Gallant Heads Home
You know, it’s always something. Seems like every year, something goes sideways in training camp. A couple camps ago, Travis Fullerton gets arrested for DUI, Rob McCarthy gets busted for breaking curfew, and both are dismissed from the club, and deservedly so. Last season, David Perron never came back from St. Louis and Eric Castonguay went pro. This year, Brett Gallant heads home after being traded here from the Saint John Sea Dogs less than two weeks ago.
Now I have nothing against Gallant. He’s 20, wants to play closer to home, wants family close by, team in Summerside, PEI in MJAHL looks like it’s just the ticket for him. Good enough, go get ’em Brett, wish you all the best young man.
The void of his departure here is what may cause a late night or two for MAINEiacs GM & Head Coach Ed Harding as the table holding initial plan for the season start ended up getting tipped over. Alright, flipped over. Upside down. A bit messy all around the office.
Credit needs to be given where it is due. Harding, in my opinion, perfectly constructed this club to be a solid competitor in the TELUS Central Division, going up against Shawinigan, Drummondville and Victoriaville for quite a few games this season. The big piece in that puzzle, was Gallant. The effect of his departure is substantial.
With the Cataractes relying upon Ashton Bernard to patrol the ice, one player was better than him, and that was the former Sea Dog. The Voltigeurs have D Jeff Marcoux doing some of their dirty work, and the Tigres have D Maxime Robichaud doing some of theirs. Those are only three names. Several players on each club are very capable of causing havoc on the ice. Make no mistake about it, whomever wins the TELUS Central is going to grind, scrape and claw their way to the finish line. It’s going to be a good old-fashioned grudge match with a lot of cuts and bruises on all the teams in the division by the time March rolls around.
What made the Gallant deal almost ingenious for Harding was that he recently named MAINEiac fan fave and recent Atlanta Thrashers draftee Danick Paquette as the team captain. Paquette, known never to refuse a scrap when presented the opportunity, was put on the top line to minimize the number of bouts and do what he should do, and that is score a barrel of goals. Paquette’s value to this team is far more on the ice, than it is in the penalty box. Having Gallant here meant Paquette could play, and Gallant would patrol. Now Gallant is gone, and the MAINEiacs are exposed as a result. Every coach rolling into town will look to get Paquette into the box as many times as possible, for as long as possible. Danick, are you reading me here? Patience and tolerance, my dear lad. The maturity curve really got pushed up even moreso now.
As a result of bad luck, Harding will really need to think about what he’s going to do here to address this. With the underage training camp trade period just concluding, a 20 year-old overage player is really the only option between now and December. Camp did not yield the next enforcer for the club, so there is nothing in the farm worth whistling for. As a result of the nature of the situation, Lucas Labelle may have indeed secured himself an OA spot for at least the first half of the year, and perhaps all of it. Tom Michalik on the other hand could be the odd OA out if Harding makes a move.
The MAINEiacs 2008-09 campaign starts Friday in Baie-Comeau against the vaunted Drakkar, followed with a night of entertainment in Chicoutimi. Maybe as the team works through the Saguenay region, Harding has a coffee with Sagueneens GM & Head Coach Richard Martel and discusses the possible services of OA Mark Rechlicz. Just throwing that idea out there.
Ashton Bernard and the Cataractes spend home opening weekend in Lewiston the following week. One only can wonder if Bernard will have a dance partner by then, or will he pick who wants. The clock is ticking.