Friday, November 2, 2007

Halak rumoured to have asked for trade

You just gotta love how rumours get started in this hockey mad town. The Team 990 has very few resources to hire solid sports personalities beyond Mitch Melnick who I've listened to in Montreal for years and like a lot. During his "The Stock Exchange" show however, P.J. Stock told his listeners that a source had just informed him that Jaroslav Halak had asked to be traded or else he'd "return to Russia". Of course he's from Slovakia but no matter. Halak has since denied the claim and none of the local sports media in Hamilton had even heard any whispers about it.

Enter the Internet blogger. Strip the rumour of it's source, change or omit a few details and claim said rumour as your own... from an unnamed source close to them of course. Now it can be used to bolster the longstanding rumour that Halak will soon be traded.

Enter the lazy print reporter. You know it's just a matter of time before the papers pick up on the Internet rumour version, claim their source is an "insider close to the team" and run with it. It's almost entertaining to see how sports journalists refer to each others made up stories as sourced information when in fact, it's beyond rare that trade rumours start with anyone that's actually close to a team.

So, could Halak be traded during the season? Sure it's possible but not likely. In fact, I'd call it a long shot at best when you consider the situation. Cristobal Huet is a UFA on July 1st and not likely to return with the arrival of Carey Price. With Huet on the way out, why on earth would GM Bob Gainey part with Halak as well and go from great depth in goal to razor thin at the position with just Yann Danis being the only goalie left capable of backing up Carey Price?

Okay then, what about trading Huet instead, before he walks via UFA? It's the more likely scenario but when was the last time the Habs went with 2 goalies with barely any NHL experience? Even when Patrick Roy won the #1 job in 85-86 from Steve Penny (just 4 years older) the Habs quickly reached out for Brian Hayward the following year. If the Habs are within range of a playoff spot as the trade deadline nears Huet will likely be kept as insurance but if things go bad as they did last year he'll be the one traded, not Halak.

Next season I fully expect to see Jaroslav Halak backing up Carey Price and I'm sure Bob Gainey has quietly mentioned it to both Halak and his agent.


UPDATE: Friday, November 02, 12:10pm

Well, it didn't take long for Yvon Pedneault to jump and claim Halak that did in fact request a trade. Too bad he declined to mention that P.J. Stock was his source but not an independant source of his own. Yet another example of journalists pointing to each other's self-created rumours as "unnamed sources close to the team".


UPDATE: Saturday, November 03, 3:00pm

Finally some clarity. When Halak was cut from the Canadiens and sent down to Hamilton, he was offered a contract from an unidentified Russian Super League team. Halak refused the offer, believing that going to play in Russia won't help him get him any closer to play in the NHL. Halak's agent also denied that any trade demands have been made and believes his client is best served staying in Hamilton until things sort themselves out in the coming months.

For those that speak French, here's the story: