Whitby - Nov. 4, 2011 - The Montreal Canadiens are riding a modest three-game winning streak heading into tonight’s matchup against the surging Ottawa Senators. The Senators have won six-of-their-last-seven games. Last weekend, the Canadiens completed a home-and-home series sweep of the 2010-11 NHL Stanley Cup Champions, the Boston Bruins.
There have been rumours in media scrums this past week that Habs’ veteran centreman Scott Gomez may be ready for game action sometime this weekend whether it be in Ottawa or Manhatten. Please say it isn’t so!
Why would Jacques Martin toil with an already successful and proven lineup? Oh wait I forgot, it’s Jacques Martin. This is a man who doesn’t believe in giving icetime to those players that deserve it. Scott Gomez does not deserve icetime. He has not proven himself from last year and in six games to date in this 2011-12 NHL regular season, he has a grand total of, wait for it…one stinkin’ assist!
The Canadiens have been successful without the services of this albatross we have come to know as Scott Gomez. Since October 20, Gomez has been sitting on the sidelines nursing an upper body injury sustained against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
I challenged myself to write an opinion piece on a player who has been discussed by many in the hockey world for the better part of the past two years (what new insight could I possibly bring to a dead topic?). This story is getting long in the tooth, but when I heard media sources citing Gomez could return to the Habs’ lineup this weekend, I was furious.
Why mess with a proven successful recipe? The Habs are now on a roll without Gomez. Lars Eller, David Desharnais and now Petteri Nokelainen have done an admirable job to date and have faired no worse than Gomez in the faceoff circle. All three are proving to be as productive offensively as this seven-plus-million dollar, 31-year old, has-been.
We all know Gomez is not going to be traded, what with a double shot of zero offensive output and a matching too-hot-to-touch, high-end salary, what NHL organization would want him? There is no way also that Canadiens’ President and CEO Geoff Molson is going to allow Gomez to be sent to Hamilton to play in the AHL. When was the last time you saw a $7.5 million player centering the first line of any AHL team?
Forget the buyout idea as well everyone - The Canadiens are too prudent an organization than to be stuck with nearly $20 million in salaries owing.
Coach Jacques Martin, do not dress Scott Gomez, for the love of God!
Lars Eller continues to beam with confidence on the third line and it shows in every game he plays - this kid is going to be a player. Yes, perhaps his winning faceoff percentage is not as favourable as one would hope, but in comparison to Gomez’ past faceoff performances, the two centremen are comparable.
Scott Gomez has not earned the right to suit up to centre either of the second or third line combinations. While he hasn’t hurt the Canadiens in any way; he hasn’t helped either. Gomez was once an elite playmaker and can only now boast that he is an excellent skater.
I am not in favour of Gomez taking icetime away from the Canadiens’ fourth line as well. The fourth line has been effective - Michael Blunden brings a physical presence and Nokelainen has been a nice addition to the club.
One of my previous readers mentioned that Jacques Martin should pull out a chair for Gomez and have him watch a few games (or more) from the press box. I strongly second this sentiment. Don’t get me wrong, Gomez possesses a couple of assets: he’s a great teammate to have in the dressing room and it’s impressive to watch him lug the puck down the ice, across the blueline and gain the offensive zone with ease, but that’s about it for assets for this dimunitive centreman.
At this point-in-time, Jacques Martin and the Montreal Canadiens organization needs to do what’s in the best interest of the team and keep the current active roster intact - sit Scott Gomez in the pressbox to watch his teammates compete and let him get agitated over the next week or more.
If you stir up this hornet’s nest, just maybe, we may once again be witness to a previous one-time NHL rookie-of-the-year winner, that previous Canadiens’ GM Bob Gainey coveted so dearly back in 2009.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one…