Habs face Blue Jackets; Team loses two Francophones UPDATE 1:30: LINE-UP NOTES

Like most people in this city, I found out about the Guillaume Latendresse trade as I got home from work. Naturally, one of the first things I did was turn on RDS, the French version of TSN in Quebec, to hear more about the trade and reactions from the so-called ''experts''.

To my dismay, I was brought to near-disgust with the first words that came out of anchor-woman Chantale Macabé's big fat horse mouth to open Sports 30, RDS's version of Sportscenter.

''Un autre Québecois quitte le Canadien.''

To save you the trip to Google Translate, in English, this means ''Another Quebecer leaves the Canadiens.''.

I seriously couldn't believe my ears. Not even a complete hour after the trade was announced, and they're already making a political issue. And it continued throughout RDS's Habs coverage throughout the night. Throughout Sports 30, the mood was somber, almost like a funeral. Later on during L'Attaque à cinq, RDS's ''talking heads'' type of show that features a plethora of Francophone media personalities bitching about the team, half of the ''experts'' looked as if they had been brought to tears before the show went on the air.

And while some of them brought up the language issue, and others merely implied it, the underlying tones were there. It's clear that the matter of trading Guillaume Latendresse to the Minnesota Wild for Benoit Pouliot is not going to be about hockey. It's not going to be about Guillaume's inability to play under Jacques Martin's system. It's not going to be about how he wasn't willing to work hard to earn his chances, about how he didn't want to listen to Martin. It's going to be about how Guillaume's a Francophone, and how Benoit Pouliot, despite the Francophone name, is from Ontario.

It's remarkable how the French media can take what was an obvious move that needed to happen, and make it into something that it doesn't need to be. Guillaume was overrated. Guillaume was mismanaged. And Guillaume simply didn't fit on this team anymore. And despite wherever he comes from, and whatever language he spoke, he simply ran out his welcome as a Montreal Canadien.

And partially, people in the media, like Francois Gagnon, who went on the radio today and said that he really liked Guillaume Latendresse, like Jacques Demers, who was choked up talking about the trade on RDS last night, or Tony Marinaro, who despite criticizing Guillaume, says his son was a big Guillaume fan and that the team does need Francophones (it does, but irregardless..), these people need to take a look at themselves, and what they've written about this kid over the years, how he was one of the fastest skaters at camp and how he can be an incredible powerfoward and how he can score 30 goals, and all that, and realize that they're certainly to blame for the way this situation transpired.

But this isn't only the media's fault for overrating him. Guillaume deserves a big share of the blame himself. Cancelling power skating sessions multiple summers in a row. Showing he'd rather do magazine shoots and hang out with his buddy Maxime than work on improving his game. And this kid's cocky spoiled attitude showed last night in interviews.

Within an hour of being traded. Guillaume was exclaiming that he was relieved. That he was never given his fair shot. "When you come to the rink and see your name pencilled into the second line and you know that after two shifts you'll be back on the fourth line if you make a mistake, it's tough to deal with," he said in a post-trade interview, when the fact of the matter is that he was given plenty of shots, and just because he wasn't playing with Gomez and Cammalleri, that doesn't mean that he was excused to play like a 4th liner, when he was clearly on what was expected to be a scoring line with his buddy Maxime and Matt D'Agostini.

If you make mistakes, you're going to be demoted. If you don't play the system, and if you don't show the will to play the system, then you're going to get traded. And Guillaume got what was coming to him.

But once again, you can't completely blame Guillaume. Clearly, he was mis-handled by the organization. Clearly, he was brought into the team way too early, and clearly, he needed to play in the AHL before coming to the big league. Clearly, achieving success very early on in his career, and signing a contract that guaranteed him an $850k salary for three years got to his head. And that's on the organization for not mentoring him and not handling him properly.

I do wish Guillaume luck in Minnesota, he can be a good player, and who knows, he could be the next Mike Ribeiro. But this chapter of his career is over, and the page simply needed to be turned. Let's all just hope that Jacques Demers gets over it, and Maxime doesn't kill himself over his little buddy moving to Minnesota.



Ok, I admit it got a little ranty there. But hey, we're all allowed to vent once in a while.

Still, there's a game tonight, a game that promises to actually be pretty good, despite the fact that the Habs' only Francophone players will be Maxime Lapierre and Marc-Andre Bergeron, with Latendresse gone and Georges Laraque suspended for 5 games (more on that in yesterday's blog, not much more to say about it other than I have no problem with the length of the suspension).

The Habs won't get to see young goalie Steve Mason, as last season's breakout rookie played last night in New York, where the Rangers shallacked the Blue Jackets 7-4. And really, last night's game summed up Steve Mason's sophomore year. To say that he was slumping would be an understatement. After posting a 2.29GAA and a .916SVP in 61 games last year, stats that not only led the Jackets to their first ever playoff berth, but also Mason to a Calder trophy victory and a Vezina trophy nomination, Mason has slipped and fallen hard. In 17 games for the Jackets this year, mason has a 3.59 GAA and a .885SVP, despite being 8-5 on the season. He's allowed 4 or more goals 7 times this season, including 8 goals in a recent 9-1 game against Detroit.

Kind of ironic, when fans were quick to jump on the Mason bandwagon last season. These same fans were the ones that called Carey Price the next Jim Carey, the next big goaltending bust in the league. Price's stats speak for themselves, and I've spoken for him enough early in the season.

Either way, tonight, Mathieu Garon makes his return to Montreal. The former back-up for the Habs has been bounced around several teams since he was traded out of Montreal years ago, but he's seemed to have found a cozy role as the back-up for the Jackets. He'll be looking to have a big game, as to most former Habs and most Quebecois players.

No word on lines for the Habs yet, although you would expect Price to start in goal and for the Cammalleri - Plekanec - Kostitsyn line to remain intact. Sergei Kostitsyn will finally make his season debut tonight.

JT Wyman has also been called up from Hamilton. Gomez and Spacek are out.



Goals: Cammalleri (11) Nash (14)
Assists: Plekanec (17) Vermette(13)
Points: Plekanec (22) Nash (25)
Pluys/Minus: Cammalleri (+9) Voracek (+5)
Time on Ice: Hamrlik (25:12 per game) Tyutin (23:08 per game)
PIMs: Mara(35) Boll (54)



- Steve Kerley on the Blue Jackets at Habs Inside/Out.

- ESPN feature on Benoit Pouliot, thanks to Habs Inside/Out.

- Gazette: Pat Hickey on Guillaume trade.

- Gazette: Laraque gets 5 games.

- Game on TSN and TSN HD tonight at 7:30

Thread will be updated with breaking news and notes.

Enjoy the game,



Habsinsideout.com's Pat Hickey has confirmed that Carey Price will get his 6th consecutive start. No surprise there, only question is whether he'll get his 7th tomorrow.

As for the lines, both Sergei Kostitysn will play tonight thanks to the gaps left by Latendresse and Laraque. It's looking like they will dress alongside Kyle Chipchura on the 4th line.

With Spacek out, Gorges is paired with Hamrlik, Bergeron with Mara and O'Byrne with Leach.


Gorges - Hamrlik
Mara - Bergeron
O'Byrne - Leach



More to come