Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Penalty Shot: Allaire Joins Toronto

Anaheim calling to the hockey world...

This afternoon, CKAC reported that Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs had obtained the rights to negotiate with François Allaire. Shortly thereafter, the Maple Leafs released a statement (available on their website) confirming that Allaire had signed with Toronto, and featuring a quote by Burke, who personally thanked Anaheim for making the goaltending consultant available to them.

Update: 8 p.m. Pacific Time

I had really hoped there was more to this story, but nothing more seems to have emerged. The OC Register quotes a team official as saying that Allaire wanted to be closer to Montreal, and the Ducks gave him permission to speak with Toronto. However, none of this is new information when you consider that 10 days ago, Allaire told Marc de Foy of Rue Fontenac that he had asked the Ducks if he could speak with other teams, but his request was denied.

The elephant in the room seems to be: Why not Montreal? When the Habs fired Melanson on June 1st, the pursuit of Allaire seemed to be the next logical step. And if Allaire had expressed a desire to pursue other offers in May, maybe even offers closer to Canada, why didn't the Ducks grant his wish then? Was there really so much deadlock at the bargaining table that they needed an extra two weeks to determine they couldn't sign him?

Also, why does Burke beat Montreal to the punch here? Were the Canadiens not interested, or was Burke VERY interested? When the story first leaked, it sounded as though the Ducks had received some compensation for allowing Toronto to speak with Allaire, but no such compensation has been reported. It could be that this was just a favor between Burke and Murray, but then again, it could be that this is setting the stage for something much bigger. A Maple-Leaf-shaped pillow on which Giguere can fall, perhaps? The idea isn't so far-fetched.

Ultimately, we appear to have lost Allaire because he wanted to go back to Canada, and I'm OK with that. However, I should note that the organization did not negotiate with Allaire during the regular season, leading the coach to express some uncertainty in regards to Anaheim's interest. A similar drama played out with Beauchemin after his injury. And now, it seems we'll be getting back neither of the two French Canadians. Sometime, in the near future, I would like to see a Ducks GM that pursues the people that really count in this organization, whether they're going to get a superstar contract or not.

You doubt that Allaire counts? When Brian Hayward asked Jonas Hiller how François Allaire was preparing him for the Sharks series, the young netminder replied that he was taught what to expect from every aspect of the game: pre-game preparation, in-game, overtime and post-game-- right down to the questions to expect from the media. Normally, I assert that a goaltending coach can only do so much and can't make a fragile player mentally strong, but I guess Allaire had that covered, too. François Allaire, tu nous manqueras vraiment.

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