Life has a way to throw back in your face the decisions that you’ve made. More often than not, it’s the bad ones that hit you the hardest. Bob Gainey took the easy way out, leaving his position as General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens. By doing so, he has left his biggest headache, Scott Gomez, onto his replacement Pierre Gauthier.
PENTICTON, BC. — This past summer, Gauthier had some fairly major decisions to make. Before my affiliation with All Habs, I had shared a two-part look at the work ahead for the Habs’ GM. In part one, we dressed a picture of what was already in place, including the signings of Rafael Diaz and Alexei Emelin, and touched on the dilemmas with the Markov situation. Part two focussed on the actual contracts situation and we looked at the needs of the team, as well as some potential solutions that Gauthier might want to explore.
While Gomez was partly Gainey’s doing, Pierre Gauthier took a huge gamble on re-signing Andrei Markov to a three-year contract at almost $6 million per season, after his star defenseman missed most of the last two seasons due to three major legs injuries, including two surgeries to repair the same knee. We all know the outcome, as Gomez was having yet another miserable season until his mysterious injury, and Markov has spent more time travelling to Florida than he did on the ice.
Out came the news that Gauthier signed defenseman Josh Gorges to a six year contract, with a cap hit said to be of $3.9M per season. Kevin Epp, Gorges agent, was quoted saying: “Habs would not have had to pay that much if something had been done in the summer”. Which goes hand in hand with what Gorges was telling me on July 7th when denying the rumours that he was asking close to $4M per season. When Gauthier signed him to a one year contract, it raised some serious questions about the risk taken by Habs’ management at the time.
Now what is Gauthier to do? Is he the one still making the decisions or is Bob Gainey back in the décor? Perhaps Geoff Molson is taking a more hands-on approach as he does have 600 million reasons to do so, seeing how bad his team is doing?
Unless there is some sort of clause in Markov’s contract allowing them to void it due to his health status, the Canadiens are stuck with it and that, no matter at what level Markov plays when he comes back, if he comes back at all.
As for Gomez, his actual salary is $7.5M this season, but going down to $5.5M next season and $4.5M in the final year of his contract. Buying him out at the end of the season would mean taking a hit on the cap of $3.5M in 2012-13, $4.5M in 2013-14, and $1.7M for 2014-15 and 2015-16. That is huge in a cap world. Trade? Who in their right mind would take a chance on him, even teams needing to reach the floor would have better and more productive options. Sending him to the AHL? While it’s a possibility, it’s a lot of money for Mr. Molson to pay for a guy in the minors.
My guess is that he’s likely hoping that the new CBA brings a clause for a one-time waver of a contract, making that player a UFA. Otherwise, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the decision makers, whether it’s Gauthier, a new GM or Mr. Molson himself!
En français: Maux de tête: Gomez et Markov