As everyone knows, New Year's Eve is a day to spend with someone you love, and clearly, Pierre Gauthier ascribes to this notion. Judging from Sunday's announcement, the Montreal Canadiens GM spent the day with defenseman Josh Gorges, hammering out the final details on a brand new, long-term contract.
If you're sitting there saying, "That's silly, Pierre Gauthier doesn't love Josh Gorges," I direct you to the terms of the agreement, via Capgeek: $23.4 million over 6 years, for a $3.9 million cap hit.
That's quite a commitment. I'd venture to say these two parties feel strongly about one another.
Gorges extension doesn't change where he sits on the Canadiens' list of highest-paid defensemen. He was third behind Andrei Markov and Tomas Kaberle before the deal, and there he remains. But his salary now puts him on par with guys like Mark Giordano, Andrej Meszaros, and Anton Volchenkov, all of whom are of similar age, but probably higher skill levels.
Does Gorges deserved to be paid as much as these guys?
According to his agent, Kevin Epp, he wouldn't be if Gauthier had offered Gorges the long-term deal they wanted last summer:
Kevin Epp, Josh Gorges agent: "Habs would not have had to pay that much if something had been done in the summer".
— Marc Antoine Godin (@MAGodin) January 1, 2012
Epp has a point. Gorges has made no secret of his desire to stay in Montreal. In January of 2011, he said that he would sign a long-term deal in a second.
But this was a week after he'd suffered a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. Needless to say, this changed things somewhat. Understandably, Pierre Gauthier showed reservation in committing to Gorges long-term, likely wanting to see how the blueliner bounced back from the operation.
One wonders if Gorges camp saw Gauthier's noncommittal turn as a slap in the face for a defenseman that had put in three years with the organization, led them to the Eastern Conference final in 2010, and expressed genuine enthusiasm at being a part of the Habs' core going forward.
As negotiations dragged on, Gorges filed for arbitration, and the two camps only avoided this by agreeing to a one-year, $2.5 million deal four days before court.
Now, with Gorges showing no ill effects from the surgery, possibly harbouring a little resentment from the lack of faith Gauthier had in him six months ago, and six months away from unrestricted free agency, the price to lock him up long-term may have been a good million per year higher than it would have been at this time last year.
But now it's done, which is important for the Canadiens, as Gauthier has three more free agent defensemen to lock up this summer: Raphael Diaz, Alexei Emelin, and P.K. Subban are all RFAs.
Note: This post originally had Bob Gainey as the Canadiens GM, which is an inexcusable error. I can only apologize, and I have sent myself to bed without dinner.