by Dan Kramer, Staff Writer, AllHabs.net

This is the first in a new weekly series where I will take the role of Marc Bergevin and produce an open letter to somebody involved with the Montreal Canadiens organization, in order to outline how I would deal with a situation involving that (those) person (people).

Dear Scott Gomez,

I hope summer in Alaska is treating you well and that you’re training hard for the upcoming hockey season.  I write you today to discuss our intentions for the upcoming 2012-’13 season, and where you fit in the team’s plans.  Though I’m sure you try to ignore it, you’ve no doubt heard lots of speculation and discussion coming from the media and our fan base, so it’s time we set the record straight.

Maybe talk to this guy about opportunities abroad? (Frank Franklin II/The Associated Press)

It is no secret that your past two seasons have been a disappointment for everybody; for the team, for management, for fans, and certainly for you yourself as well.  Still, as I told you before you left, buying your contract out at this stage isn’t a viable option for this organization, so you remain a part of the team.  As a part of the team, we are committed to helping you out in any way we can to ensure you have the best possible coming season while we also do whatever is necessary to ensure the team is performing up to its potential.

This is where we get to our options.  I mean no disrespect in saying that, with your contract, giving you a fresh start with another NHL team isn’t a viable option – no one is willing to take on your final two years.  This means we will continue to pay you the last $10 million of the contract Glenn Sather signed you to in New York.  Where you spend that time, however, remains unclear.

Have you ever traveled Europe, Scott?  Have you given it any thought?  While many players went over there to play during the NHL lockout, you chose to return to Alaska, so I’m asking you to give it consideration now.  Marc Crawford might love to add you to his squad in Zurich.  Playing up north in Sweden or Norway might closer remind you of home.  The Finnish league might be a good fit where you can play a responsible two-way game.  Or if you want to play hockey at a very competitive level, perhaps give the KHL a  look.  Scott, you’re only going to be 34 when your current contract ends, meaning you should have a few hockey-playing years left in you.  If you want to earn an NHL contract somewhere after this deal expires, you’re better off dominating a European league than struggling in North America.

I’m sure you can understand from the team’s perspective how you playing in Europe would alleviate salary cap concerns we may have with our younger players like Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais needing new deals next summer.  But I also understand how at age 32, you might not want to pack up shop in North America and head overseas indefinitely.

So here’s what I can tell you should you opt to report to training camp in Montreal this fall instead:

We’ll give you a chance.  We’ve got a new coach in place in Michel Therrien bringing in a new system.  We’re trying to give the team a tougher look and feel, which might help to open up more ice for you.  Maybe our changes, combined with a better year of health from you, will succeed in revamping your career at least a little.  You understand that we have Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, and Lars Eller down the middle, but we do have an opening on left wing, so perhaps taking away some of the two-way responsibilities of a center and letting you focus on your bread-and-butter puck-carrying and playmaking will simplify things for you.  Perhaps we’ll give you a shot with Plekanec and your buddy Brian Gionta.  Or with Eller and our new addition Colby Armstrong.  We’ll give you a couple of looks and try to find the right situation to allow you to contribute to making this team better on the ice.

But I have to warn you, there are no guarantees.  As much as we love what you bring in leadership and see you as a good teammate, you’re going to need to work very hard and show up in tip-top shape to stay in Michel’s line-up.  If you want to be here, you need to show it, and if things don’t work out, we’ll have no choice but to sit you to give some younger players – guys we’re happy to start in Hamilton – a shot instead.  Once you’ve been passed in the depth chart like that, we start talking about your $7,357,143 cap hit and where else we might be able to spend it to improve our club.  If and when we find players who we feel will help our team more, we’ll have no choice but to place you on waivers, and when you clear, assign you to the American Hockey League.

