Thursday, 14 November 2013

Alexei Emelin returns, Francis Bouillon gets a pat on the back, a seat in the pressbox

I dislike the social media meme that Michel Therrien will play Francis Bouillon at the expense of better players and the team’s best interests, putatively because Francis is a homeboy and they have a history together dating back to junior. Sure, there is a comfort level there and lots of loyalty probably that goes both ways, and that’s actually a positive, but to imply anything more is just part of the ongoing character assassination of the head coach, for reasons that verge on intolerance sometimes.

Frankie was signed to a one-year contract two summers ago as a cheap and able veteran who knows the lay of the land and has/had proven himself in the eyes of the coach. He was extended for another year last season, since the experiment proved successful, as opposed to others like Michael Ryder and Jeff Halpern and Armdog, all of whom were conversely allowed to walk. No sinister motives there, no backroom dealings, no undue influence from everyone’s bugaboo François Gagnon, just a player who was cost-effective and plugged a hole in the roster and brought experience and leadership and the ability to play minutes when needed. The thing is, it was widely believed when the extension was announced that this would probably be his last season/contract, that he would be a placeholder while injured players mended, and kids in the minors learned their craft.

If anyone is dubious that a Québécois would be retained by the current administration past their due date purely for marketing reasons, just refer back to Mathieu Darche, who the Canadiens wrung dry, and then when they felt he had nothing left to contribute replaced with Colby Armstrong.

So the contingency plan that is Francis Bouillon has worked, in that while Alexei Emelin rehabbed, and while Davis Drewiske and Douglas Murray suffered training camp injuries, and while Jarred Tinordi proved to be not quite prepared to take a regular shift in the NHL, Francis was ready and able to play. He isn’t an All-Star, he has had some rough nights, but he’s given everything he has and everything we can expect from a 38 year old earning $1.5M. Now that Douglas Murray is completing his in-season training camp and rounding into form, and Alexei Emelin is about ready to return, Francis will probably see some pressbox duty as he rightfully assumes his duties as the #7 D-man who climbed higher in the lineup as needed.

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