Thursday, February 4, 2010

KOMISAREK: THE ONE THAT (WE'RE GLAD) GOT AWAY

It started out with so much promise.
When the Montreal Canadiens drafted Mike Komisarek in the first round, seventh overall, in 2001, the numbers alone were worth getting excited about: 6 foot 4, 245 pounds. The Canadiens hadn't had a defenceman of those proportions and that highly touted since, well, forever. The guy made Larry Robinson look like Skinny Minnie Miller.
Komisarek progressed up the hockey ladder from the University of Michigan Wolverines to the Hamilton Bulldogs on his way to becoming one half of the Canadiens' top defensive pairing, alongside Andrei Markov. He was a fearless shot blocker and a punishing body checker who drew favorable comparisons to Scott Stevens as the prototype physical defensive defenceman of his generation.
Then he ran afoul of Milan Lucic, and everything changed.
Komisarek hasn't been the same player since November 13, 2008 when he lost one of the most one-sided fights involving the Canadiens and Bruins since Stan Jonathan's epic mauling of Pierre Bouchard in 1978. Whether it was the lingering effects of a shoulder injury he suffered in the fight, shattered confidence, or a combination of the two, Komisarek struggled through the remainder of his final season with the Canadiens, and his departure as an unrestricted free agent last summer was met with little if any of the collective angst generated by the departures of Alex Kovalev and - to a lesser extent - Saku Koivu.
Komisarek got a nice deal in Toronto - 22.5 million dollars over five years - and as much as it's considered high treason in these parts to sign with the hated Leafs, I believe most reasonably-minded Canadiens fans probably wished him well, because he played hard for the Habs and is by all accounts a decent guy.
Sadly for Komisarek, things have gone from bad to worse. He is chief among the underachievers on a hugely disappointing Toronto team, and his misfortune peaked this week with the announcement that Komisarek will undergo season-ending surgery on that same shoulder that hasn't been right since he got his lunch handed to him by Lucic.
Hal Gill and Paul Mara might not be Bobby Orr and Paul Coffey, but they're relatively healthy (Mara's day-to-day - upper body), and the two of them combined don't represent as big a salary cap hit as Komisarek alone would have if the Canadiens had met his price.
Sometimes, the best free agent signings are the ones you DON'T make.

6 comments:

  1. You nailed Komisarek Ted. It never ceases to amaze me how brilliant you are when you agree with me. He was never the same after Lucic. Scot Stevens before, a future captain, behind the bench when injured in suit helping out, he was our golden boy. After...tentative, ineffective, a shadow of his former self after Lucic mauled him. Gainey knew the score when he let him go, a good move. I miss Koivu's heart, but I don't miss Kovalev's madening inconsistency.

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  2. I for one did not wish him well in the least. Something about the way he departed left a sour taste in my mouth - both as a player and as a person. I obviously don't know the guy, but that's just my opinion.

    Call it schadenfreude, Karmasarek, whatever you want - but I squirm with glee at the thought of him missing the rest of the season and the Olympics, especially since it's widely speculated that the only reason he was going to the Olympics was the Leafs/Burke factor.

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  3. Perhaps if Lucic hadn't served lunch to Komy that faithful November day, maybe his assets would have been worth it for the Habs to keep him. I guess it's just wishful thinking.

    On the other hand, I agree "sometimes the best free agent signings are the ones you DON'T make" but when it's time to decide something, the worst decisions are the ones you don't make at all.

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  4. I'm not a religious guy but....... Amen!

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  5. Skinny Minnie Miller. OMG! I haven't heard that name in ages. So funny. You have to be at least 45 to know who this was. I just love it. thanks for the laugh Ted.

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  6. While Gainey choosing to sign Gill and Mara (both making a combined salary of $6 mil or so, both past their prime, Gill slower than molasses on a cold January morning), also choosing to sign Spacek for $4 mil (again another D man past his prime and not that much better than Gill or Mara) over Komisarek who 10 years younger, once healthy "could" get back to playing like he once did 2 years ago, I am wondering if spending the $5.5 mil on Komisarek who has allot more upside than these 3 D man the Habs currently, may not have been a bargain!
    I shake my head everytime I see an oposing player blow by Gill, Spacek and Mara (when he is actually playing)leaving them looking for the jockstraps, which is at least once per game. And for a man who is bigger than Komisarek (refering to Gill) one would think this guy would be a beast on the ice crushing opponents with ease. Yet he plays like someone who looks like he belongs in the Disney On Ice tour skating ever so gently while waving a dainty colored flag!

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