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Dreger's Mailbag: Gauthier, Burke, the Kings and Lightning

Darren Dreger
12/16/2011 12:11:12 PM
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Got a question on the latest news and rumours? E-mail Hockey Insider Darren Dreger and he'll answer your emails at dregereport@tsn.ca!

Darren, the term 'smacks of desperation' was used a lot last week when people were describing the Kaberle deal for Montreal. Is there anything to suggest that this could be the last stand for Pierre Gauthier and the front office?

Amina Marshall,
Lachine, QC

A: Media scrutiny enforces accountability even though for the unfortunate target often times that scrutiny seems unfair, or unbalanced. In Montreal the standard is always set high, so when that standard isn't achieved, those responsible...the players, coaching staff and most definitely management are held accountable. To manage the Montreal Canadiens you must have a layer of teflon and it appears Pierre Gauthier most definitely has that. He's not interested in what I or my colleagues have to say and is simply trying to manage the Canadiens in a direction he believes will make this team stronger long term. The Tomas Kaberle trade absolutely 'smacks of desperation' based on the reality that Kaberle's game at the time of trade barely kept him in the lineup and the Hurricanes were offering a second round draft pick to any team willing to take his contract (two years after this season ar $4.25M). The fact Carolina acquired a serviceable veteran in Jaroslav Spacek, whose contract expires on July 1 and were able to hold on to the additional pick they were dangling as bait, scores a clear financial win for the Canes. Yes, Gauthier is vulnerable because wasting your owner's money seldom earns GMs contract extensions. If the Habs miss the playoffs or bow out early, I'm certain there will be a full organizational review.

Hey Darren, have you noticed how quietly Brian Burke's self-imposed '10 days before the holiday roster freeze' roster freeze went by this season? Do you think he's happy with the lineup he has so far?

Joel Lott,
North York, ON

A: Joel, Burke's deadline did slip by with little or no attention. A few managers shared their amusement when the memo from the Leafs dropped into their in-box, while others actually tried to coax Burke to make a deal just prior to the holiday freeze. On Thursday, I interupted Burke and his Leafs management team's pheasant hunt (not kidding) to push him on a tip he was presented with legit trade offers prior to last Friday's freeze. He acknowledged there were a few teams who made strong offers for defencemen Keith Aulie and Cody Franson. Burke described them as "good" offers, but he told the inquiring general managers he wasn't interested in trading either defenceman. It could simply be a timing thing as Burke has made it clear he likes his team and believes the reconstruction phase is over and basic "fine tuning" is all that is needed now. Franson may become a piece Toronto is willing to peddle in the New Year, or at the deadline, however it's unlikely Aulie will become available unless the Leafs are offered a considerable upgrade, either on defence, or a big body forward that is NHL proven to be a solid top six.
 
Hi Darren,

What is going to be done to fix the falling Lightning?

Gino Doucette

A: Gino, tough question. At the moment, defence and goaltending appear to be Tampa Bay's biggest issues, although I'm not willing to throw Dwayne Roloson under the bus.  He's a fiercely competitive guy who may not be able to handle a full season at this stage of his dimming career, but I trust there is still enough in the tank to help stabilize his team.  Defensively, the Lightning aren't good enough, but because of the big contracts this team has to contend with, fixing the holes in season is tough to do. Lecavalier's mammoth term and salary obviously haunts this organization, largely because he's closer to a third line player now than a game-breaker. And as well as Tampa Bay did last season, their success was based more on riding momentum then it was the pure readiness of this franchise to move to the next level. There are still a few growing pains the Lightning have to push through, but they are well coached, well managed and have a great stable of young players. 
 
Darren, what is it that Kings GM Dean Lombardi sees in Darryl Sutter to consider him as head coach?

Michael Crane

A: Michael, obviously there is history between Sutter and Lombardi. Darryl is a smart hockey man who's incredibly intense, very strict and demands accountability. There's that word again...however, accountability was a word used often by Dean Lombardi during his media conference call on Monday. Lombardi holds the players accountable for Terry Murray's firing and also places the onus on the players to climb back in to the hunt. Sutter, who is expected to be introduced as the Kings next coach on Tuesday, knows how to motivate individuals on a game to game basis.  It may not be fun for awhile in the L.A. dressing room as Sutter squeezes each player to learn what they're made of.

Hey Darren,

I was wondering if there was any truth behind the rumours of Zach Parise getting traded? If so, who would be interested and what do think it would take to acquire him?

Cheers,
Mike Todd

A: Mike, the sense is the New Jersey Devils' priority is to re-sign Parise. Only when that process has been exhausted will Lou Lamoriello consider the ample trade interest. If Zach Parise were to become available, the lineup of GM's willing to make a deal would be long. Among the most interested, I would think Detroit and Pittsburgh would be as aggressive as any team to make something happen. I'm skeptical it gets to that point.

Got a question on the latest news and rumours? E-mail Hockey Insider Darren Dreger and he'll answer your emails at dregereport@tsn.ca!

Darren Dreger

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