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Enough About Moore and Co.

May 10, 2011, 11:27 AM ET [ Comments]
Habs Talk
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I can't say there aren't certain discussions I grow tired of as the season moves along. "Why didn't the Canadiens keep Dominic Moore" is the tip of lament in a conversation that includes Sergei Kostitsyn, Mikhail Grabovski, Matt D'Agostini and even Ryan O'Byrne. I have trouble understanding why anyone would contemplate these decisions as the main component of evaluating the job Canadiens management has done over the last few seasons.

It's not to say the Canadiens shouldn't have kept Moore. After all, he played a vital role in the team's success last spring with two huge contributions in Game Sevens against Washington and Pittsburgh. But people often ignore the order of priority as it pertains to signing free agents, and they also ignore the fact that depth players are interchangeable depending on what you've already done.

On June 17th, 2010, the Canadiens traded Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. Eller immediately became a part of the Canadiens' plan.

There are a number of factors that likely placed Moore on the outside of that plan. For example: knowing they'd have three left-handed centres may have persuaded them to seek out a right-handed centreman; one with a better faceoff pedigree than Max Lapierre owned.

When it comes to the team's depth, decisions are made towards the end of summer, or in the quiet period of free agency. Hence Moore was signed on July 30th by the Lightning. Hence Halpern was signed on September 7th, when the team felt it could use a bit more depth, even after acquiring Dustin Boyd in the trade that sent Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville. Hence Mathieu Darche was given a one-way contract for the first time in his career, and gave the Canadiens more than they bargained for.

On Kostitsyn, no one ever denied what kind of talent he had. Anyone who followed his story closely enough knows he was sent from Montreal because they couldn't exact the necessary desperation out of his play, and he had become a distraction in the locker room. If there's one thing the Canadiens have been consistent about under Gainey/Gauthier, it's been that they don't hold onto players that put themselves above the team.

Kostitsyn needed the extra incentive to prove everyone in Montreal wrong, and the trade to Nashville provided him with that incentive. Good for him for playing well, but saying the Canadiens should've been more patient with a player they gave every opportunity he earned (and even some he didn't earn) is ridiculous. They traded him despite knowing he'd enjoy some success in Nashville.

Neither he nor Moore would've made the difference in Montreal's playoff drive this season. Not to say they weren't capable of helping, but to say they were the missing components is off-base.

Mikhail Grabovski became a father, and ultimately began treating his job like a job instead of a hobby. The coaches in Toronto rave about him being a student of the game who's consistently focused on improving. Good for him (and I mean that sincerely).

Unfortunately, he never indicated to the Canadiens that he was on his way to becoming that kind of player or person.

Ryan O'Byrne? Matt D'Agostini?

The Canadiens had plenty of players that would've made the difference between a win and a loss in Game 7 against the Bruins.

Markov, Gorges, Pacioretty and Desharnais weren't available to them when it mattered most, and they'd have made as much, if not more of a difference than any of the players mentioned above.

In the end, decisions are based on how smaller parts fit the bigger puzzle. It's easy to review in hindsight and say this was wrong, or this was right, but I doubt the Canadiens are losing any sleep over the depth decisions they made last summer--nor should they.

Their team, by all accounts, was better suited for playoff success this year than they were last. Ultimately, they don't make it as far, but they aren't in a worse position because they don't have Kostitsyn, O'Byrne, D'Agostini, Lapierre, Moore or Metropolit. They aren't in a worse position at all. And people should keep that in mind when they harp on the how the Canadiens elect to spend their money-- and that's not to say they're beyond reproach (see trade for Scott Gomez).
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