Here is a quiz for Habs’ fans: Who was the last French Canadian impact offensive forward to suit up for the Montreal Canadiens? No, there hasn’t been many but has been a few since Guy Lafleur, although many fans were either not born yet or were too young to remember when the team had a local product to which they could relate to. The answer? It was during the 1998-99 season that Vincent Damphousse was traded to the San Jose Sharks. Well done to those who knew that.
Damphousse had seasons of 27, 38, 39 and 40 goals while wearing the Red, White and Blue. Pierre Turgeon had 38 goals in the 1995-96 season and just before him, Stéphane Richer was the last French Canadian 50 goals’ scorer with the Habs, the last time in 1989-90. Since then, the crop has been slim picking for the Canadiens, although it’s not like the fans haven’t been hoping for some local talent to carry the team’s offense. Who can forget when Mike Ribeiro was seen as almost Superman because he reached the 20 goals plateau in 2003-04? Or the frenzy in 2006 when 19 year old Guillaume Latendresse had a good camp and everyone saw him as the next local power forward?
Yes, times have changed and there are not as many impact Quebecois in the NHL as there used to be. That’s a fact and Hockey Quebec has been scratching its head for several years, trying to address this phenomena. However, some fans and member of the media, particularly those using the language of Shakespeare, are trying to downplay the need for French speaking players on the Canadiens. But as we touched on in length in a previous article, Beyond Politics is a Habs’ Reality.
Rumours are circulating that the Tampa Bay Lightning might be shopping Drouin and we know that Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin had serious discussions with Steve Yzerman back when Drouin had a dispute with the Lightning. Rumours were that Yzerman wanted Alex Galchenyuk, which at the time was a non-starter for Bergevin. How things change through. Today, it’s unlikely that Yzerman would make that trade even if Bergevin offered Chucky in exchange.
However, if he is truly testing the waters to trade Drouin, Yzerman will have Bergevin call him several times a day and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Canadiens put together the best offer to get the French Canadian talent. What remains to be seen though is if Yzerman will have the cojones to pull such an important trade within his own division, to a team battling directly with them for a playoffs’ spot.
Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT expect Bergevin to go the offer sheet way, neither for Drouin or for Leon Draisaitl this summer. Too many GMs have had to leave their jobs for their team’s sake after employing that tactic as the NHL is a tight knit group and those putting their counterpart in trouble with offer sheets are blackmailed. Yes, it is legal, but just ask Paul Holmgren what happens when you play dirty tricks…
Drouin, a native of Ste-Agathe, Quebec, is only 22 years of age and he 29 goals and 96 points in 164 regular seasons’ games in the NHL. A versatile forward able to play all three of the forward positions, he finished last season with 21 of those goals. In the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he had 14 points in 17 games, including four goals in the Eastern Conference Final.
I personally believe that it would be worth slightly overpaying for Drouin as I do believe in having some quality local talent on the Montreal Canadiens. Rest to decide what is considered overpaying but that, I will leave in the capable hands of the General Manager.