Montreal - Since he took his GM functions in Montreal in 2003, Bob Gainey has been the target of numerous criticism from Analysts, fans and journalists.
So far, Gainey proved everyone wrong. This man showed everybody what kind of businessman he is. To run a hockey team, especially the Habs, the General Manager needs to weigh every move he makes and Gainey is a master
Many trades that was made by Bob to improve the team. I would say that at least 75% of these trades were proved beneficial to the improvement of the team.
In 2003-2004, as January started as they won 7 of their first 9 in the New Year. Hoping to add scoring the Canadiens acquired Alexei Kovalev from the New York Rangers just before the trade deadline. Kovalev would struggle to adjust to his new surroundings but the Canadiens would not, making the playoffs with a 41-30-7-4 record.
In 2005-2006, Coach Claude Julien was fired and replaced by Gainey, while Goalie Jose Theodore struggled. Theodore's season would go from bad to worse as he suffered a heel injury off the ice, and then he failed a pre-Olympic drug test, receiving a two-year ban from International play. While Theodore was out, back up Cristobal Huet played well, eventually leading the Habs to deal Theodore a one-time Hart Trophy winner to the Colorado Avalanche for Goalie David Aebischer. With Huet and Aebischer in the net the Canadiens would have a strong March, as they made the playoffs for the 77th time with a 42-31-9 record.
In 2006-2007, on September 30, Montreal traded Mike Ribeiro for Janne Niiniimaa. This trade ended up to be the worst trade made by Gainey. On December 15th, Bob traded Mathieu Garon to San Jose for Patrick Traverse. This trade had little to no effect on both sides. Then on February 25th Gainey traded defense man Craig Rivet to San Jose for defense man Josh Gorges. This trade made everybody question Gainey's ability as GM. That year was very difficult for the Gainey family when his daughter, Laura, 25, was swept off the deck of the ship Picton Castle in the Atlantic ocean. This loss was devastating for Bob and I was disgusted by comments of a handful of people doubting his ability to run the team because of this tragedy.
In 2007-2008, On February 8th, Montreal traded Fancis Lemieux to Detroit for Brett Engelhardt, a trade that had little to no effect on both sides. On the deadline day (Feb. 26th) Bob traded Christobal Huet to Washington for a 2nd-round draft pick in 2009 to force Carbonneau to use Carey Price as #1 goalie with Jaroslav Halak as backup. Gainey (re)acquired UFA Patrice Brisebois for 1M$ in a 1 year contract as well as Brian Smolinski
Also, Bob signed a few UFA. Kostopoulos, Smolinski, Brisebois, etc... All these guys have helped the team.
It will be important for Gainey to get the big center needed to bring the team to the next level. The team has a great core. Rising young players who gained valuable playoff experience. Andrei Kostitsyn signed a $9.75M for 3 years which was, to my opinion, Gainey's top priority.
If Gainey doesn't land one of the remaining big names still available (Sundin, M. Hossa, Naslund, etc) doesn't mean that Bob failed... it means that Gainey is smart, period.
It is not in the team's philosophy to pay any price for a player. Bob Gainey is a very intelligent GM who foresees what is coming down the pipe. He is like a chess player.
It would be nice to have Sundin or Hossa in Montreal but I don't think the price is right.
I'd rather see Bob do nothing than do something stupid.