A little bizarre how the Josh Gorges contract and status story is exploding now. I made a pithy observation this season, wondering what compensation he gets for housing Brendan Gallagher his first couple of seasons in Montréal. I figure he can't get any financial remuneration, that would be seen as a breach of the CBA, but wondered whether it made his No Trade Clause "even more iron-clad", whether he'd again gone above and beyond and cemented his status as a core player.
The fact that he's commenting now on the situation shows that Bob McKenzie's tweet didn't just reflect that the Leafs enquired, were rebuffed, and someone at MLSE had loose lips. There's more of a concerted effort from the Canadiens to move him, it's not just other teams sniffing around.
We remember how Josh's contract happened, how he and Pierre Gauthier couldn't come to terms on a long-term deal in 2011, so they hatched a one-year deal to put things off, and maybe see what the lay of the land was. He signed a $2.5M deal, and we all thought that was a bargain, and there was much handwringing that we were about to lose him as a UFA come July. We were in the throes of the Roman Hamrlik-Jaroslav Spacek era, Andrei Markov was injured, we couldn't envision losing Josh at that time.
Then the new contract was announced mid-way through the season, and we gasped at the amount, a not inconsiderable $3.9M, and the term, which at six years seemed like an eternity. Realists thought it was market value, and we'd made our bed by not agreeing to a deal earlier, we couldn't do much better with a gun to our temple. The optimists tried to see the good side, how what looked like a huge amount would eventually seem quite reasonable as the cap went up.
I like Josh, maybe more as a person than what he contributes, and like having him on my team, but at the time I couldn't shake the feeling that we had been struck by 'Leafs disease', the symptoms of which are an average player being forced into a role more demanding than he should fill, and getting lots of press and hype as a result, then getting a contract out of proportion with the talent and potential he possesses (for a recent example, see Bozak, Tyler).
A couple of years went by, and it appeared that the 'pill', as difficult to swallow as it might have seemed at first, was going to go down. Maybe we were more focused on the Tomas Kaberles and Scott Gomezes in the meantime, the guys who were getting paid obscene amounts of money in return for no value. Josh faded into the background.
Now, with money needed for P.K. and Andrei and some enticing free agents on the market who'd do nicely here, Josh is caught in the spotlight again. Daniel Brière would seem to be a more likely candidate for this kind of attention, but it's a surplus of leftie d-men we have, not a surplus of scoring forwards. Plus, Daniel's contract is up next summer, Josh's deal has an interminable four more years to go.
We talked about players whose contracts "suck", like Roberto Luongo found out, and Vincent Lecavalier, and many others. Josh's agent rolled the dice and seemed to have come up sevens when he signed his big deal, but it's now hurting his client. If he'd signed closer to a $3M deal, Josh would be a foundation player, a cost-effective piece who would draw only positive attention.
We often talk about how the NHL is a business, and Josh is caught up in that now. A consideration is that the contract wasn't signed by Marc Bergevin's team, so he doesn't feel any compunction in shopping the player, it's not an admission of a mistake on his part. All we can hope is that he lands somewhere out West, closer to his beloved Kelowna, where he can play an integral role and have success.