Monday, 26 August 2013

The Canadiens sign Douglas Murray; some fans still not happy

So the Canadiens announced that we'd signed the big tough 'crease-clearing' defenceman who'd protect Carey Price, and we already have a break in the ranks.  Marc Bergevin brought 6'3", 245 lb defenceman Douglas Murray into the fold, and there are those who are concerned that Mr. Murray may not be in tip top shape.  This would be based on an Arpon Basu remark during a radio interview that he has seen him in a dressing room context and that he carries a 'spare tire' around his middle.  So the addition of a veteran player to the roster at the cost of nothing save a very reasonable one-year contract is already decried by some.  Which I don't understand, or agree with.

Last season was a lockout season, and for a long while it did look like Gary Bettman would Leask-manoeuvre the season.  He seemed dead set on scuttling the ship and going down with it as opposed to letting it fall in enemy hands.  Bill 'The Hill' Daly was channeling George Armstrong Custer.  In that climate, I don't begrudge any veteran who took his foot off the gas with regards to his dryland summer training, and decided to give his body a break.  Good on those who had a 'good' lockout season, but everyone else gets a mulligan from me.

Further, from what little I know of Douglas Murray, there have often been whispers that his listed weight is a few pounds shy of the actual total on the scale, in the same manner as some more gargantuan offensive linemen, or Dustin Byfuglien.  Modesty imposes.  Watching Canucks games, you'd hear the announcers chortle at his massive size, but not in a negative way, more in an awestruck, 'I wish he were ours' manner.

So I have no reason to doubt Arpon Basu, and I'm not sure if it was a one-year, lockout-caused condition, and that he'll be more trim this training camp, or if this is just his now-normal playing weight.

As much as I love it when players are workout warriors like P.K. or Max, it's normal that some players are a little less dedicated to the gym.  There'll be a range in that regard, some coming in jacked like Lars, some who work kind of hard but don't really know how to get these results, or care to.  It takes all kinds.  If Douglas Murray found that he can be effective being a little heavier, he may have had no reason to change his formula.  We've all played with guys who weren't Men's Fitness cover models, but were the best once on the ice or field.

Anyway, my only strong image of Douglas Murray was during last season's playoffs, when he was handling the puck behind his net, and an opposition forward wheeled around the other side and tried to bodycheck him.  And it wasn't really like he hit a brick wall, since he didn't hit Mr. Murray and just crumple at his feet or deflect off him, but more like he'd shouldered into a trampoline, he literally bounced backwards.  So maybe the ten or twenty extra pounds he carries ensure that he's an immovable object, and there won't be any irresistible forces.

So to recap, the Canadiens have added the big tough defenceman everyone was clamouring for, especially because freight-train Alexei Emelin is injured and will be unavailable/convalescing/getting back up to speed from his knee injury.  Yes he's a lefty, which isn't optimal, and which is why I was campaigning for Jeff Schultz, and then less stridently Ryan O'Byrne, but I have to believe the Canadiens brain trust knew those two and others were available, and chose to come to an agreement with Mr. Murray instead.  He'll bring a physical, defensive component to our defensive corps that has been lacking, and will improve the mix of our team.  Yes, he's not a great skater or offensively gifted, but that's not why we signed him.  What he brings to the table we needed, badly.  Good job Mr. Bergevin.

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