Bob Gainey: Montreal's Village Idiot or Smartest GM in the NHL?

Matt HomdisCorrespondent IFebruary 28, 2008

This past Tuesday, the NHL deadline went down, and some big names changed locales. Richards went to Dallas, Campbell to San Jose, and the biggest catch, Hossa, went to the Penguins.

Here in Montreal, after weeks of speculation of Bob Gainey wanting to acquire an impact player, what the fans received was Cristobal Huet being unloaded for a 2009 second round pick from Washington. 

As expected, the local sport talk-shows where bombarded with insults being thrown at Gainey for not pulling through for two years in a row. Still with the team was Michael Ryder, and Marian Hossa was finding a home in an already talented team.

As much flack as he took in the few days following the deadline, we learned that Atlanta asked way too much for Marian Hossa, and Gainey refused to cave in.

Upon arriving here, Gainey said he wanted to bring Montreal back to the top of the NHL the right way, through the draft and good deals. As great as it would have been to see Hossa in town for a playoff run, how can we blame the GM for sticking to his plans?

Let's look at some of the acquisitions the Gainey regime has brought to Montreal:

Through the draft: Andrei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Ryan O'Byrne, Kyle Chipchura, Mikhail Grabovski, Carey Price, Guillaume Latendresse, and Sergei Kostitsyn.

Through trades: Cristobal Huet, Josh Gorges, and Alex Kovalev.

These players have helped the Habs achieve fourth position in the Eastern Conference standings, THIS year. The minors are stacked with top-end prospects and the salary cap situation is under control.

While teams such as the Maple Leafs have handcuffed themselves by handing out no-trade clauses like candy, Gainey has assured himself of having a manageable roster.

The Habs seem set to be able to contend for years to come with the emergence of young players such as Chris Higgins and Mike Komisarek leading the wave; all this done under the watchful eye of Bob Gainey who does not make big splashes on the Free Agent market.

As nice as it would have been to have Hossa circling the ice next to Koivu, the fans must think that Bob Gainey did not think it wise to lose players like Higgins for a rent-a-player.

Teams such as the Sharks, Thrashers, and Islanders all experimented with this new trend last year and it all ended with them being ousted from the playoffs early without retaining the players the paid so dearly to get.

So the Canadiens might not win the Stanley Cup this year, but the fans must rest assured that they will be in the hunt for years to come.

All thanks to a man called Bob Gainey, the smartest GM in the NHL.