From his shack in the Great No-longer-white North, Poor Len writes:
Tank youse, Ed. One of the reasons for the Habs' disastrous performance in 2017-18 was said management's failure and/or refusal to hang onto four Russian players who were at the heart of previous years' modest success:
- Alexandr Radulov - signed by Dallas as a free agent, for reasonable $$$ not offered by Montréal
- Mikhail Sergachev - promising rookie traded to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin, who proved, errr, not much
- Andrei Markov - went home to Russia when he couldn't get a two-year deal at the end of a contest of wills with Bergevin, and
- Alexei Emelin - not protected in the expansion draft, claimed by Las Vegas who promptly traded him to Nashville, where he resumed his fight with arch hotdog P.K. Subban, leading to relegation (of Emelin) to only a minor defensive role.
About 13 months ago, when the approaching iceberg could be seen clearly even from the cheap seats of le Centre Bell [Where dey? Ed.], I advised, then begged Marc Bergevin to bring back the Russians! See "Time for Habs fans to panic?", WWW 28/9/17 and "Bring back the Russians!", WWW 9/10/17.
There was no way to repatriate [??? to Canada ??? Ed.] Radulov and Sergachev, but Markov could probably have been persuaded to break his KHL contract -- anything's possible in Russia -- and Nashville might have been open to a trade for Emelin, when it became clear he wasn't going to fit in there. But would the pig-headed Bergevin listen to me? Nooooo... And so the good ship Canadien hit the ice bergevin and went down with only 71 points. See "Poor Len Canayen's wrap-up of the Habs' annus horribilis", WWW 3/3/18.
So now it's a new year. I was pleased to see Markov's team, Ak Bars Kazan, win the KHL championship. He still has one year on his contract there. And guess who's going back to Russia to play in the same league? None other than... wait for it... Alexei Emelin! He's just signed with Avangard Omsk, who announced their good fortune with an image of the fearsome defenceman in his Habs sweater.
Now listen up, Marc, because I'm only going to say this one more time. In Russia, everything and everybody has a price. Especially in places like Kazan and Omsk, which are not exactly the centres of Russia, let alone the centres of the universe. How much could it take to convince their clubs to pry loose with Markov and Emelin, both of who are in their 30s [Markov will be 40 on December 20th. Ed.] and would be happy to return to the fleshpots of la Belle Province, provided that they can get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Marc, I have heard you don't like Russians. But do you like winning? Do you like your job? Get on that phone, buddy. Get `em back here!!!