That’s the deal I have for you, Scott.  Consider Europe, where a more open and less physical game might let you put up big numbers and receive NHL offers once your current contract is up.  But if you choose to return to the Canadiens, we’ll also give you a shot.  If you take it and run with it, we’ve got a mutually beneficial situation on our hands.  If you struggle, there may be bus trips in your near future.

Give all of this some thought.  But not too much thought, as you’ll want to be spending your time hitting the gym a lot this summer.  I watched both of our development camps last month, and you’re going to be facing some pretty stiff competition from some young kids before very long.

Best regards,

Marc Bergevin

 

  • Jon Snow

    This letter reads as a slap in the face. That is not how classy organizations conduct business. There is a lack of tact that is reminiscent of the Gauthier regime. “It is not secret that the last two seasons have been a disappointment to everyone…” – you don’t kick the guy when he’s down, you spin the fact to reflect positivity, hope. Such as “While your last 2 seasons here have been less than stellar, you have in the past proven to be a very good player, and hope that you are focusing on regaining your form…” – something like that would be much better.
    Also “giving you a fresh start is not a viable option…” first, that’s not true, as at least one team was willing to take on his contract and thus provide a fresh start, secondly, you don’t tell a player who is lacking in confidence something like that if you are the general manager, that’s something an agent says.

    This letter also sounds very tentative, as if Bergevin is reluctant to to give him a chance, it sounds as if he has little confidence in Gomez but can’t get rid of him.

    All in all…. I hope the Habs deal with Gomez with more class and respect than this letter. No disrespect to the author, but a letter like this would not inspire hope or confidence in Gomez. Whatever the Habs decide to do, Gomez should be treated as a member of the organization until he is no longer part of it.

    • This is clearly not a letter that a team would send to a player. For that matter, a team should not be sending a letter to a player.

      It is a creative outlet to outline what the Habs should/could/will do with Scott Gomez. Being give him a window to sign in Europe, and if he declines, offer him a chance with the team, with his knowing that if it doesn’t work out, he may end up on waivers and in the AHL.

      I think that’s as classy a way the team can handle it as possible.

    • By the way, “Also “giving you a fresh start is not a viable option…” first, that’s not true, as at least one team was willing to take on his contract and thus provide a fresh start,” when you say “at least one team,” are you referring to Montreal? When acquired by the Canadiens, he was one season removed from a 70 point year, and had just scored 16 goals and 58 points. Surely you can’t be comparing that to where he’s at now for a measure of a team willing to give him a fresh start?

  • don

    Good one Dan,

    and i would even put it more bluntly.
    He is an underperformer who, without the protection of a union, would of been axed from any private organization long ago, as the dummy who took on the contract should be (which is now done).

    He has already made enough unearned cash to buy a whole fleet of fishing boats, that i have zero sympothy for his situation.
    So it is waived and AHL bound for you, if you want to go elsewhere fly at er; just be gone by opening day.

  • Elvis Bonnar

    It should read like this……

    Dear Scott

    You freeloading, worthless, scumbag. I hope you get Lou Gehrigs Disease.

    cheers MB

  • I know we’re all frustrated that Scott Gomez has been paid so much and contributed so little to the Canadiens. However, it’s not as if he deliberately underperformed, and he’s not a disruptive influence on the team. In fact, in spite of his poor performance, he’s respected in the clubhouse and even liked by many fans. So I think he deserves better treatment than what this post, and what Elvis Bonnar and Don call for.

    Now, I agree that at this point in his career, there are better places than Montreal for him. But I think that should be pointed out as a possible option; he should not be pushed into going to Finland or wherever.

    • Hi Justine,

      Thanks for reading and your comment. I don’t disagree with your premise that he isn’t deliberately underperforming. Again, I thought it would be clear that I didn’t intend this as any form of “official communication,” or to suggest that these are words the team should send him, but rather used the letter format to add entertainment to discussing the team’s options with Gomez. I’m sorry for misguiding.

