What if the Habs Had Acquired Owen Nolan within the Patrick Roy Deal?
Twenty-five years in the past tonight, the Montreal Canadiens suffered their most lopsided defeat in franchise historical past. The 11-1 drubbing by the hands of the Detroit Crimson Wings, Slava Kozlov had 4 targets, Sergei Fedorov 5 factors. Mike Keane was minus-5 on the evening. And Patrick Roy, who allowed 9 targets on 26 pictures, performed his final sport for the Canadiens.Everyone knows what adopted. Roy, who had informed Canadiens president Ronald Corey that he had simply performed his final sport for the workforce after being pulled, accused former teammate and Canadiens coach Mario Tremblay of protecting him within the internet to humiliate him. 4 days after the sport, Roy was the centerpiece of a deal to the Colorado Avalanche together with Mike Keane in trade for goalie Jocelyn Thibault and forwards Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. The Canadiens haven’t had many darkish days of their franchise historical past, however this could rank as one among them.However maybe it didn’t should end up as badly because it did for the Canadiens. In accordance with Without end Canadien, the biography of former Canadiens GM Serge Savard written by Philippe Cantin, Savard had a take care of Avalanche GM Pierre Lacroix to commerce Roy to the Colorado in trade for Owen Nolan and goalie Stephane Fiset. However after the Canadiens misplaced their first 4 video games of the 1995-96 season and have been outscored by a mixed 20-4, the Canadiens fired each Savard and coach Jacques Demers and changed them with Rejean Houle and Tremblay.The attention-grabbing factor, in response to Savard’s guide, is that Roy would have been dealt out of Montreal, and more likely to the Avalanche, no matter whether or not he or Houle was the GM. “Patrick had gotten too large for the workforce,” Savard says within the guide. “He took up an excessive amount of house within the locker room and he had an excessive amount of affect on the coach. In earlier years, I’d needed to take care of him with child gloves. I nonetheless admired him simply as a lot as I had throughout our Stanley Cup runs in 1986 and 1993, the place he performed an instrumental position. However a change of surroundings had turn out to be obligatory. The workforce revolved far an excessive amount of round him. For everybody’s sake, he wanted a change of surroundings.”Savard mentioned he had been talking with Lacroix in regards to the Roy-for-Nolan-and-Fiset deal, however was fired by the Canadiens on Oct. 17, 1995. 9 days later, Lacroix dealt Nolan to the San Jose Sharks for defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. “In 1994, when the Nordiques put Mats Sundin available on the market, I used to be inquisitive about buying him,” Savard goes on to say. “Would they’ve demanded Patrick Roy in return? Possibly. I don’t know if I’d have agreed. At that time, I wasn’t considering of buying and selling him. So severe talks by no means befell. A commerce as large as that between our two organizations would have been virtually unthinkable. However now that the Nordiques had turn out to be the Avalanche, there was nothing to get in the best way.”(I’d like to corroborate all of this with the principals concerned, however none of them appears to be within the temper to speak about it. I reached out to Roy by the Quebec Remparts and was informed Roy shouldn’t be doing interviews. Identical with Lacroix. Tremblay didn’t return a cellphone name or textual content message.)So the query is, would the Canadiens have been higher off with Nolan and Fiset reasonably than Rucinsky, Kovalenko and Thibault? In all probability. However the goaltenders have been in all probability a wash. Each turned out to be good, not nice goalies on the NHL stage. And by way of manufacturing, Rucinsky was really fairly good for Montreal. As for Kovalenko, he performed solely that season with the Canadiens, scoring 17 targets and 34 factors in 51 video games earlier than being dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for Scott Thornton.From 1995-96 by 2000-01, Rucinsky scored 136 targets and 304 factors in 434 video games for the Canadiens earlier than being dealt to the Dallas Stars early within the 2001-02 season. In the identical time period, Nolan scored 165 targets and 351 factors in 441 video games. However whereas the distinction in offensive output wasn’t as dangerous because it may appear, the fact is that in these years, Nolan was establishing himself as one of many league’s most feared energy forwards. He additionally had way more productive years than Rucinsky after 2000-01. However who is aware of how he would have reacted to the stress of enjoying in Montreal? He might very properly have thrived, nevertheless it’s not a scenario that everybody can deal with. In San Jose, he was in a position to play in relative anonymity.Assuming Nolan would have been in a position to carry out as properly in Montreal as he did in San Jose, the Canadiens would have executed significantly better with Nolan. However much more, they might not have needed to half with Keane, who was a heart-and-soul participant who would have been in a position to assist the Canadiens gamers chart the uneven waters that have been forward of them. When the Roy commerce was made, the Canadiens have been two seasons faraway from profitable a Stanley Cup, though they missed the playoffs in Roy’s final season as a Canadien. After Roy left, the Canadiens couldn’t advance previous the second spherical of the playoffs for 3 seasons, then adopted that up by lacking the playoffs solely in 4 of the subsequent 5.For his half, Savard says he thought he was higher positioned to commerce Roy than Houle was. “I believed my credibility among the many followers was sufficient for the deal to be accepted,” Savard says within the guide. “Patrick would have left the Canadiens quietly. And with Fiset and Nolan, we’d have been very properly positioned for the long run.”