Who would have thunk we would be halfway through the current season and wondering how much we miss David Desharnais? You remember him. Tiny — he was about 5-foot-7 — a guy who wasn’t drafted out of junior. Was invited to a Canadiens development camp on the recommendation of Guy Carbonneau and several years later, his hard work and determination landed him on one of Montreal’s top lines. Desharnais was always one of my favourites because I would rather have a hard worker with some talent than a very talented player who is lazy. Unlike some smaller players, Desharnais didn’t have blazing speed. But he had grit and great vision. He hooked up with Max Pacioretty when they broke in with the Hamilton Bulldogs and he helped Pacioretty become a 30-goal scorer in the NHL. Pacioretty is unlikely to reach 30 this season — he has eight goals and is on pace to score 18 — and one of the reasons is the Canadiens can’t find a centre to work with him. Things didn’t work with Jonathan Drouin at the start of the season, then they didn’t with Phillip Danault, and now we’re back to Pacioretty-Drouin 2.0. After Pacioretty was limited to one shot on goal in Saturday’s loss in Edmonton, he bristled when someone asked him about his lack of production. Pacioretty pointed out he had a goal erased in the previous game in Calgary because Paul Byron was a few millimetres offside. If that goal had gone in, Pacioretty said, “you wouldn’t be asking that question.” Maybe. But that goal would mean he had two goals in his last 18 games instead on one and he’d be looking forward to a 20-goal season. Which brings us back to Desharnais, who was traded to Edmonton last February for spare-part defenceman Brandon Davidson. He signed with the New York Rangers for a $1 million and he’s earning his keep. He has 18 points — the same as Drouin — and has moved up to the No. 2 line with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. He is the Rangers’ best faceoff man with a 56.4 per cent success rate. Drouin is at 41.3 per cent.
Canadiens sure could use David Desharnais right now
Montreal Gazette | Dec 26