Friday, January 31, 2020

Cale Fleury Autographed Card

There's a battle for power that's been going on for the past four years within the Montréal Canadiens, but I'm not sure GM Marc Bergevin actually realizes it; he probably just thinks it's best for head coach Claude Julien to get the type of veteran-laden lineup with grit than the young, skilled team he's assembled to rebuild on the fly, and the end result is a reflection of how out of touch Julien is with today's game: the Habs are about to miss the playoffs for the third straight season and fourth time in five years.

Heck, Julien even managed to make the Boston Bruins - the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions and 2013 and 2019 finalists - miss the postseason in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and was about to miss them again when he was let go 55 games into the 2016-17 season.

Bergevin's main problem is this: Montréal is a special market, one that requires its head coach and general manager to speak French, the language spoken by 0% of its province and market and comprising anywhere between 15-20% of NHL players, and with the Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins all bursting at the seams with francophone coaches and trainers and the Ottawa Senators taking a small bite out of that pie as well, the remaining piece of the pie's getting pretty small. And two of the candidates for the head coaching position - Patrick Roy and Jacques Martin - also have GM experience that trumps his own, especially in terms of success when speaking of Roy. And perhaps none would want to be stuck with the veterans currently signed to the team long-term and those who will require hefty raises that will choke the remaining space on the salary cap in a couple of years.

And so the Habs' Next Generation of stars - save for Nick Suzuki, who seems to have taken Max Domi's spot as the #2 centre on the team - looks destined to finish the season in the AHL. On one hand, it's best not to have the young guns get comfortable wit hthe constant losing and the Laval Rocket may very well make the playoffs and contend for the Calder Cup, which would continue creating chemistry among the likes of Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Ryan Poehling, Cayden Primeau, Noah Juulsen, Otto Leskinen, and Michael Pezzetta.

You can now add Cale Fleury's name to that list, as the Habs have sent the young hard-hitting defenseman down to play in the suburbs after being a healthy scratch for four straight games; some think the team did so to showcase the likes of Marco Scandella and Brett Kulak for a possible trade deadline sale and subsequent tank job, but those are the guys Julien would prefer to keep anyhow; the same can be said for veteran grinders like Nate Thompson, Nick Cousins, Dale Weise, Paul Byron and defensemen Shea Weber and Jeff Petry. Those are "his" guys.

So, for the time being, this is what Fleury will look like:
That's the Rocket's white uniform, on card #59 from Upper Deck's 2018-19 AHL collection, which he signed in blue sharpie during a home stretch in November or December.

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