Blame Pierre: Was Gauthier the reason McDonagh got traded to New York?

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In light of what Ryan McDonagh’s done for the New York Rangers this postseason, many are revisiting the 2007 trade that saw Montreal flip the promising young blueliner in exchange for Scott Gomez (and his albatross of a contract.)

There’s been no shortage of blame for dealing McDonagh — Montreal’s scouting department (for not recognizing how talented he was), then-GM Bob Gainey (for pulling the trigger) — but the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson has a new one:

Pierre Gauthier.

Gauthier was Gainey’s assistant at the time and eventually ascended to the GM gig.

Here’s the skinny.

The trade of McDonagh to the Rangers to get Scott Gomez came on Bob Gainey’s watch when he was the GM. This should tarnish Gainey’s reputation for knowing who can play in the NHL and who can’t, but several sources say Gauthier’s fingerprints were really all over this one.

“Bob’s daughter had died (swept overboard at sea while working on a training ship) before this and he was letting Pierre do a lot of the work. Pierre didn’t like McDonagh, for some reason. Saw him play in the world juniors and didn’t like him. The scouts loved McDonagh, though. When he was traded, they couldn’t believe it,” said a source close to the scene.

“At least make up your mind on McDonagh after he’s played a few seasons.”

Instead, McDonagh was dealt on June 30, 2009 while he was still attending the University of Wisconsin, after he had finished his junior year there. He had just turned 20.

“The scouts didn’t think he was going to put up a lot of points, but he was big (213 pounds) and he competed,” said the source.

What Canadiens fans (and new GM Marc Bergevin) have to be irate about is that, had Gainey/Gauthier merely stayed the course, they could’ve reaped the benefits of Montreal’s outstanding scouting at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

The Habs took McDonagh 12th overall, Max Pacioretty 22nd, P.K. Subban 43rd and Yannick Weber 73rd.