Is Bob Gainey Showcasing Jaroslav Halak?
For the past four games, the Montreal Canadiens have played, all wins, Jaroslav Halak has been in net and has provided some of the most stellar goaltending that has been seen in Montreal since well...the last time "Jaro" won four games in a row last year.
Last year, Halak had to beat top-flight teams where he had to basically have the game of his life four games in a row.
This time around, he played well in last Tuesday's game against Atlanta, and Jacques Martin decided that he would not break up a winning combination.
However, it might not be all that simple.
It's a well known fact that Bob Gainey wants to give his young hopeful Carey Price as much ice time as possible.
So would he be really okay with Martin leaving Halak in net, especially when Price is in need of confidence?
Maybe, but probably not.
Jaroslav Halak has been the only constant in the Montreal net for the past three years and has quietly gone about his business and excelling when called upon. Always upbeat, you'd be hard-pressed to find Halak ever speak of the unfair treatment he has received from the club.
Carey Price needs a veteran backup to guide him, and as skilled as Halak is, he cannot provide that.
Not only that, but Halak's agent probably knows that it would be in his best interest to have more ice time to be able to negotiate a better contract.
He definitely has the numbers to win an arbitration case, but if the young Slovak ever wants to reach a higher level, that simply will not happen in Montreal.
Bob Gainey has invested too much in Carey Price, and is now feeling the squeeze from the Habs' current situation in net, where the late-round gem is outplaying the top-five savior.
This is in no way meant to knock on Price, as he will become an elite level goaltender in the National Hockey League someday, but management has been him in a situation that gives him little space to develop in a constructive manner.
An extra year in the AHL would have been tremendously beneficial for Price, but again, that is not his fault, that was management's decision, not his.
Only time will tell when the fans at the Bell Centre lose their patience with Price, but in the meantime, he needs a veteran to show him the way. Loaded with talent, he just has to get his mental game together, and when that happens he will reach his potential.
As for Halak, the Canadiens would be wiser to keep their late-round steal, but maybe, just maybe, Halak wants to go on with his career, and not have to be in the shadow of a goaltender who hasn't proved himself at the NHL level yet. Bob Gainey and Jacques Martin can help that cause by giving Halak the minutes he deserves.
And also by finding him a new address.
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