Neither Josh Gorges nor Brian Gionta were ever known as game-changing players during their tenure with Montreal. In fact, both of them were subject to a lot of criticism, especially the captain.
However, now that they've moved on, I think it's time to point out that they were two very important cogs in the organization, and that we wish them nothing but the best in Buffalo.
First, let's talk about Josh Gorges. He's certainly not the flashiest player in the league, yet he put forth an honest effort every single night, putting his body on the line for the Canadiens. Gorges blocked 1048 shots in 464 games with the Habs. He bled red, white and blue, and became a true leader of the club. He basically adopted Brendan Gallagher and showed him the ropes, along with mentoring many other young players.
Josh Gorges didn't want to leave Montreal, and the majority of Habs fans felt the same way, especially with the classy way he left. "I've loved every moment with the Montreal Canadiens".
He was a true Habs player until the end, even blocking a trade that would have sent him to the Maple Leafs, stating he couldn't invest himself emotionally on the other side of the rivalry, having spent all these years with the Canadiens. Players chase money all the time, but in this particular case Gorges' only request was not to be sent to one of Montreal's biggest rivals. It's tough not to respect that request.
Brian Gionta was a polarizing figure within the Montreal hockey community. The diminutive forward came to Montreal following the schism of the 2008 Canadiens. His natural leadership ability made him an easy choice as captain to replace the local hero, Saku Koivu.
Despite trying to fill some gigantic shoes (no one could replace Saku) Gionta did extremely well and constantly contributed offensively and defensively to the Habs.
In 303 games with the Canadiens he produced 97 goals and 77 assists, all the while facing the top quality of competition alongside Tomas Plekanec, something very few wingers have been able to accomplish in Montreal.
Brian Gionta was the epitome of an under-appreciated player during his tenure with the Habs, with his $5M price tag often clouding his positive contributions to the club.
Marc Bergevin probably made the right decision letting Gionta walk, and trading Gorges, however it certainly wasn't an easy one. A good GM has to make tough decisions, and in this particular case it had to be done.
On behalf of everyone at Eyes on the Prize, I would like to wish both of them luck and success with the Buffalo Sabres.
I'm not one to get emotionally invested in players. After all, it's just a game. Yet I think we should take a moment to appreciate both these proud members of the Canadiens, and remember the good times. Too often players leave on bad terms, and we're lucky that neither of these players are departing on a bitter note. They're both incredibly classy and respectful athletes that gave their all to help Montreal win. And let's be honest, Josh Gorges blocking a trade to Toronto was just about the perfect way to end his chapter with Montreal: Bleu-Blanc-Rouge until the very end, with the added benefit of one last block.
Thanks Josh and Brian, it was fun.