Things of note to come out of the exit imedia interviews.
Many of us thought that Thomas Vanek was playing hurt during the last two rounds of the playoffs. Not so, he told reporters. He blamed his struggles in the playoffs to “chemistry” after he was moved from the Desharnais line to the Plekanec line and then beyond. “I played with Plekanec most of the playoffs and it just didn’t work. We’re both, I believe very good players. We’re just not on the same page.” When asked his opinion Plekanec said “I guess he’s right. We didn’t score many goals.”
Carey Price said he probably would have been available had the Canadiens advanced to the Stanley Cup final. He will not face off-season surgery. And about the Chris Kreider collision that took him out of Game One of the Eastern final he said, “I don’t think it was on purpose.”
There will be a lot decisions to make between now and early July.
The unrestricted free agents include Vanek, Brian Gionta,Mike Weaver,Andrei Markov,Douglas Murray, George Parros and Francis Bouillon.
We make the dangerous assumption that Gionta, Murray, Parros and Bouillon won’t be re-signed.
It has long been assumed that Vanek is headed for Minnesota on July first, although he has never publicly mentioned it. Saturday he said, “I don’t have a city preference. It’s going to come down to offers and I want to go somewhere to win. I’ve said that since Day 1.” Assuming the Canadiens have the will, is Montreal a possiblity? “It’s a place where you want to be, especially in the playoffs.”
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta wants to stay but seems resigned to a change of venue. To remain he would have to take a massive pay cut from the 5-million he earned last season. “We had a great run. We fell short. It’s disappointing in that regard but, I’ve loved it here.”
The Canadiens have a raft of young defensemen in the pipeline which makes the decision on Mike Weaver an interesting one. Weaver is 36 years old and has been inexpensive (1.1 million this season}. He gave the Canadiens everything they wanted and much more. “It’s up to them to come up with something. I loved it here. Playing in Montreal made me enjoy the game again. It was a lot of fun.”
The Canadiens have four restricted free agents to deal with, P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Dale Weise and Ryan White. Eller will get a decent raise, Weise and White will get what fourth line players generally get, something between one and two million dollars.
P.K. is about to break the bank. While saying he wants to finish his career in Montreal he added that it’s now up to his agent Don Meehan to do the job. “I’ve done mine, now he’ll do his.”
Couldn’t be said better.
Andrei Markov, who also is in a major contract negotiation, wasn’t at proceedings Saturday which is not surprising considering his guarded demeanor around the Montreal media at the best of times.