Gomez Trade Reax: Rangers drain the poison, Habs get fleeced

When the overwhelming majority is in complete agreement, our cynicism kicks in.

No movie deserves "A-pluses" across the board. No restaurant is immune to a bad meal, not matter how many stars it's received. No hockey trade should be given the near-universal stamp of approval that last night's stunning Scott Gomez deal between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens has; in the sense that Glen Sather is a salary-shedding genius and Bob Gainey is the type of guy who offers a cashier $10,000 for a box of Tic-Tacs and then says, "Keep the change."

The trade saw the Montreal Canadiens acquire Scott Gomez, winger Tom Pyatt and defenseman Mike Busto from the Rangers in exchange for winger Chris Higgins and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko. By this morning, a few bits of common knowledge had been established:

• Gomez was a free-agent bust with the Rangers, and Montreal just took on a huge contract for a guy who may or may not be the No. 1 center they've been looking for.

• The Canadiens were fleeced, and the Rangers can now go on a shopping spree.

• Based on his inclusion in the trade back to the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh is being chatted up as the amalgamation of Brian Leetch and Jesus Christ.

We're always going to be "wait and see" on a deal like this, not only to find out if a change of scenery ignites Gomez's game -- he's an elite playmaker, but that doesn't make him an elite center -- but also to see how the Rangers cope with his loss from a fiscal and personnel perspective.

But as you'll see in the following reactions from Rangers and Canadiens writers, the majority rules: Montreal got hosed.

Scotty Hockey represents the overwhelmingly joyful Rangers fan contingent:

While I won't take back all of the bad things I have ever said about Glen Sather (Wade Redden is still a Ranger), this definitely lightens my outlook. And for him to get back a return - any return - for Gomez is just stupefying. So this is why he is in the Hall of Fame. Wow.

No more smiling after losses. No more attacks aborted by a moronic offsides. No more skating into triple coverage to dump the puck five feet away and run for the bench. No more Scott Gomez.

Oh, happy day! And all it took was Michael Busto and Tom Pyatt? Two of Tom Renney's prospects who had no future in the Ranger organization - Jess from Prospect Park held just short of calling Pyatt a bust just the other day.

But wait! It gets better! We get the capable Chris Higgins, bluechip blueliners Ryan McDonagh and Doug Janik, some Russian Pavel Valentenko and roughly six million dollars in cap space. Folly, thy name be Bob. How Gainey could make this trade is beyond me. But I love it.

Larry Brooks of the NY Post doesn't pull punches, calling Gomez out of condition and a bust for the Rangers:

Gomez underachieved for Tom Renney and was unable to regain even a semblance of the dynamic game he'd owned as a Devil after John Tortorella took command on Feb. 23. His game had deteriorated beyond repair. He surely was one of the players Tortorella had in mind when citing a handful of Rangers as being out of condition.

His game was gone, his smile was gone, and he was going. The Rangers had been dangling Gomez for months. They needed to clear cap space. They needed to move forward without Gomez.

"If you perform up to expectations, play hard every day, game in and game out and be productive, there's a chance you'll never be traded," Sather said yesterday afternoon after announcing that Gomez had been traded.

Gomez' heart was in the right place two summers ago. But his eyes exceeded his commitment. New York was too big for him.

Hockey Rodent, one of the best Rangers bloggers on the Web, explains why Gomez failed:

Gomez was a second- or third-line center making marquée dough. In a salary-capped league, this made his presence detrimental to the mission.

The final attribute I had issues with was his competitiveness - lack thereof. I'd often remark how he appeared to be going through the motions. His personality was too easy-going. If ever I'd characterize someone as a mercenary, it was Gomez, who never behaved as a warrior in MSG. The opposite was true. He came across a spoiled professional who'd punch in and punch out and do as little as necessary to shape the outcome of a game while on duty.

And then there are the Habs fans and writers. Robert from Eyes On The Prize is "angered, utter disbelief, total incomprehension, absolutely mystified" about the Gomez deal, and explains his angst in relation to the treatment of Saku Koivu:

So it begs, why were the Canadiens so rabid in landing Gomez? Yes, Gomez is a center capable of distributing la rondelle between his wingers - it hardly makes him unique, especially at his cost.

Over the past five seasons, Gomez has racked up 194 assists with the New Jersey Devils and the Rangers. In that same time span, Saku Koivu has assisted on 172 goals with the Canadiens. Over four seasons Gomez has scored a whopping 7 goals more than Saku Koivu. That's almost 2 goals per season more than Saku.

Don't purchase a calculator!

The quick math, is an additional 7 goals and 22 assists at a cost of 2M more per season for a player who is four years younger and on the books for five more seasons. In a PPG ratio, Gomez is slighty superior, with 272 points in 312 games, compared to Koivu's 243 in 295 games.

Factoring in that Koivu is the second longest tenured Habs captain, despite being four years older, and I truly fail to see where Gomez is an upgrade.

Canadiens blogger Dennis Kane wants to take a wait-and-see attitude, despite some obvious pessimism:

It also seems sad that the Habs gave up on McDonagh, who was expected to amount to something in Montreal. Maybe he wasn't developing the way they thought, or maybe Gainey just really likes Gomez and decided to pay a hefty price.

If this is all the movement Gainey makes, there's going to be a lot of disappointed Habs fans who understand as much as the brass that the Canadiens aren't about to set the world on fire with the existing team as is.

Maybe this will all work out. Gomez will shine as a Canadien, and Gainey will end up looking like Sam Pollock. It's going to be a wait-and-see.

But if it's pessimism you want, The H Stands For Habs brings it with a post titled "Ugh."

Maybe somewhere, there's good in this trade. Maybe Gomez's presence will help attract a good UFA or two to Montreal. Despite his numbers, when you hear his name you think of a good player, and it's always fun to play with good players. Maybe Gainey means to send Higgins an offer sheet in New York and steal him back. But honestly, I'm having a really hard time finding the good here.

I think this is a really bad trade and I think the fans in Montreal will make Scott Gomez' life miserable when he puts up 60 points while making eight million bucks this year. If he's still a Hab three years from now, I'll be surprised. I won't be surprised, however, to see Chris Higgins' next hat trick scored against the visitors from Montreal. That's always the way it seems to go, isn't it?

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