What if Cam Neely had been dealt to Montreal as a substitute of Boston?
Droop your disbelief for a second and picture this, should you can. Whereas struggling mightily as a third-year NHL participant with the Vancouver Canucks and on the precipice of turning into a bust, Cam Neely is dealt, to not the Boston Bruins, however to their hated rival, the Montreal Canadiens through the 1985-86 season. Simply take into consideration that for a minute and the way a lot would have been so totally different if that had occurred. Thoughts blown, proper?Now it’s important to know that that is truly not just a few form of fantasy. It got here very, very near taking place, in response to the person who was on the heart of the commerce talks. In his just lately launched approved biography, Serge Savard – Ceaselessly Canadien, the Habs legend detailed how he had a deal in ’85-86 with the Canucks that may have had the long run Corridor of Famer in a Canadiens uniform in change for the very workmanlike and unspectacular Mike McPhee. Savard balked on the deal and Neely was dealt to the Bruins that summer time for Barry Pederson in probably the most lopsided trades in NHL historical past. (It seems the McPhee traded in all probability would have labored out higher for Vancouver, however would have been larceny nonetheless.)“I used to be scared to dying as a result of I used to be a younger supervisor,” Savard advised TheHockeyNews.com. “I went to Vancouver and Tom Watt was the coach and he was my coach in Winnipeg so I knew him very nicely. And (Watt) was in love with McPhee. (Neely) was a younger participant and he wasn’t enjoying nicely and I knew McPhee was a fairly good participant who would give me character. Not loads of objectives, however I stored him as a result of I didn’t have the heart to make that commerce.”Or how about this? In response to Savard’s e book, Patrick Roy’s controversial final sport as a Canadien on Dec. 2, 1995, an 11-1 loss to the Detroit Pink Wings wherein Roy advised Canadiens president, “It’s my final sport in Montreal,” could have been the tipping level for him to be dealt, however Savard had already made up his thoughts that Roy was going to be traded. In actual fact, he was deep into talks with Colorado GM Pierre Lacroix on a Roy commerce when he was fired by the Canadiens 4 video games into the 1995-96 season. And as a substitute of getting fleeced on the deal, Savard was placing collectively a commerce that may have netted the Canadiens energy ahead Owen Nolan and goalie Stephane Fiset, the previous of whom was dealt to San Jose by the Avalanche 9 days after Savard was fired by the Canadiens.Within the first pages of the e book, Savard guarantees to not maintain something again and he doesn’t do this within the subsequent 450-plus pages. Savard places all of it on the market, actually from his delivery at 14 kilos (14 kilos!) and his childhood in Landrienne in Quebec’s Abitibi area to his unlikely ascension to the NHL, the early troubles that preceded an excellent profession earlier than happening to NHL administration and every kind of success in enterprise. The e book, written by longtime Quebec sports activities columnist Philippe Cantin, has already bought greater than 35,000 copies in French and has just lately been launched in English.There may be, after all, an extended checklist of gamers who’ve gained a number of Stanley Cups. And there’s one other of GMs who’ve executed it. However the checklist of those that have executed each is definitely fairly small. For the reason that NHL shaped in 1917-18, solely Jack Adams, Eddie Gerard, Lester Patrick, Milt Schmidt, Bob Gainey, Brian MacLellan and Savard have gained in each roles. And as a participant, no person did it greater than Savard, who gained a mind-boggling eight Cups in 15 years with the Canadiens. The 2 he gained as a GM with the Canadiens in 1986 and ’93, coincidentally, are the newest by the storied group. As a participant, Savard nearly missed out on being a Canadien, being invited to a junior camp solely after the Canadiens forgot that that they had not advised him to trouble not displaying up. And as a GM, he stepped into the job simply weeks after enjoying his final playoff sport with the Winnipeg Jets. However in each his roles, he rose to the highest of his occupation and, if you mix his contribution to the Canadiens as a participant and government, is among the most essential figures within the historical past of the group.But it surely wasn’t simply that he gained with the Canadiens. It was additionally how he did it. When he took over the hockey operations in 1983, the Canadiens had been in a fierce battle with the Quebec Nordiques in a rivalry that competed for the hearts and minds of Quebec hockey followers. The Nordiques by no means did win a Stanley Cup and in the end left the province, whereas Savard led the Canadiens to the promise land twice. And he did it by making certain the Canadiens drafted Quebec-born gamers, resembling Roy, Stephane Richer, Claude Lemieux, Eric Desjardins, Patrice Brisebois, Benoit Brunet, Gilbert Dionne and Donald Dufresne. He supplemented that with trades for the likes of Vincent Damphousse and Jean-Jacques Daigneault and signing Quebec-born free brokers resembling Stephane Lebeau, Jesse Belanger and Mario Roberge. Savard mentioned he at all times strived to have the Canadiens roster made up the identical means it was when he performed, with roughly half of it made up of Quebec gamers. His 1994 draft, wherein he obtained Petr Svoboda, Shayne Corson, Richer and Roy within the first three rounds, is thought to be one of many single-best drafts in NHL historical past.“I needed guys who would spend the summer time in Montreal,” Savard mentioned. “Once I performed and we misplaced within the playoffs, individuals would ask, ‘What occurred? Are you going to win the Cup subsequent 12 months?’ To me, that was actually essential as a result of that’s the way in which I grew up with the Canadiens group.”To make sure, Savard’s tenure with the Canadiens each as a participant and government harkens again to a greater and, clearly, much more profitable time for the franchise. And never solely as a result of he’s been a part of the final 10 Stanley Cups the Canadiens have gained. In response to Savard, the Canadiens have put much less of an emphasis on making their former gamers really feel snug and he typically looks like an outcast within the group. Savard mentioned an possession group headed by him stepped apart when a consortium headed by the Molson household made clear its intention to buy the Canadiens in 2009. When present group president Geoff Molson recruited Savard to discover a new GM for the group that resulted within the hiring of Marc Bergevin, he claims within the e book that Molson additionally provided him an unspecified job that by no means materialized. One of the vital damning quotes comes within the remaining pages of the e book when Savard says, “However immediately, and I say this with some disappointment, I typically get an odd feeling: that my loyalty to the Molsons was stronger than their loyalty to me.”“That’s precisely how I really feel,” Savard mentioned. “I’m not saying that they’re enemies. I don’t actually have dangerous emotions (towards the Molsons). They’re pals. However that harm me just a little bit. That’s why I (mentioned) it.”