Reports are coming in from the Twitterverse.
Ex-Hab Guillaume Latendresse, who was not given a qualifiying offer by the Minnesota Wild, will not sign with the Wild and will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.
Knowing the Montreal media, you should expect a conflagration between those in favour of retaining his services in Montreal once more and those that want nothing to do with him.
Arguments on the Pro side:
– He’s big: 6’2 and over 230 lbs. A lot of people want Montreal to get more size and that’s something he has.
– Scorer: 33 goals in 81 games. Even though he shot at likely an unsustainable pace during that time, his 2.32 shots per game coupled with usually being a 12+% shooter means he’ll should typically be a 20 goal man (2.3 shots/game x .12 goals/shot x 82 games = 22.6 goals).
– Young: Currently 25 years of age, well within his prime years.
– Home town boy. From St. Catherine Quebec he’s a native son for a team that’s criticised often for not having enough of them.
Arguments of the Con side:
– Injured: Only 25 games in the past two years. About as many as Andrei Markov (20).
– Poor commitment to fitness: He was often criticized for being out of shape in Montreal, this didn’t go away in Minnesota where he was publicaly called out by his coach for his condiditoning coming to camp. Its been speculated that this has been a contributing factor to why he has had such difficulty being healthy the past two years.
– Entitlement: The biggest controversy around Latendresse when he was in Montreal last had a lot to do with his boosters arguments above. As a local big scoring forward, Latendresse was treated as a celebrity by the local French media far beyond his accomplishments on the ice. As a player with a rocky relationship with the organization, this led to some to think that the local media would support him in any conflict with management. There was also a perception that he used his status to avoid being a “team player” and following the instructions of the coaching staff. This has also been tied into his reported weight and conditioning issues.
Personally I’d see Latendresse coming back as a reclamation project with a relatively low salary to be a good step for the organization. The team could use more talent on wing and Latendresse is obviously talented and has had success at the NHL level. But I’d hate to see the explosions of controversy that may follow Guillaume in Montreal. In any event I fully expect the next few days to be filled with debate on whether the organization should bring him back into the fold and their to be much recrimination if he signs elsewhere.
A look from the Minnesota side: