Why were Habs silent on D-day?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:23 PM ET

Many around the NHL are wondering why Montreal GM Bob Gainey, with his team in a free fall, was silent on deadline day. There is pressure on the Habs to have a long playoff run in their centennial season, but a league executive noted the club wasn't very active in trade discussions. "I didn't hear a lot about them being involved in many deals," said the executive. "I don't get it. They needed to do something." Gainey is criticized for his patience, but he didn't have a lot of cash to spend, either. The Habs are right up against the $56.7-million US salary cap. They showed interest in Phoenix C Olli Jokinen before he went to Calgary and could have put injured C Robert Lang on long-term injury to make it happen, but didn't want to spend the cash. It will be a disaster if the Habs miss the playoffs.

Wild needed Backstrom

As noted in this space last week, Wild GM Doug Risebrough had no choice: He had to re-sign G Niklas Backstrom, who got a four-year, $24-million deal on deadline day. The word is Risebrough believes the media cost him $1 million a year because Backstrom, 31, wouldn't have priced himself so high if it weren't for all the good press he's been getting. Risebrough might want to blame GMs like Washington's George McPhee, who inexplicably gave Jose Theodore $4.5 million, and Chicago's Dale Tallon, who doled out $5.4 million for Cristobal Huet. The Wings wanted Backstrom, but weren't willing to part with C Johan Franzen and D Jonathan Ericsson.

Neil was wanted

It's believed three teams called the Senators about upcoming UFA RW Chris Neil on Wednesday. San Jose backed off when it saw the opportunity to get LW Travis Moen and D Kent Huskins from the Ducks. It's believed Philadelphia offered RW Scottie Upshall, who was dealt to Phoenix, but the Senators weren't interested in taking on his $1.25-million salary. The Rangers were trying to get rid of salary and pick up Neil.


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