He was gone. Vamoosh. Never to be heard from again.
With production worthy of a United League fourth liner, the former Beantown star found himself waived – with no takers – then banished to Rockford.
Criticized for his lack of desire and conditioning in both La Belle Province and the Windy City, intelligent hockey pundits, such as my colleague Brian Costello, were sure his NHL days were done.
And who could blame them? Twenty-six points in 63 games with the Habs in 2006-07 and a mere four assists in 23 contests with the Hawks this season. Yikes.
But not so fast. For half of his $3.5-million salary, the Carolina Hurricanes took a chance the 29-year-old could rediscover his scoring touch, nabbing him off re-entry waivers and inserting him on their top line.
And suddenly, to the chagrin of Blackhawks fans everywhere, Sergei Samsonov was reborn.
“It’s a new opportunity for him,” coach Peter Laviolette told the Raleigh News and Observer in late January. “A second chance from where he was coming from.
“I think everybody knew that that was in him and this was an opportunity to get it out of him.”
To say “everybody” – or even “anybody” – knew he still had it in him is at best a stretch and at worst an outright lie.
Not even GM Jim Rutherford could say (with a straight face, anyway) he knew for certain the former eighth overall pick would tally nine points in 12 games since his southern arrival.
It was a roll of the dice, even if it was one with little risk as Samsonov’s contract expires this summer.
Thankfully for the Canes, unlike my Super Bowl bet, this gamble has paid off.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog appears Thursdays.
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