It was supposed to be a slam dunk. You have a plethora of cap space and one elite defenceman to sign, hopefully long-term, what could go wrong?
Turns out that what we all thought was a slam dunk turned into a half-court buzzer beater. Marc Bergevin and company seem to be losing control of the situation, as evidenced by the fact that a third party will decide P.K. Subban's value on a one-year deal.
What does this mean for Habs fans?
For one, things could actually get worse. As it stands P.K. Subban is going to be playing as a member of the Montreal Canadiens next year, which means that the Habs will get to hold onto their superstar for at least one more season, with the possibility of more down the road.
Of course, this is assuming that Subban is up for another frustrating attempt to sign a long term deal next season. Thankfully, Subban is the type of player that can go through hell and back, only to declare that it was a learning experience.
Unfortunately, it was a learning experience for the fans as well. If we had any inclination to believe that Habs management was uncertain of Subban's worth when they forced him to sign a bridge contract two years ago, we've got our confirmation. It seems, to me at least, that the Habs don't actually know what they have on their hands.
They gave him a 'show-me' contract, and how did Subban respond? A Norris trophy, a gold medal, flat out dominant play and the rise to one of the best players in the league, that's all. If that's not enough for management to finally realize what type of player they're lucky to possess, I'm not sure what is.
It's easy for us to criticize as fans, we wanted a deal done months ago, and no one expected the situation to get to this point, however both sides are simply trying to do what's best for them. Bergevin is trying to save money, and Subban is trying to get paid for his play.
Yet, my main gripe is that you don't try to save money on a player like Subban. Why penny-pinch in this particular situation? No good can come from it. You pay your best players as if they're best players, and try to cut the fat from bottom tier plumbers, not your superstar. As indicated by his agent, Subban isn't looking to become the highest paid d-man in the league, but there's no doubt that he wants his fair share of the pie. The kicker here is that there's no doubt that he deserves one of the richest contracts in the league. He's a great hockey player and he hasn't even hit his prime yet.
Although we've tried to maintain an even keel throughout this fiasco, most of us at EOTP are quite frustrated with the current state of affairs, and I have to admit that I am too.
The one saving grace? It's P.K. Subban. He has a history of taking adversity and turning it to prosperity. If it was any other player I would have lost hope by now, but things are always different when it comes to Subban. Even after the arbitration hearing Subban said all the right things, albeit without his usual smile.
I have faith that the young man will come out of this unscathed, because frankly that's all we have at this point, a hope and a prayer. Yet I'm not entirely confident he'll emerge from this as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, which is incredibly worrisome. I see other franchises jump at the chance to lock up their best young players. Other teams will roll out the red carpet, work on a big announcement and give them the respect they've earned. As per usual, this isn't the case for Subban.
Marc Bergevin needs to come to the realization that not only is he playing with fire, he's threatening his entire legacy as general manager of the Canadiens. Hell, he's threatening the viability of the franchise for the foreseeable future as well. Good managers learn from their mistakes and grow, let's just hope that Bergevin has learned to see the forest for the trees, because at the moment he seems lost.
Frustration, confusion and even anger are the themes of the day for Habs fans, and I can't say I blame them. It's very much justified in this particular setting.
Is there a silver lining in this entire situation? Who knows. Maybe we're all exaggerating. Players like Subban come around every 25 years, so Montreal probably won't regret treating their star like an third pairing defencemen.