Mike Komisarek is the Key to Success

Shaun McMahonContributor IDecember 23, 2008

The Montreal Canadiens went into the Christmas break on a sour note, suffering a disappointing 3-2 shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes at the Bell Centre.

It should come as no surprise as the Habs typically don't win games on Dec. 23; coupled by the fact the Hurricanes have had Montreal's number since the lockout.

One positive note from the last three games before the break was the much-anticipated return of rugged defenseman Mike Komisarek. The man many believe to be the next captain of the Canadiens returned to the lineup after sitting out 16 games with a shoulder injury, suffered in a fight with Boston's Milan Lucic on Nov. 13.

During those 16 games, the Canadiens lost nine times, in stark contrast to the six losses they've suffered in 17 games with Komisarek in the lineup this season.

Josh Gorges has done an admirable job filling in for Komo alongside Andrei Markov, but there's no replacing a guy like Mike. A perennial leader in hits and shot blocking, Komisarek is developing into one of the games premiere blue liners.

The Canadiens lack intensity on many nights and they're far from being a physical team. Komisarek supplies the sandpaper the Habs desperately need.

During his absence from the ice, Komisarek was beckoned behind the bench by head coach Guy Carbonneau, putting even more emphasis on his leadership qualities. Those qualities have him poised to see a significant salary increase in 2009-2010.

Komisarek will be an unrestricted free agent this coming off season and will likely command north of five or six million dollars per season, compared to the 1.9 million he's earning this year.

Bob Gainey is notorious for his patience, but that patience may need to take a back seat to the urgency surrounding Montreal's most important UFA.

So much has been made of the centennial season and while it's important to celebrate Montreal's 100th year, the 101st will be really disappointing if the right moves aren't made now, before it's too late.