Habs Dilemma: Tomas Plekanec

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By J.D. Lagrange, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

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Life as a hockey player in Montreal is guaranteed to bring its ups and downs and when the team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 22 years, those who have been part of it for the longest time are not immune to criticism, whether they are well deserved or not.

PENTICTON, BC. – Only Andrei Markov has been with the Canadiens longer than Tomas Plekanec and both have been facing their share of criticism for the team’s exit from this year’s playoffs. While many have pointed the finger at head coach Michel Therrien for not resting the veteran defenseman towards the end of the regular season, the same cannot be said to younger Plekanec, who did not crack the top 30 in the NHL in ice time per game amongst forwards, a factor mainly due to the fact that the team is four lines deep.

Having said that, there have been some pretty nasty words exchanged on the internet about Plekanec and while the rumour mill is having a hay day with him, it is important to keep a level headed approach when it comes to the criticism he has received. The speedy centerman is a much more important piece of the Habs’ system than just goals and assists. Amongst the team’s forwards, only Manny Malhotra, mainly for his faceoff ability, has spent more time on the ice per game killing penalties while he and Max Pacioretty were an offensive threat when paired together in those situations. Plekanec was also one of the team’s most utilised forwards on the power play, where he scored seven of his 26 goals this season and he finished second in team scoring with 60 points, tied with P.K. Subban, seven points back of Pacioretty.

Beyond the stats (no, everything cannot be measured statistically), Plekanec is said to be a real pro on and off the ice. He takes care of himself and steers away from controversy, preferring to live a healthy and quiet lifestyle. A leader in his own way, Plekanec is an alternate captain on the Canadiens and he captained the Czech Republic at the last winter Olympics in 2014.

Offensively, the native of Kladno has reached the 20 goals plateau seven times and was on pace to attain that goal during the lockout shorten season as well. It was the third time this season that he reached the 60 point mark, his best season being in 2009-10 when he finished with 70 points.

Plekanec is also the type of player that a coach and his teammates can count on to play all season long. Only in 2010-11, when he missed five games, has he been out of the line-up for more than two games the entire season.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

It may sound like a cliché to some, but the reality is that today’s NHL is a business more than ever. Teams have to be built within the salary cap and for Canadian teams, the dollar exchange can come into effect. Habs’ fans had a clear example of the business aspect of hockey when one of the fan favourites, Carey Price’s best friend, Josh Gorges, was traded last summer to the Buffalo Sabres. Few players are untouchable, and all depends on the plan decided by Bergevin and his team.
Plekanec

Plekanec still has one more year to his contract which carries a cap hit of five million dollars. He is then scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. And despite his great numbers in regular season, his 46 points in 81 playoff games, most notably his four points in two series in this year’s playoffs, is what has been his shortfall. It seems like every time the games become more physical or more intense, Plekanec is overshadowed and becomes less of a positive factor for his team and that’s difficult when the team relies on him to be a key guy on offense.

Marc Bergevin has acknowledged the team’s need for a top line big centre, stating in the same breath that they are difficult to get as every team is looking for the same. The Canadiens may have one in their line-up in Alex Galchenyuk, and one currently playing at the Memorial Cup in Michael McCarron, but will one more year of Plekanec be enough time to allow the team to let him walk and have a NHL-ready quality replacement? As much as some want to ignore the reality of the market in Montreal, it would be a mistake to think that there won’t be any interest from Bergevin towards pending UFA Antoine Vermette, who is in many ways a similar player to Plekanec, but with a bit more grit.

But unless you are part of Marc Bergevin’s team of management, no one really knows where Plekanec stands in the future plans of the team, while everyone likes to speculate. Some rumouroids will even go as far as advancing that he has already been traded but the team must wait to make the announcement. Personally, I will wait for the official announcement (if any) from the team before I jump of happiness or panic.

Go Habs Go!!!

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.