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Monday, February 6, 2012

I would have asked for my money back.

 It has been a very tough year for the Montreal Canadiens. Two coaches have been fired, the team is likely to miss the playoffs and has been poorly performing for the whole year. Anyone who grew up in Montreal knows that sort of thing will not be tolerated by the management, the fans or the media. Habs fans expect to win. It is a tradition. No team in the modern era has even come close to winning as many Stanley Cups as the Canadiens. No team has even come close the consistent winning records the team has had for the last 45 years. They are simply the most successful team overall since the NHL expanded from 6 teams to 12 in 1967.
Three weeks ago a player named Mike Cammalleri was traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Calgary Flames. No big deal. Right?
Yes, players get traded all the time. It happens everyday in every sport. It is part of the professional game. We all get that. Sport is a business and changes need to be made to improve your organization and in effect your product on the field, court or ice.
The reason he was traded was simple. It was thought that he was talking poorly of his teammates and had become a troublemaker in the dressing room.

 As quoted by TSN, he said: “I can’t accept that we will display a losing attitude as we’re doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no wonder why we lose.”
In addition the team had been doing poorly and he was also not performing to the expectation that his large contract suggested he should. There was no question that in light of his current attitude and performance that he had to be moved..and fast. No one disputes that.
 Dave Stubbs from The National Post:

 "Cammalleri’s perhaps cathartic monologue following Wednesday’s practice set the table by stirring the Canadiens pot nicely. But this wasn’t a savoury stew. His words earned him no friends in his own dressing room and they had sharply increased the focus on himself among harshly critical media and fans."

 Part of the problem was that whatever he said, he apparently said in confidence to another teammate. Somehow, someone reported that "off the record" comment and conversation and it made the media. In many ways, the problem lies with the person who let that out and the media who reported on a conversation that was meant to be private. Was Cammalleri stupid and reckless for saying it where he did and to who he did? Yes. But we all do that from time to time. In any event, the damage was done and he no longer had the respect of his teammates and the fans of the team. The day that story leaked, he was on his way out of town. There are some who claim he did all this because he wanted out and made his own luck. That can never be proved either way.

Dave Stubbs:

" Some suggested Cammalleri was almost daring the Canadiens to deal him by the Feb. 27 trading deadline, the player having seven clubs in a limited no-trade clause to which he could not be sent without his permission."

Below is an excerpt from the above article regarding the incident and the season to that point.

"There were injuries, players not coming back who were supposed to be back. Head coach Jacques Martin and assistant coach Perry Pearn fired in separate sackings, Pearn turfed just before a game, general manager Pierre Gauthier discussing the dismissal while the Habs were on the ice warming up.
Players tussling on the ice during practice. Language debates raging. Underachievement everywhere, both on the ice and in the executive suites.
It’s all been a dog’s breakfast that no self-respecting mutt would touch.
But the Canadiens topped (bottomed?) it all Thursday night as they were losing 2-1 to the Bruins in Boston, a game that would be impossibly overshadowed by the Habs trading loose-lipped forward Michael Cammalleri, goaltending prospect Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in this June’s entry draft to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forwards Rene Bourque and Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.

Between the second and third periods, no less.
Cammalleri had a perfectly clean line on the statistics sheet through 40 minutes: no shots on goal, no missed shots, no shots blocked (offensively or defensively), no giveaways, no take-aways, no hit. He played 9:02 on a dozen shifts in the first two periods, and then he never came back.
There was a good reason for that — he was told to take a cab back to the Canadiens’ Boston hotel (presumably they let him shower first) to await further instructions."

“No one knew any details of what happened other than that Michael wasn’t on the bench. The guys were concentrating on playing the third period,” Canadiens head coach Randy Cunneyworth told reporters. “I learned about the trade just before the start of the third. With the point of avoiding any injuries or things that could occur on the ice and jeopardizing the trade, it was decided that the best thing was to take him out of the lineup.”

 What has been lost in this whole fiasco is that he was actually playing in an actual game when he was traded. Because of that, in the middle of the game, he was pulled from the ice and told to take off his uniform and wait for instructions.
I think the real issue here is not that he was traded or why he was traded. Or even if it was a good trade. Or even if it will help the team in the long run. 

In explaining why he did what he did, Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier justified his action:

“(It was difficult to pull Cammalleri) after two periods in a very tight game … It’s not the first time it’s happened. It was the right thing to do for all parties.”

I suppose it was the right thing for the two general managers. Of course, they get paid either way and never have to pay for a ticket to a game. But as a fan who would have paid anywhere from $60 to $300 for a ticket, I can't see how taking a player who is admittedly one of your primary stars and removing him from a tight game at a critical point in that game.
As a fan, what are my rights when it comes to what I should expect when I pay my hard earned money and come to a game?
Apparently, I have none. But below I will surmise that I should have some basic rights and expectations when it comes to a piece of entertainment which I paid for that was sold as something it didn't end up being.
First. I expect the referees to be honest and call the game fairly, to the best of their abilities for both teams. That is just basic fair play rules that all of us were taught in the schoolyard and house leagues growing up.
Second. I expect the players to give the best effort they can. I understand that doesn't always happen, but at least the intent should be there and if it doesn't happen consistently, I expect the team management to do something about that...after the game is over. Not during it.
Third. I expect that the club will always put the best
possible team on the ice, field or court. I pay full price, I expect full participation. That is the basic concept of fair value.
Lastly, I expect fair and full value for my money. In this case, when that clearly was taken away for ulterior motives,  I would expect to have my money back in lieu of services not rendered. 
If I was the league, I would have voided the trade and sanctioned the two general managers. Trades should not, and cannot be made while the game is in progress. It undermines the spirit of competition. Sports is a business,  but it is still a sport. If you want me to pay to see it,  you better produce what you claim to have to offer.

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