In this edition of the Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, general manager (GM) Kent Hughes is definitely not on vacation anymore as he slides into the weekend having made a big trade to help the Calgary Flames with their cap situation. There is also sad news on the future of Carey Price and some bad blood between Hockey Hall of Famer (HHOF) Serge Savard and former GM Marc Bergevin.
Canadiens’ Legend Savard Still Angry
HHOF defenceman and former Canadiens GM Serge Savard shared some of his thoughts on the Marc Bergevin era. He was not shy in his critique of Bergevin’s treatment of the Canadiens’ alumni.
“The Alumni had to suffer a difficult time with Marc Bergevin. He didn’t want anyone near the (Canadiens’ dressing) room. Even when we were going to the Alumni Lounge. We had to take a detour just to go there.”–Serge Savard (translated from French) (from ‘CH: Serge Savard criticizes the Marc Bergevin era’ Montreal Journal, 8/16/22)
Things seem to be much different now in that regard under Hughes. With the hiring of Chantal Machabee as the vice president of communications, there is clearly more of an emphasis on including Alumni with the addition of Ambassadors and their inclusion in social media outreach.
Canadiens Add Another Center
In a deal that was essentially a salary cap dump by the Calgary Flames to make room for the addition of Nazem Kadri and his salary, Hughes added 27-year-old, 6-foot-2, 200-pound centerman Sean Monahan.
Monahan, a seven-time 20-goal scorer, is coming off of his worst statistical season in the NHL that saw him score only eight goals and 23 points in 65 games played. This could be a player nearing the end of a career or may have to do with him playing through the pain of a hip injury that led to season-ending surgery, leaving him on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). The former sixth overall pick by the Flames in 2013, he has spent his entire career with the Flames and is signed for only one more season at a cap hit of $6.375 million.
The Canadiens also added a conditional first-round pick for taking on his contract, but it is complicated. It could be a first in any of the 2024, 2025, or 2026 seasons, also, it is possible it could be Calgary’s pick or even a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers.
With the addition of over $6 million in salary, a Canadiens’ squad that had only approximately $200,000 in cap space before the deal was made, and a need to sign restricted free agents Kirby Dach and Cayden Primeau, Hughes needed to do something to massage the cap. Unfortunately, the answer also meant that there was some horrible news for Canadiens fans about Carey Price.
Canadiens’ Price Era Ending
Hughes met with the media on Aug. 18 after the Monahan trade was finalized and confirmed that Price would go on LTIR and probably won’t play next season.
Hughes said news on Price’s knee was discouraging and with him unable to play this season, it provided the cap space that allowed for the Monahan acquisition. He later mentioned that it was also unlikely Price would ever be able to play again without surgery, that rehab alone probably wouldn’t get it done. He preferred waiting to talk about Price’s long-term future until a later date when Price and his doctor would be available for the media.
From a purely salary cap point of view, his contract over the next four years jeopardizes nothing of the Canadiens’ future. Price can finish out his contract on LTIR and Hughes can approach building his team without concern about his cap hit. It will only cost owner Geoff Molson money and not any cap space, which isn’t a big problem considering the income streams he has coming in from the Canadiens’ organization and Molson Brewing.
With the news on Price being what it is, it places his actions at his last game against the Florida Panthers in a new light as a “Farewell and Thank You” feel as opposed to a return. If that was the end, it’s nice that he got the loving send-off he did.
In hindsight, considering the severity of his injuries, Price’s efforts to battle back and return to the ice last season most definitely exemplified the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. That is why he was awarded the 2022 Masterton Memorial Trophy. If this is truly the end of an era, Habs fans should still get an opportunity to give him the ovation he deserves at the Bell Center, if he is introduced at the season opener.
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