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Frozen Fantasy: The Problem With Emotion

Janet Eagleson

Janet Eagleson is a four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Remember how things turned out the last time the Habs traded a guy after he had an angry outburst?


Michael Cammalleri’s attack on his club and his teammates – “We play like losers” – after Tuesday’s loss to the Blues was chalked up as ‘passion.’ It was because he cared so much. Oh yeah – it was apparently taken ‘out of context.’

Right. And monkeys fly. Backwards. Did you know they whistle when they do that?

I tuned into the Habs-Bruins game Thursday night because I was expecting a few fireworks. Admittedly, I was curious to see how Cammy interacted with his teammates. And besides, those two teams always deliver. I just didn’t expect the light show would happen off the ice.

The Habs are a mess.

Habs’ GM Pierre Gauthier was singing that old, ‘it doesn’t bother me’ song when asked about Cammy’s words. But mid-game, cameras caught a glimpse of Gauthier pulling a Ron Caron-like explosion in his box.

It wasn’t long before Cammalleri was then pulled from the game.

It was 1995 the last time a Habs player got really angry. Like Cammalleri, Patrick Roy let his ego get the best of him in full view of the world.

That deal didn’t work out so well for Montreal, did it?

Twenty months ago, Montreal was on the verge of the Eastern Conference title. Less than nine months ago, they pushed the eventual Stanley Cup winner to seven games – and overtime – in the first round. But on Thursday night, the Habs and lowly Hurricanes were in a tie for 12th in the Eastern Conference.

Anyone know how to spell ugly in French?

On October 26, general manager Pierre Gauthier fired – of all people – an assistant coach. Six weeks later, he axed his head coach and knowingly brought in an interim coach who can’t speak French. He also started pointing fingers at his players. And Thursday, he pulled his top left winger – and one of the team’s only scoring threats – out of a road game against his team’s archrival when they still had a chance to win.

It’s another blight on a grand old franchise. Somewhere, Rejean Houle is smiling.

Now let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Dave Bolland, C, Chicago (7 percent owned) – There’s a point every season when Bolland catches my eye and that time is now. He’s smart, sneaky and skilled with a strong work ethic in every zone. And he can snipe. He scored twice and added an assist Thursday night to stretch his point streak to three games, a span over which he has recorded six points (4G, 2A, three PPPs, one SHG). Patrick Sharp is out but the team hasn’t slowed down at all. And that’s due in large part to Bolland. Does your roster need a boost?

Ryan Ellis, D, Nashville (10 percent owned) – Cool as a cucumber. Or a cat. Or whatever simile you can imagine – Ellis has ice water in his veins, particularly on the power play. He’s a natural quarterback who just doesn’t seem to feel the pressure of big forwards pressuring him at the point – he distributes with an eerie calm and then somehow finds a way to get his monstrous slapper through a forest of redwoods. He may be a member of a short man’s support group but he’s quick on his feet, strong for his size and blessed with tremendous athleticism. And fantasy does not discriminate based on size. Ellis has four points, including three on the PP, in his last four games. His ownership has already taken a big jump – from three to 10 percent in just over a day. And I expect it to jump even more.

Justin Faulk, D, Carolina (1 percent owned) – Head coach Kirk Mueller sees Faulk for what he is – an exceptional, although inexperienced, puck-moving defender with poise, skill and tremendous upside, particularly on the power play. And that’s where Mueller is starting to use this 19-year-old. He had four power-play points in six games leading into Thursday and he picked up an even-strength helper that night against the Bolts. Faulk will make mistakes going forward but the production will outweigh the errors. Take a shot on this All-Star.

Jimmy Hayes, RW, Chicago (0 percent owned) – Hayes is a monster … and a fast one at that. There aren’t a lot of guys who are 6-6, 220 that can skate like the wind. He has been impressive since his call-up with three goals, one assist, two PPPs and 17 hits in his last six games. He still projects as a dominating third-liner. But in Chicago, that means a possible 40+ points. And spot duty on deep fantasy rosters, as long as he stays with the big club. Watch him in Detroit on Saturday. He may just surprise you.

Saku Koivu, C, Anaheim (13 percent owned) – Scott Pianowski snagged the elder Koivu in our Friends and Family League this week and is clearly praying that he can wring a bit more out of this aging Finn. Based on the last week, Piano Man may be onto something. Koivu won’t maintain his recent pace - four goals, three assists, and a plus-five rating in three games prior to Thursday’s - but Koivu’s imagination, courage and agility have not been tarnished by age. This could be one of his last great stands. And that’s worth a pickup if you need help down the middle.

Peter Mueller, LW/C, Colorado (4 percent owned) – Risk/reward – Mueller is the epitome of that old adage. I still err on the side of risk but his offensive talent is undeniable. There’s really no harm in nabbing him if you’re already in the business of rolling guys on and off your roster – you can always drop him in a week. But if he’s remotely healthy – the rust he showed Thursday should soon wear off – you’ll have added a high-end, top-six forward for virtually nothing at all.

Benoit Pouliot, LW, Boston (5 percent owned) Brad Marchand’s brain fart against Vancouver has led to a top-line opportunity for this talented but painfully inconsistent winger. He’s the complete package – speed, agility, skill and vision – with a big shot. But he delivers like your typical drive-thru restaurant – the order is rarely, if ever, complete and you’re pretty much guaranteed to be disappointed. He started to put things together before Christmas and has nine points and a plus-nine rating in his last ten games. He was even riding a three-game, five-point streak (one goal, four assists) that was snapped Thursday. Most of the production I’ve described came before he got his gig with Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron; I can’t wait to see what will come next.

Victor Stalberg, LW, Chicago (10 percent owned) – I love him; I hate his guts. I love him; I can’t stand his face. I picked up Stalberg on my own recommendation three weeks ago and then dropped him in the middle of a six-game slump where he had no points and a minus-nine rating. Of course, he cleared waivers just in time for a Patrick Sharp injury and the first hat trick of his career. And now he’s on another team in the Friends and Family League. I don’t need goals anyway. That’s what I tell myself. That and I hate his guts. You, on the other hand, should show him some love. Maybe your affair with him will go better.

Lee Stempniak, RW/LW, Calgary (3 percent owned) – Stempniak has been a slug this season. But since the flip of the calendar, he has points in four of six games, including a three-game, four-point streak, and a brand new, sniping linemate by the name of Michael Cammalleri. All of a sudden, Calgary’s second line – and its members – has a whole lot more fantasy value.

And In Case He’s Out There …

Mark Giordano, D, Calgary (39 percent owned) – The Flames’ best defender returned to the ice Thursday night and set up the game winner in overtime. Sure, his output was well below expected before his injury. But he’s a stud. And he may have been dropped in your league given his low ownership. Pick him up – if he can’t help your stats he can help you in a trade.

Back to angry Habs.

Cammalleri? He’s not angry anymore. Then again, he’s not a Hab anymore. He gets to return to the scene of his best season ever. And to Jarome Iginla, his favorite teammate ever.

Gauthier? He sure looked calm during the post-game scrum where the announcement was made. Maybe he was sipping the chamomile tea.

But I’ll bet there’s going to be another outburst from him very, very soon. It’ll be in private, though, once he gets home with his cardboard box filled with the items from his desk. And when that other angry Hab – yes, Patrick Roy – is announced as the new king of the bleu, blanc et rouge.

Maybe it really does pay to be angry in Montreal.

Until next week.