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Why would anyone want to play for the Montreal Canadiens?

Harrison Mooney
Puck Daddy

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Gauthier (Getty)

Last Sunday, the 2012 NHLPA/CBC Sports Players Poll was released, and most of its answers were to be expected. The Canucks were crowned the most overrated, three Bruins topped the list of toughest players, and Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, and Boston were named the top four teams players would most like to play for.

None of this was overly surprising, especially on that last answer. The Wings, Hawks, and Bruins all score a lot of goals. They would be fun organizations to be a part of. And half the guys answering the questions are from Ontario. I'm sure they'd love to play for the home team.

But the 5th team on the list was the Montreal Canadiens, and this one floored me. Really? Why? Have NHLers been following this organization this year? Why would anyone want to play for Pierre Gauthier after what he's done this season?

I'm not calling for a firing. That's been done elsewhere. I'm just pointing out that I can't imagine anything more undesirable than putting your future into this guy's hands. He's made it perfectly clear this season that he has zero regard for his players.

Gauthier has made three major trades in 2011-12, and while, in my opinion, at least two have been batcrap insane, each of the three has been needlessly mishandled at a player personnel level.

Obviously, Michael Cammalleri being plucked from an actual game and stuffed into a cab just prior to the third period is the most memorable instance of gong show-esque moronity, but what gets me is that Cammalleri also had to wait nearly an hour to learn where he was going. That's completely unnecessary, and Gauthier has pulled this stunt every time he's traded a player this year.

Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill suffered the same needlessly stressful moment in the dark. Here's Spacek's experience, from the Montreal Gazette:

"Pierre told me I was traded, but the strange thing was, he didn't tell me where because it hadn't been approved by the league. He told me: 'It's not fair to the other team if I tell you where you're going,' and I said: 'What the hell are you talking about? You've just traded me.' "

Spacek was told to stay near his phone, so he returned to his stall, began undressing and thanked those teammates still in the room for their friendship.

And here's Gill's experience, again from the Gazette:

It was around 1 p.m. that his phone rang, GM Pierre Gauthier telling him that he'd been traded to a team Gauthier wouldn't yet divulge, presumably awaiting NHL approval of it.

"Pierre told me to be ready for it, and it wasn't for 45 minutes or so that I knew it was Nashville," Gill said. "I said: 'Why don't you just wait and tell me all at once instead of keeping me on pins and needles?' "

Gill hustled to his room to fill his thin bag and call his wife, Anne, who was home in Westmount with their 4-month-old, Talon. Together, they speculated about the defenceman's destination.

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Hal Gill (Getty Images)

Spacek and Gill have both been traded before, and clearly, they found the way Gauthier handled it odd and bothersome enough to speak out about it.

In Gill's case, he was placed in a situation where he could either wait nervously on his own, or call his wife and share the stress with her. That's an unfair place to put a guy.

This makes no sense to me. I understand that there are some logistical kinks to work out, and some paperwork that needs to be filed, but, as Gill said, none of that explains why Gauthier couldn't just wait to tell them everything at once. And Spacek's account of Gauthier's explanation is pure nonsense. Either Gauthier knows where they're going or he doesn't at that point, and either explanation is problematic.

If the GM knows enough to tell a player he's been traded but doesn't know where, he's hopelessly inept. And if he does know, and he opts not to tell them for an hour, he's just torturing them for no good reason. Yesterday, the Player talked about the stress and tension of being traded. There's no need to exacerbate that stress, but that's exactly what Gauthier's done each time. It's bewilderingly inconsiderate.

Why would you want to play for someone like that?

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