To get ahead in life, you have to take chances. But taking chances is no different than playing with fire; you can get burnt. When Bob Gainey decided to change the leadership in the dressing room after the Centennial fiasco, he chose to let go of team captain Saku Koivu, who was also the number one center of the team.
With this decision, Gainey then had to not only find a replacement in leadership, but he had to find an offensive center to replace the one who was the Habs’ offense in the past 10 years. As we know, that kind of player doesn’t come around very often and Gainey gambled in acquiring Rangers’ center Scott Gomez and with him, his big contract. The Canadiens’ GM must have been thinking that in spite of his 58 points season, Gomez was only a year from his 70 points season.
The expectations on Gomez were that he could return to his old self, especially after the Canadiens managed to sign long-time friend and teammate Brian Gionta and one of the best goals scorer in Mike Cammalleri. Unfortunately for Gainey and for the Habs, Gomez came back with a similar season he just had in New York.
Perhaps thinking that he could change his luck, Gomez chose to change his number to 91 to 11 for the 2010-11 season, number that both Koivu and Kirk Muller wore with the Canadiens. The change didn’t help him any, as Gomez had the worst season of his career! If he thinks that it’s a matter of luck, Gomez will be running out of choices soon as with its history, Montreal has several jerseys retired!
There are three more years to Gomez’ contract, with a cap hit of $7.357M$. Even his biggest fans have to admit that it’s a lot to pay for his leadership and production. But what are the options? What can Pierre Gauthier do?
Buy out his contract
If the Canadiens chose to buy out his contract, here is a breakdown of the cap hit for each season :
Source : Capgeek.com
Not a very probable option.
Send him to the AHL
The Edmonton Oilers sent Sheldon Souray to the AHL. We saw the New York Rangers send Wade Redden to the same league. In both cases, the team was responsible to pay their full salary (one-way contracts) but it didn’t count against their cap. Would the Molson brothers, who have just spent $600M to buy the team, be willing and able to give a player $17.5M to play in the minors, not counting the salary of the player who would take his spot in the NHL? Allow me to seriously doubt it.
If the Canadiens absolutely want to get rid of his contract, this would be the most feasible option, although pretty much impossible. Yes, we have heard rumours that the Phoenix Coyotes were interested at the trade deadline. We’ve heard the talk about Gomez’ Mexican heritage and the fact that there is a big Mexican population in Arizona, and we know that the Coyotes have room under their cap, that they’re more interested in the actual salary paid out than the cap hit. But really, we’re talking about a team without an owner here, a team that could move before long. We must also acknowledge that Gomez has a NTC stating that he must provide 3 teams to which he would not want to be traded. The trade option is very unlikely this summer.
Of all options, this is the most likely scenario, at least for this season. He will have a chance to make amend. He is a proud man, a competitor and listening to what his teammates have to say about him, he is well liked in the dressing room. We could notice that he kept a positive attitude in spite of his bad season, that he didn’t put his own lack of success ahead of the team. True though that the coach has always given him his ice time, deserved or not!
A good season from Gomez would give Pierre Gauthier more options for the summer of 2012. At that point, he will only have two years remaining to his contract and while the cap hit won’t change, his actual salary will be $5,5M in 2012-13 and $4,5M in 2013-14, so an average of $5M in comparison to his $7,357M cap hit. A team needing a veteran offensive center, a leader, and for whom the cap hit is less important than the salary paid, could very well show some interest at that time, especially if Gomez has a decent season.
So if you have some money to bet as to where Scott Gomez will be playing next season, the safe bet would be on Montreal.
En français: Scott Gomez: Quelle est la solution?