When you're in media 24/7 and people are always asking for your opinion on things, you have to say some controversial things from time to time. Sometimes this will be your opinion, sometimes it will be something no one else has thought about, sometimes you'll be playing devil's advocate, and sometimes you'll be nursing a grudge.
And if you're in it only to get as much popularity as possible, sometimes you say things that are based on very little, and won't back away from them for years, no matter how wrong you obviously are. This is the situation Pierre McGuire finds himself in whenever someone brings up the trade of Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz. You see, McGuire uses a common talking head tactic to support his negative view of that trade, and that is to be as vague as possible while masking it as being introspective.
McGuire does this all the time, but he gets caught up in it most often when talking about the Montreal Canadiens, most likely because they're his favourite team and emotion sneaks into his analysis more often than with other teams.
McGuire is the only colour commentator in the sport that ever brings anything of value during games; even though many people are annoyed by him, and he talks too much, he's a smart commentator. The problem comes when he's asked to talk even more, because then the vagueness sneaks in.
A great example of that was leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry draft, with P.K. Subban not signed to a new contract, McGuire suggested on TSN that the Montreal Canadiens would be well served to trade Subban and the third overall pick to the Oilers for the first overall pick "and something". What is "and something"? McGuire never elaborated on what it would take.
This generated headlines, it got people listening to McGuire more intently on TSN and TSN690. This was incredibly lazy nonsense. There was no analysis, there was no anything. It was HF Boards quality trash not fit for television. It wasn't fit for air either when he repeated it on the radio.
McGuire is very much about McGuire, and this was all about self promotion.
McGuire is also a very emotional guy, and that's where we bridge the vague self promotion with today's topic.
They could have got more
It's a simple statement, and on the surface, it sounds like a reasonable position. This is Pierre McGuire's complaint about the Halak trade. In his opinion, the Canadiens could have got more for Halak if they'd created a bidding war. That sounds like a legitimate complaint, right? Paul Holmgren mentioned after the trade that he wasn't contacted, remember?
Oh wait, no. That's actually completely vague nonsense that you could use to justify hating any trade.
The Quebec Nordiques could have got more if they'd waited until the eleventh hour instead of accepting both deals for Eric Lindros. Prove that wrong.
The Colorado Avalanche knew that the Canadiens were desperate in 1995 and could have got more back in the Patrick Roy trade. Prove that wrong.
The Los Angeles Kings knew that Edmonton was in financial trouble and could have given up far less in exchange for Wayne Gretzky. Prove that wrong.
All of these things are obviously wrong, but they're worded in a way that the complaints, if presented well, sound reasonable. They are not reasonable. This line of logic is akin to saying "The Penguins messed up in signing Sidney Crosby for $8.7M per year because they could have signed him for less". Could they have? It doesn't matter, we don't know, you can't know. It's utter nonsense designed to sound legitimate.
They also ignore external factors like wanting to trade a player to a different conference. This plays in greatly with trades like Halak's as well as Schneider's.
Letting emotion get in the way
So then why does McGuire hate that trade so much? Why is he married to his opinion? Well, if you listen to TSN690 a lot and you hear McGuire's guest spots around 5PM on Mitch Melnick's show, and if you listened during Pierre Gauthier's reign as Habs GM, you'd know.
McGuire hates Gauthier. He hates him a lot, and it's painfully obvious. It likely stems from Gauthier screwing McGuire over when they were both in the Senators organization, when Gauther nixed a chance for Pierre to join another team, and fired him shortly after. Hell, if someone did that to me, I'd nurse that grudge for a long time too. I don't blame McGuire for that, but it colours his analysis of everything Gauthier does.
We've already gone over the trade value of goaltenders in the NHL, and determined that for a player of Halak's experience, the Canadiens got more than good value. Ian Schultz didn't pan out, yet Lars Eller has given more value to the team since the trade than Halak has provided for the Blues, and he's still getting better and going into restricted free agency while Halak is up for unrestricted free agency.
If you begin your analysis from a conclusion and look for evidence to support that, and all you can find is vague notions of "they could have got more", you should probably take a moment to reflect, and admit you're wrong. Saying "It could have been better", when a trade has obviously been a giant success, isn't analysis, it's being married to an opinion you know is wrong. You look a lot smarter, and a lot more professional, if you just admit that you were wrong on this one.
Then again, McGuire still hasn't explained when Dmitri Orlov is going to be the next Sergei Zubov. We're still waiting on that one too, Pierre.
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