By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Surely you already thought the Canadiens made a huge mistake trading P.K. Subban straight up for the older, more expensive, and arguably less talented Shea Weber. If new reports are to be believed, it’s amazingly become even worse.
Although Weber is still one of the elite defensemen in the league, acquiring him for Subban with no other assets moved still doesn’t seem to make much hockey or business sense for the Habs. So it would make more sense to know that Matt Pfeffer, whom the Canadiens hired as an “analytics consultant” for the 2015-16 season, “made an impassioned and elaborate presentation” arguing against the Subban trade, according to Eric Engels of Sportsnet in an interview with Subban posted Wednesday.
Engels had tweeted earlier in the day that the Canadiens had told Pfeffer his contract would not be renewed. He added that his source “suggested Pfeffer’s vehemence on the matter might have ultimately cost him his job.”
Not only did the Canadiens shun Subban himself, but apparently, they also shunned anyone who supported the very idea of keeping him around.
The Habs told Engels that they are “looking into other analytics solutions,” so this move isn’t necessarily a rejection of analytics as a whole. But Pfeffer’s ouster, combined with his apparently earnest attempt to stop the almost universally panned trade, can’t help but raise some eyebrows.
Pfeffer released a statement Thursday to clarify the situation. While he didn’t say why the team let him go besides the standard “different direction” explanation, he didn’t exactly deny that his opposition to the Subban trade led to his dismissal.
“Ultimately, this is the nature of this kind of work. Management makes their decision based on a variety of criteria,” said Pfeffer in his statement. “Their evaluation may have been different in this case, but there was consensus on other decisions through my time with the team.
“The Canadiens treated me with the utmost respect. … They are a world class organization. I understand that they desired to go in a different direction. I was thankful to be a part of their team.”
I’m picturing Pfeffer running around the Bell Centre with all kinds of charts and documents under his arm, fumbling over himself as he sprints to Marc Bergevin’s office in a last-ditch effort. And I’m picturing the Habs front office dismissing him like the “Misterrr scientist!” guy from the “AWESOME-O” episode of South Park.
This may just be one big coincidence, but you know you want to believe the Canadiens are being that stubborn about the undeniably bad Subban trade. And whatever happened with Pfeffer, there’s no doubt he was onto something. Whatever direction the Habs want to go in now, it’s not one that involves saying anything positive about Subban.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. His opinions do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.