      The other point of the piece was to mention that INDEED, like you say, Montreal is an option for Scott. Many people are discounting that, so the purpose here is to suggest the best course of action would be to offer him the chance to sing in Europe, and if not, have him understand that the economics of the game mean that if he doesn’t earn his spot here, he could end up in Hamilton.

      It’s not about intent, disruption to the team, or being liked by teammates. It’s about the salary cap. If Gomez is in Montreal but not playing, the Canadiens are handicapping themselves by $7.5M that could be used when the right move presents itself.

  • Hockeyfan

    SHame on your organization for allowing you to post such a “letter”. You are obviously a very very weak writer. This is the second article I have read from your organization that is a complete disgrace!

    • Dear Hockeyfan,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this piece and for providing some feedback. It is only feedback, whether positive or negative, that can guide us towards what our readers would like to see more or less of in the future.

      Responses to this post were extremely mixed. It seems some didn’t appreciate the intent with which it was conceived, simply being a different format for expressing a take on some aspect of the team. In this case, the purpose of this “letter” was just to outline the options the Canadiens have with Scott Gomez, and their most likely course of action, which is the optimal one in my view. It wasn’t intended to be actual words spoken by Marc Bergevin, or actually remarks addressed to Scott Gomez.

      Due to a lack of clarity on the post’s “tone,” I will scrap the concept of Letters from Bergevin, and change the format back to a more traditional article.

      In future, if there are specific things about a piece you don’t enjoy, please feel free to contact the author or comment with any details as to what it is you didn’t enjoy or found “disgraceful.” It is through feedback that we may be able to make the site more enjoyable to our readers.

      Best regards,

      Dan

  • Leezalidis

    So I saw your twitter message to me and yes, I will leave a message here. When I take time to write my opinion it means that i care about something enough to do so.
    I like AllHabs. Always did right from the first time I got introduced to it. I read AllHabs because it is informative in a fun, entertaining manner. It is my type of reporting.
    This article made me do a double take though to make sure this was AllHabs.
    My first thought was ‘How L’Antichambre ‘ of them.
    It reminded me of an ‘Insider’ tweet.
    I found it condescending, mean and absolutely no value, nor any information added.
    You might be looking for a change of direction AllHabs. That’s OK.
    But I for one, and I understand am just one person, would miss you if you do.
    By no means do I wish to offend or to be rude. I apologize if I came out that way.

    • Dear Leeza,

      Thank you for taking the time to read this article (and All Habs in general), and for leaving your feedback. All feedback is welcome, as criticisms serve to steer me and others in the direction of what our readers would like to see. In this case, if you’ve read the other comments, certainly you’re not alone in feeling this piece doesn’t fit with the “usual” tone of the work on this site.

      To respond to your specific points, allow me to clarify the purpose here. This could have been a straight “informative” piece on Scott Gomez, but was attempted in this format instead as an experiment, to try to make it a light, entertaining read. What you (and others) saw as condescending was intended as fun sarcasm to provide a different sort of read from the usual hum-drum of the off-season. As I mentioned to the previous commenter, I apologize that it didn’t come off that way to you (though some seem to have appreciated more than others), and as a result of the offended audience, this “letter” format will be dropped rather than fleshed out as a series as intended.

      With regards to your mention of “absolutely no value, nor any information added,” this piece was never intended to provide any “insider” information on the Scott Gomez situation. The purpose was to defeat a common myth that Gomez is DONE in Montreal by highlighting the most likely path for him: being given his best option, to opt to play in Europe, or else to show up to training camp in the Fall and be given a fair shot of making the squad. It also serves to indicate where he could play, given the team’s 4 center spots are likely occupied. It was intended as a more amusing way to read those “facts” than just having them laid out in an ordinary article, but it seems many were so shocked by the format in which the words were conveyed that their purpose was overlooked.

      As mentioned, feedback greatly appreciated, and it is because of it that the format of this piece will be dropped. Thanks for reading, and I do hope you enjoy both my past and future work a little more!

      Best regards,

      Dan