OTTAWA - Pierre Gauthierís latest move could be his last.
The Canadiens GM is either desperate or on thin ice after acquiring defenceman Tomas Kaberle and his $4.25-million cap hit for two more seasons from the Hurricanes on Friday in exchange for blueliner Jaroslav Spacek, a potential unrestricted free agent next July.
The decision to make the move has left many believing that Gauthier is through waiting for injured defenceman Andrei Markov, who had surgery again on his injured knee last week.
While heís supposed to return by February, Markovís chances of playing at all this season have never been more in doubt.
You have to wonder what possessed Gauthier to give the 32-year-old Markov (who played seven games last season) a three-year, $15.75-million contract in the off-season.
Couldnít Gauthier have offered Markov a deal with incentives for games played in case this happened?
The talk in NHL circles is this decision to acquire Kaberle had better work for Gauthier.
The Habs are hovering around 11th place in the Eastern Conference and if they miss the playoffs after an early exit last spring, you have to think that could be it for Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin.
THIS íNí THAT
There was an update on the sale of the Blues during the NHLís board of governors meetings last week in Pebble Beach, Calif. Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer is trying to get the financing in place to complete the purchase of the team and his window of opportunity closes on Dec. 31. Many wonder if it is going to go through ... Since a coaching change hasnít brought the desired results, Capitals GM George McPhee has been working the phones trying to shake up his struggling club. While the Caps would love to move Alexander Semin, there is no market for a struggling, underachieving winger making too much money these days.
OFF THE GLASS
Donít think Devils G Martin Brodeur, who could be in his final season, will be going anywhere at the trade deadline as a rental. Itís not like the 38-year-old needs to be dealt so he can win a Stanley Cup before he retires. He already has three rings. He has nothing to prove ... The Bruins will have a decision to make on C Chris Kelly sometime this season. An alternate captain, heís a UFA July 1 and thereís been speculation in Boston heíll be signed to a contract extension. There havenít been any talks with the Bruins yet. The Senators will be keeping a close eye on the situation. Kelly makes his off-season home in Ottawa and it would only make sense for the Senators to try to bring him back if heís available.
THE FINAL BUZZER
You have to feel for fans of the Blue Jackets (if there are any left). With Columbus sitting in the basement in the Western Conference, coach Scott Arniel is somehow still employed and Craig Patrick was just brought aboard to advise GM Scott Howson. At the very least, many feel Arniel should have been fired and replaced with old Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. The Bluesí decision to hire Hitchcock has worked wonders in St. Louis. With W David Perron back, the Blues have the chance to make the playoffs ... Amid all the back-slapping and glad-handing thatís gone on with the NHLís realignment plan, has anybody bothered to ask the NHLPA what it thinks? The players have to approve a major change to the CBA. Just sayin.í
RUMOURS DU JOUR
The self-imposed holiday roster freeze for Brian Burke kicked in Friday, but the Maple Leafs GM might be willing to make moves once itís lifted. The Leafs could be looking for help in the middle, especially with Tim Connolly struggling with injuries. Columbus C Derick Brassard could be an option. League sources say Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson was spotted at the Marlies game last Saturday in Toronto. Apparently, he was in the corner and didnít want to be noticed. Brassard has a cap hit of $3.2 million for the next two seasons, so Howson canít afford to let coach Scott Arniel bury Brassard on the fourth line or in the press box much longer. The situation is going to come to a head and Brassard could certainly make sense for the Leafs ... Nobody is sure whatís wrong with the Kings, but they better find their way out of this mess soon. Iím told GM Dean Lombardi has been one of the most aggressive working the phones and is determined to make changes because he certainly canít afford to miss the playoffs. Heíd move W Dustin Penner in a second. When Kings president Tim Leiwicke and Lombardi ate their words and gave D Drew Doughty a kingís ransom, they talked about winning the Stanley Cup. If they miss the playoffs, you have to wonder whatís going to happen in Tinseltown.
Have a nice Sunday.