Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/14/13
One of the things that sets Montreal apart from most cities is the passion the citizenry displays for the Canadiens. That’s why nobody should be surprised that Denis Coderre, the city’s newly elected mayor, has strong opinions about the team and isn’t shy about sharing them. Coderre used his Twitter account to weigh in on the performance of centre David Desharnais during the Canadiens-New York Islanders game Sunday. Coderre said the Canadiens should provide Desharnais with a one-way ticket to Hamilton. Coach Michel Therrien responded to the tweet by calling the comment “inappropriate.” Max Pacioretty, who has been Desharnais’s close friend and linemate going back to their time together in Hamilton with the American Hockey League’s Bulldogs, said the comment was “embarrassing.” Said Pacioretty: “To bring down such a player, such a great person, such a great player, such a hard worker ... that’s uncalled for.” Coderre’s profile has made this is a bigger issue than it should be, but it’s a reminder that nearly everyone in this city lives and breathes hockey and they all have opinions about what’s happening on the ice. I get enough emails and listen to TSN Radio 690 often enough to know Coderre isn’t the only one who’s unhappy with Desharnais’s performance. In fact, it’s safe to say Therrien isn’t happy because he banished Desharnais to the press box for Tuesday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the second time this season Desharnais has been a healthy scratch. Therrien and Pacioretty miss some essential points in L’Affaire Coderre. It’s not inappropriate for the fans — who are ultimately paying the players’ salaries — to express their opinions about a player’s performance and it shouldn’t make a difference if the fan happens to be the mayor. I will second Pacioretty’s comments about Desharnais being a good person and a hard worker, but this isn’t about character. Professional sports is a results-driven business and Desharnais hasn’t produced. He has only one assist in 17 games despite averaging more than 15 minutes of ice time per game, including time with the No. 2 power play in the NHL. Desharnais’s situation isn’t helped by his contract situation. Marc Bergevin hasn’t made many missteps in his short tenure as general manager, but the four-year, $14-million extension he gave Desharnais in March is starting to look like a mistake. The contract has made Desharnais a victim of the Patrice Brisebois Syndrome. You might recall that during the height of his career with the Canadiens, the Bell Centre fans booed every little mistake Brisebois made. The jeering became such an issue that former general manager Bob Gainey felt compelled to defend the defenceman and slam the fans. Much of the Brisebois criticism was related to his $4-million salary, which was one of the highest on the roster at the time. Brisebois rejoined the Canadiens late in his career and was treated with more respect when he was making a mere $750,000.
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