SIMMONS: The Weber-Subban deal was not a disaster, so many have predicted for Habs

It's been 957 days since the Canadanesi of Montreal exchanged the P.K. Underhand in Nashville in a deal that infuriates their fan base. All they had in business was old, slow and expensive, Shea Weber.

This is what many have said after the explosive agreement made on June 29, 2016. The general manager Marc Bergevin has been eviscerated for making the move. Many thought it was a one-sided affair for Nashville.

I was not among those who thought that way – not then, certainly not now. Weber has returned to Montreal's defense since the end of November after 11 months of absence. Everything he has done since he returned is a significant factor in the Canadiens passing from the contender to the race.

In his first 31 games, back on Saturday night at the Bell Center, the Habs had a record of 21-10. Weber scored nine goals on that occasion. And, most important of all, Carey Price has returned to its star-keeper shape. One does not happen without the other in Montreal.

The price is 16-8 with Weber playing in the defense couple number one, with an average of goals in less than two and a saving percentage close to 0.950. Weber has the kind of presence of Chris Pronger-Zdeno Chara who rarely finds himself in a defender of the NHL.

It's been three years since the deal and they're still screaming at us when the shrieks should be all but silent.

THIS AND THAT

The concern over the length of Auston Matthews' contract is an overreaction. Matthews will be a maple leaf for at least eight seasons. Probably more By perspective, some of Toronto's most beloved and memorable athletes have not played eight seasons in the city. The names include Roberto Alomar, Doug Gilmour, Curtis Joseph, John Olerud, Lanny McDonald and Josh Donaldson … The idea of ​​Leafs that Matthews' goals are worth more than Mitch Marner's assists is the poppycock. When Marner puts the record on a teammate's stick for a tap-in goal, as he did twice on Wednesday against Ottawa, underestimating that means what Wayne Gretzky did for Jari Kurri or Adam Oates for Brett Hull or Cam Neely . Matthews deserves more money than Marner, but it's not a goal thing against assists. And it's a complete game thing in the middle against the wing … Marner does not want to negotiate during the season, but his agent, Darrin Ferris, is almost doing the talk show tour. I saw Jimmy Kimmel the other night and I fully expected to see Ferris … I said for a long time that if I ever had to hire an agent, I would hire the late Don Baizley. Baizley did a great job for Peter Forsberg's Hall of Fame and Joe Sakic and Paul Kariya and the only time you heard his name or his voice was after the deal was signed. And even then it was underestimated … I see Marner who wants money with Matthews or close, but how do you pay more than $ 9.5 million dollars to Nikita Kucherov in the year? And in retrospect, the guy did the Lewis Gross agent by subtracting Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary for $ 6.75 million for another three years.

LISTEN AND HERE

The biggest difference between Jonas Valanciunas and Marc Gasol is that Gasol is a passport of the whole world for a great man. Nick Nurse has 25 games to figure out how he will fit into the Raptors' offense, but it should be enough time for teammates to be able to read and respond to Gasol. A cutter like Pascal Siakam should benefit exponentially, as should double and triple team Kawhi Leonard … The Raptors have made a jump to Kyle Lowry, which is a good thing if it makes him angry. Lowry plays his best basketball when he's crazy about something or angry with someone … Do you remember when LeBron James leaving for East would have to lead the way to the NBA finals? Well, the Sixers have loaded and Milwaukee is stacked and the Boston Celtics are deep and athletic and this will be a playoff dog fight in the Eastern Conference. Much more intense than expected … What I like most about Masai Ujiri and Bobby Webster: they are not tied to any style. They watched Lowry moving. They approached the Nikola Mirotic shooter, who went to the Bucks. All the time at the end of the Gasol. Nice job at the Raptors front office here … In baseball, the roles are basically frozen for the playoffs after the second trade deadline. In hockey, the roles are basically frozen after the expiration of the NHL trade. In the NBA, the trade deadline passes and the teams are still examining the buyout pick-ups. Strange … You're lucky once in a while in this business. You can cover someone like Valanciunas. Someone true Someone unpretentious. Someone with great pride, little ego and sense of humor. It was a pleasure

SCENE AND JUDGMENT

Entering Saturday's game, the limited free agent Patrik Laine scored once in the last 15 Winnipeg games, four times in the last 30 games. Can you say a bridge contract? … Buffalo needs help in defense. A lot of help. Is it enough to be interested in Nikita Zaitsev with the Leafs paying part of the load? … In almost all other circumstances, Randy Carlyle would be fired as Anaheim duck coach. Except the superior management is desperate for a first draft this season. The team needs young talents. Losing actually fits their agenda right now … When Alex Mogilny played, he was on a short list of the hottest players in the NHL. Now in the conversation, his compatriot, Evgeny Kuznetsov … I'm not sure what the Leafs are doing with Igor Ozhiganov. He's not playing for the Leafs, he's not playing for the Marlies. Who develops without ever playing? … Take a bow, Lindsey Vonn. And congratulations on a spectacular career … Come to think of it, Cincinnati Bengals will be able to hire the quarterback coach Rams as their next coach? … What does Russ Parker have to do to enter Canada's Canadian Hall of Fame? Could he do more than be Mr. Baseball in Calgary? … There were some bad Super Bowl games before, only none of them with Tom Brady playing … Delon Wright was an IKEA pack for the Raptors. He had all the parts. Only nobody could understand how to put them all together.

