped the trifecta of players brought on board (Gionta and Cammalleri) during the off-season, with a 59 point season (12G, 47A) during 78 games of play. And he did it all under huge contract numbers. After that season – no complaints.
But things went south in a hurry, and soon the rumblings of the Montreal fan-base and media were heard. I didn’t agree with them in the 2010/’11 season when Gomez managed a mere 38 points (7G, 31A in 80 GP). I thought it was an off year with the potential to an underlying injury.
That all changed when he followed that up with an injury riddled year in 2011/’12, and the only numbers he could put up were 11 points for number 11 – in 38 games (2G, 9A).
So to say that getting rid of a cap hit on your roster of $7.3M has nothing to do with his performance sounds ridiculous to me. Almost as absurd as the rumblings coming out of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization these days in regards to Brian Burke being fired.
Yes – there is no way that the franchise wanted to hold on to such an expensive contract for two more seasons, but it is clearly related to the performance level of the player in question.
I hope nothing but the best for the future for Scott Gomez. I’ve been a fan of his for years, and supported him through many tough days here in Montreal, but at the end of the day, he has become a liability for the team and the franchise. But I don’t like the sugar coating. He is either finished in the league because there is an on-going injury, or he’s lost his touch.
Either way, his lack of performance is the clear reason why he’s being sent home for the shortened season, and being bought out in his final year. If he was an 80 point player – the contract numbers wouldn’t mean a thing and we’d be seeing number eleven on the ice for another two years.