Polarization on social media about the Canadiens? How odd. Today's topic of discord is Raphaël Diaz, and whether he's an excellent offensive defenceman, or whether he's crap and shouldn't be playing on the team this year. Chris Nilan on his TSN Radio show has opined that he shouldn't be on the team, since he's not big or physical enough, which is fine and open to debate, but now some defend Mr. Diaz by assailing the former Canadiens tough guy. Trenches are being dug.
Why can't we split it down the middle? Let's agree that he's a good skater and puck mover, shows some affinity for the offensive side of the game, can break out of the zone pretty well, and is valuable at this juncture for our team since he's a rightie, the only one on the blue line with P.K. Let's also allow that while he has shown this in flashes, he hasn't been able to put a full convincing season together, due to injuries, lockout, Jacques Martin, etc. Let's admit that when the elbows fly and the refs won't blow their whistles and slow things down because they have a plane to catch, he's at a disadvantage, as he is when he has to go dig the puck out of the corner against Patrick Kaleta and Steve Ott.
Since he's the only rightie other than P.K., and since our young D-men in Hamilton aren't really being held back, since they all could stand to spend more time learning the pro game in a lower level, and since there seems to be a pretty good fit in partnering him with Douglas Murray, whose strengths will make up for Raphaël's areas where he's challenged, why don't we give him half a season to prove himself? If it's a disaster, and doesn't work, we can make adjustments mid-season. Easy-peasy.
Here's a player we signed for free out of Switzerland, he's a UFA next summer so his contract isn't an issue, and he can still improve, as he's done consistently since he first took to the ice in bleu blanc rouge. There's no need for histrionics, this is just one of many variables on the team that need to be monitored and addressed if game action demonstrates it's necessary. Maybe Raphaël puts it together this year, thrives with the burly Swede next to him, and proves himself worthy of a new contract, or we figure he's dispensable and can flip him before the deadline or let him seek his fortune elsewhere in July.
We can all give our opinion and predictions on this matter, but we shouldn't drag Chris Nilan's good name into this, and shouldn't be calling each other names, that's the Bruins' fans job.