Sunday, 17 June 2012

Yes, we bring back Mathieu Darche for another season

It's become fashionable to bash Mathieu Darche as an untalented player who contributes little and only has a job because he's a francophone player, the only one on the Canadiens with David Desharnais.  Looking at all the holes on the roster last season, and all the injuries we suffered, and looking at the unappetizing list of unrestricted free agents who will be available July 1, I wouldn’t turn up my nose at Mathieu Darche so quickly. 
While he doesn’t play a spectacular game, there’s a reason his coaches love him and trust him, and keep giving him icetime. Being put on the powerplay ahead of Erik Cole by Jacques Martin was probably exaggeration, but served as a good indication of the value a coach puts on his contributions. He comes relatively cheap, will be happy to be a Canadien and will practice and play like it, and be a model citizen on and off the ice. Youngsters benefit from having a player like him in the dressing room rather than an Andrei Kostitsyn or Alex Radulov.
Another benefit of having him along with Travis Moen is that these two guys will reduce the pressure to graduate Brendan Gallagher, Blake Geoffrion and Louis Leblanc too soon. They can get down to business in Hamilton and learn their craft without being yo-yoed like poor Aaron Palushaj last season, who was repeatedly brought up and sent down and constantly miscast as a fourth liner because we were short of players. Having Mr. Moen and Mr. Darche in the lineup buys us some time and allows our youngsters to simmer in the AHL instead of being scorched in the bigs. Add a P.A. Parenteau and a Brandon Prust, and now you’re not sending out Ryan White, Yannick Weber and Petteri Nokelainen as your fourth line.
A final point is that Mathieu is a really smart guy who will have a future in hockey, whether in coaching, scouting, or management. I say we keep him in the fold and give him a soft landing when he retires as a player.

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