I, Marcus Henderson, am a fan of Scott Gomez.
It all began on a cold, wintery evening in 2008. Rookie goaltender Carey Price was having an off night against the Rangers. He let in 3 goals in the first period. It happens. Then coach Guy Carbonneau pulled Carey in favour of Cristobal Huet. The hurting didn’t stop. The Rangers piled on 2 more goals in the second period, seemingly putting the game out of reach. As the third period started, the Rangers seemed to be asleep. 2 goals from Michael Ryder, a goal from Kovalev, and another from Ryder to complete the hat trick. Suddenly it was a one goal game! At 15:38 of the 3rd period Alex Kovalev scored a PP goal to tie up the game. The Habs would eventually win it in a shootout, ending one of the greatest comebacks in NHL history.
Now, you are probably wondering. “What the hell is he on about now?” and “What on earth does this have to do with Scott Gomez?” I will tell you.
While all this was going on, I was watching Gomez. His incredible skating and puck handling skills were mind boggling. While the rest of his team were sitting on their hands, Gomez was everywhere! As the game wore on, and tempers flared, little Scotty Gomez was the first one in the pile, and was the mouthiest of the bunch. Trying desperately to keep his team in it.
Even though the Rangers lost the game, and Gomez put a big fat zero on the scoreboard, he was the best player on the ice. Bar none. At that moment I thought, “Gainey’s gotta get this guy!”
It is well documented that the Habs had a broken locker room in their centennial season. It cost Carbonneau his job, and was the reason for the massive rebuilding of the team in the off season.
Where did Gainey start? Scott Gomez. He was brought in to fix the broken locker room. And fix it he did. Money well spent.
And so…here we sit. 1 year, no goals. Limited points since his acquisition. Every Hab fan on the planet calling for his head. Calling for Gainey’s head. Calling for “the Goat’s” head.
And me? I still like him. The team is better with him in the lineup, whether he’s putting up points or not. Obviously, points would be better, but Scott has a large list of unquantifiable talents and benefits. At this point, I’d say he’s more deserving of the “C” than Gionta. Not more than Gorges, who clearly should have it, but deserving nonetheless.
What’s more? While everyone else is counting the days until his contract is up, and he is erased from their memories and the team’s cap hit, I sit here hoping he is signed to an extension. He would certainly be cheaper at that point wouldn’t he?
Here’s an intriguing option. There are rumours that the new CBA will include a one time, penalty free, buyout on a single bad contract per team. I have an idea. This happens, Molson buys out Scott’s contract taking him off the cap. Scott gets the money he earned (that’s right, I said it) and everyone is happy. No harm to the team. This is where things get interesting. Would the Habs be allowed to resign him? If Gomez is allowed to sign, for say, $2.5 million per year? Or does this defeat his buyout money? Somehow it seems too good to be true. The habs keep their locker room leader, and at a price that actually reflects his production, while he still gets the money he earned. (yep. I said it again.)
I realize this is never going to happen. I’m not that naive. And the league is not that stupid.
What I ask at this point is this. What are the Canadiens going to spend Gomez’ money on if they are allowed to buy him out penalty free? Jeff Carter? Rick Nash? Don’t even try to tell me Getzlaf, Perry or Ryan. Anaheim isn’t moving any of those guys. And even if they did, it would cost the Habs something that they just can’t afford to part with right now. High draft picks and prospects.
Like it or not, Habs fans, this team is entering a rebuild stage. What does this mean? Money is not a problem. Gomez’ contract means nothing. The next few years should see the team obtaining and icing a young team comprised of entry level contracts. It’s time to build some superstars. Lars Eller and Max Pacioretty are your new ‘veterans’.
After 2 more season’s, Gomez’ contract is up. At this point, the team has had a couple years to recuperate. With 7.3 million in cap space suddenly available, the Canadiens can make a HUGE splash. And they will be ready.
Now is NOT the time for panic. Now is the time for clear thinking and a carefully laid out plan. And this plan MUST include someone like Scott Gomez.