AND ANOTHER THING

Really, has anyone asked the American Football Alliance? Someone asked him to start a week after the Super Bowl? Is anyone different from coaches like Mike Singletary who tries to replace himself for needing a new championship? In the Memphis staff of Singletary, however, the Canadian DB O.J is thoughtful. Atogwe … If you start a baseball team from scratch with Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas and Marwin Gonzalez in the infield, Bryce Harper and Adam Jones in the outfield, and Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez and Craig Kimbrel on the staff of the pitch, how fast could you compete? All these players, and much more, still have to sign everywhere with pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training in a few days … How well will the Raptors be prepared for the post-season with 12 finals against the weaker and Competition out of competition? In that mix, two games against the Knicks, two games against the Bulls, a lot of time for Kawhi to rest his tired bones … Get well soon and go home, Bob Elliott … The Leafs does not have a choice of first round to send to Philadelphia for Wayne Simmonds, but may be able to get him for a second or third choice or a draft pick and Connor Brown if GM Chuck Fletcher decides to swap one of his best players in the heat of the Flyers streak … The social media world has gone awry when word got around that Kawhi bought a $ 13 million home in southern California. He bought a house – in San Diego, his hometown, a three-hour drive from the Staples Center … Happy birthday to Vladimir Guerrero (44), Mark Spitz (69), Greg Norman (64), Mookie Wilson (63), Saquon Barkley (22), Eddie Zosky (51) and Neil Sheehy (60) … And hey, what happened to Walt McKechnie?

REPORT CARD FOR DUBAS

So, three big contracts concluded, what should we do with the general manager of the first year, Kyle Dubas?

The signature of John Tavares was beautifully executed by Dubas, paying the market value in terms of both term and salary. Tavares was impressed by the Dubas store and coach Mike Babcock, but Dubas had one thing none of the other suitors had in his favor: nobody else could talk to Tavares about his return home. The only problem with Tavares is that it has not dealt with the real needs of the Leafs and has accumulated a lot of money in the meantime.

William Nylander's signature was a sloppy affair. Too long-term, too much money and too disruptive for both the team and the player. Perhaps over time this will prove to be a decent signature. Right now, it seems like an expensive solution for a team that will manage the finances in the coming years. One thing, though – Nylander is a valid trading piece in the future.

The signing of Auston Matthews lasted only five years, which is favorable to players in the current NHL environment. The dollars are probably right and the longer-term dollars will not work, but nobody calls it a big win for anyone but Matthews. This is not a team contract with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, but it's a costly and necessary piece of business for the Leafs.

So the votes here: an "A" for the signature of Tavares; A & # 39; B & # 39; for Mattthews. A & # 39; C & # 39; for Nylander. A mixed bag. It's not a great start for Dubas, and not bad, but somewhere in the middle.

THE INJURIES OF MANOVERS IN PLAYOFF ARE SPECIAL

It's been 40 years since Maple Leafs played the Montreal Canadiens in a series of playoffs and, for some reason, people big enough to remember the series look back with a sort of affection.

In fact, there were two series – one in 1978, the other in 1979. Montreal won the Stanley Cup in both seasons, his third and fourth season of that race at Guy Lafleur-Scotty Bowman. The Leafs has played eight play-off games against Montreal in these two seasons. They did not win one of them.

But it was Toronto-Montreal. The two exclusive franchises of the NHL. So it mattered even if it was not really competitive.

At the end of the regular season of & # 39; 78, the Habs had 37 points more than the Leafs. And the Leafs have had a great season that year, finishing with 92 points. They met in the semi-finals of the league.

The next season, Montreal closed with 34 points ahead of the Leafs, sweeping them again in the phase following the first.

So here we are in February and there is little to choose between the Leafs and the Canadiens. There is a possibility that Montreal and Toronto can meet in the playoffs. Boston could still interrupt it, but there is still some excitement that would accompany a Toronto-Montreal series.

The last time that Toronto played in Montreal in a series of play-offs with the two teams next to each other in the standings? This happened in 1967, with the Habs two points more and the last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THESE GOOD FEELINGS?

On 9 December 2013, Roy Halladay signed one of those semi-insignificant one-day contracts with the Blue Jays, in order to retire with the team that drafted and developed it.

On that day, the signature meant something for a proud Halladay. It meant something for him to say thanks to the Blue Jays and their fans.

So what happened between then and now for the Halladay family and the Blue Jays after the late pitcher was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame? The determination was taken by the family, there would be no team designation on the Halladay Hall of Fame bust baseball hat, which annoyed some Blue Jays fans.

No one is saying with certainty what has happened here, except that there is evidence that the Philadelphia Phillies treated the Halladay family with incredible reverence after the pitcher died in a plane crash. When the Hall of Fame was announced, for example, the Phillies sent the owner Learjet to Florida to fly the Halladay family to New York and have them brought to the St. Regis Hotel.

The Phillies also responded with a more respectful approach immediately after Halladay's death. Whatever Halladay felt in 2013, six years later, his family did not necessarily feel the same way.