I have read through many websites including Twitter and a variety of Facebook groups, all calling for David Desharnais to be left off the team. There is one problem: given contracts in the NHL, every team has seen he has not had a hot start this part of the season and would prefer not to have someone as unpredictable and highly paid as him on the team. That creates a big problem that people seem to be ignoring.
Desharnais signed a contract last year in the middle of a decent season (28 points in 48 games) and after an even better 2011-12 (60 points in 81 games). The contract is for four years, ending after the 2016-2017 season, with a cap hit of $3.5 million per year. With that being said, he had a bad start to the training camp, and then during preseason fans were already saying that the contract signing was a bad one. Habs management had to hope that it was just a small phase and he would be able to snap out of it soon.
So far this season that has yet to be the case. In the first fifteen games played, he has only recorded one assist. Comparing the start of this season with last has many fans questioning whether he will be able to catch up let alone best least year’s stats with the way he is going.
Coach Michel Therrien has tried everything in his power by switching up his linemates, to having him play more ice time than the EGG line (considered the first line). He has also played on power plays, penalty kills and had extra coaching and video sessions but nothing has seemed to work to get him out of the slump.
During the game on Saturday, November 2nd against the Colorado Avalanche he was demoted to the fourth line (usually a second/third line player) at the end of the second period. In the third period he was benched pretty much the whole period except one shift that caused him to get a -1 beside his name when a goal found the back of the net behind Habs goalie Peter Budaj.
For last night’s game the Habs recalled Martin St-Pierre who replaced Desharnais as he was a healthy scratch in a game against the St. Louis Blues. Head coach Michel Therrien is clearly trying to send him a messge, but no one can be sure if it will work. In any event it seems likely Desharnais will return to the lineup Thursday against the Ottawa Senators, as St-Pierre was returned to Hamilton this morning.
The problem with his contract is since he has done so poorly at the start of the season and the length and value of the deal, if the Habs were to trade now Bergevin would probably have to trade for another bad contract or eat some of Desharnais’ salary. If Desharnais were to get hot and score a couple of more points throughout the season then we could probably have an easier time trading but almost nobody is willing to take the gamble. There have been rumors that there is a trade in the works with the Florida Panthers (who have Scott Gomez after his bad signing) and many fans think (and hope) Desharnais could end up there.
Another way that this situation can be solved is let him play (or bench him depending what the coach decides) until the end of the season and buy out his contract, but the Habs would be paying just over a million dollars ($1.1667 million) for the next six years.
Hopefully whatever happens will happen sooner than later. It will make a lot of fans happy if a deal could get done and many fans who will not be happy. Many people say that Marc Bergevin will be the top GM of the year if we could do something about this contract (not even factoring what he would get for it).
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Main photo credit: MattBritt00 via photopin cc