Though this news has gone viral, I can’t say it’s a rumor; the only thing making it one is that nothing “official” has been released from the team. But news, for the past few days, has come out of the Montreal Canadiens camp that defenseman Josh Gorges is about to leave the team. This isn’t of his own volition. There has been buzz for a few days, and Gorges himself found out only Saturday. He had no idea this was going to happen.
In fact, just today, he was recorded as saying his shock and disappointment are severe. Speaking to the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs, he revealed that over the weekend, his agent called with general manager Marc Bergevin‘s request for permission to trade him (he currently has four seasons remaining with the team, and a no-trade clause in his contract, citing 15 teams he would accept should he waive it).
According to the stories that have floated the river of rumors since this surfaced, the Toronto Maple Leafs made an offer to Montreal for the 29-year-old defenseman. For Habs fans, this is sacrilege.
We take heart — Toronto is not one of the 15 cities listed by Gorges. In fact, no Canadian team was. I’ve since heard that has changed, though details are not known.
Yes, the rumors are flying fast. The story changes constantly.
For so many fans of the team, Josh Gorges represents leadership as well as strength. He’s always been known as the go-to guy for blocked shots, and though he racked up only 14 points in the 2013-14 season, his nickname among fans is “Warrior”. Gorges was pegged as the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens, by many fans as well as analysts. His calm, level-headed manner on the bench, on the ice, in the room, spoke volumes. No question this move is stunning not only to Gorges, but to fans as well.
It’s no secret that P.K. Subban will be signed, and that contract will be sizeable. Therefore, it’s not hard to see that the Gorges move is a purely business decision. And if a choice needed to be made, Subban over Gorges is the obvious answer.
But in all the buzzing rumors surrounding the free agency market, the trades, and the contract talks, Gorges’ name was not a common one to hear. Partially because of his long-term contract remainder, but mostly because of his solid standing with the team and with fans.
It’s never easy to be a fan of hockey when the players themselves become the focus. Yes, hockey is a business. Yes, players are commodities. But to fans, players have personalities we get attached to, get used to, and develop loyalties to, which makes the business of hockey that much harder to take when team rosters change from season to season.
Do we question the management? A visit to Twitter at any time of the year (no off-season in Montreal, folks!) will leave you wondering just how many general managers the Habs employ, what with all the “authoritative” postings on social media.
Of course we question the management! And during games, those who questioned will sporadically take back their doubts if a traded-for player turns in a strong performance (only, most likely, to put them back in place as soon as said player makes a mistake on the ice).
In the end, the business side of things remains solely in the hands of the suits upstairs. Fans have no choice but to immediately embrace the decision, slowly move over to acceptance, or forever stand against any moves made.
Most loyalties will fade, some never do (Saku Koivu remains a beloved Captain in the hearts of Montreal fans who still remember his reign). New loyalties are formed, acceptance is more widespread than not.
Should Gorges end up leaving (and at this point, it seems to be inevitable), we can only wish him well, thank him for his own loyalty to the Habs, and look to the next trade, move, acquisition or signing that will lift the spirits of fans disappointed over the void he will leave.
As this news was developing today, the Habs traded Daniel Briere to the Colorado Avalanche for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau. And the base ran to welcome him on social media.
It’s the hockey equivalent of “squirrel!”