For those who somehow may have missed this piece of news yesterday afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens traded former second round pick and Quebec native Guillaume Latendresse in exchange for Benoit Pouliot, the Wild’s 4th overall pick in the 2005 draft. The trade was simply each team identifying a player that wasn’t going to work in their respective organizations, and swapping them. It would be like if I traded someone strep throat for an ear infection. It’s up to each respective organization to figure out why their acquired player did not succeed in their previous environment, and to try and salvage the talent with the right teammates and good communication.
HAVING SAID THAT (thanks Curb for brigning that back)
Less than 24 hours after the fact; three things are really bothering me about this Latendresse for Pouliot trade.
#1 – the ridiculous amount of media coverage
I am guilty as well, because I am critical of the people who are consumed by the trade, therefore I am equally at fault. But, the reality of this is that Montreal traded a marginal bottom 6 forward to Minnesota for a new, marginal bottom 6 forward. On August 13, Tampa traded Evgeny Artyukhin to Anaheim in exchange for Drew Miller. I know the markets are very different, but that trade essentially flew under the radar, and with good reason. Yesterday, I saw articles from reporters talking about how Montreal will regret this, how Latendresse is the next John Lecalir, how Guillaume was better than Andrei Kostitsyn and how Guillaume was set up to fail and will now come back to haunt Montreal, among many other opinions. This is EXACTLY what is wrong with Montreal. Everything is exaggerated and blown out of proportion, kind of like when Latendresse played a couple of good exhibition games when he was 18, and was therefore labeled the power forward/future 30 goal scorer that Montreal has been looking for. Let this situation be a lesson for the Montreal media; learn how to look at things more objectively and not let other factors affect your assessment of a player. I just hope that when 2009 first round pick Louis Leblanc plays a few exhibition games next year, members of the media will be very careful with how they handle that situation. Excelling against opponents of the same age is sometimes better for development than being overmatched at the highest level.
#2 – the common criticism that “the Canadiens ruined Latendresse”
Ok; first of all, most of the people who use this argument are the same people mentioned in the #1 portion of this piece, who pushed for Guillaume to play in the NHL as an 18 year old. That’s pretty hypocritical if you ask me. There are some, however, who believe that the Canadiens ruined Guillaume’s development because they rushed him. Those people have a very valid point. My response to that is that Latendresse would have never been a top 6 forward in any situation. Who knows how he would have developed had he played 1 more year in the Q, played a regular shift at the World Juniors and spent a year in Hamilton. Hindsight is 20/20, but the guy just doesn’t have the physical tools (skating/passing/shooting) to project as a guy who could have scored 30-40 goals at the highest level in any situation. Yes; I would agree that his development was stunted. But I wonder if anyone really, truly feels that had he gone through the “right” development route that he would currently be an impact power forward in the NHL. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see it. I see a 4th line player now, who had the potential to be a decent 3rd line winger at best. You want to call that ruining a player then go ahead. Gilbert Brule was ruined. Kyle Turris was almost ruined. Hopefully Josh Bailey wasn’t ruined. Guillaume Latendresse is not in that caliber of raw talent. He never will be and he never could have been.
#3 – “I was never given a chance” – Guillaume Latendresse
That is such BS! The fact that he said that tells you everything you need to know about this guy’s character. Whether people agree with the decision or not, he made the NHL when he was still eligible to play in Junior hockey, and he never spent a day in the AHL. Guillaume has been handed everything without having had to work and sacrifice for it and all he can say is that “I was never given a chance”. That is absolutely ridiculous and just shows how spoiled he is. With that attitude, I’m happy he’s gone and I don’t even care if Benoit Pouliot never scores a goal in a Montreal uniform.
Enjoy him in Minnesota.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.