How Guillaume Latendresse became our Kyle Wellwood
By now, little children in rural Oman who have never set eyes on a hockey stick or, like, ice, know that Kyle Wellwood is fat. And if you didn’t know that, shame on you. Kindly refrain from calling yourself ‘a person who has access to the internet’ until you have read this.
Kyle Wellwood is the gift that keeps on giving… agreeing that Kyle Wellwood is fat and inventing new ways to call him fat are pretty much the only two activities that Habs and Leafs fans can participate in together without broken bones and stab wounds. In fact, Leafs fans have been quite generous with the Kyle Wellwood Is Fat movement and allowed fans of all other other teams to join it. Except for Canucks fans, of course, but if they ever get this thing called a ‘sense of humour’ I’m sure they’ll get an invite, too.
Leafs fans do not have the monopoly on corpulent ingrate former players, however. We Habs fans have our very own fatty as of the 2009-2010 season. You might know him as Guillaume Latendresse, or Fat Gui for short.
Long before there was a Jesus Price, there was a Jesus Latendresse. Gui was drafted. Gui was French-Canadian. Gui had upside. Gui was big. And Gui was already good. When he signed a rookie maximum contract and decided on his sweater number, 84, few people realized that he chose it in honour of the number of hot dogs he could eat in one sitting. Habs fans lined up in droves to buy their Latendresse jerseys anyway. Our first clue should have been that said jerseys were only available in XXXL or larger, but in our optimism and excitement about Gui’s future, it didn’t really matter to us.
Early in Gui’s career as a Montreal Canadien, he displayed the potential we all knew he had, and there was a lot to look forward to. The only knock really was on his skating, but as has been noted many times, he’s not really a slow skater once he gets going, he just has some trouble pushing off. Because he’s the size of a planet.
One of my favourite things about Gui as a Montreal Canadien was his seeming ability to deliver crushing hits on opposing players. Now I realize the building was just shaking under the weight of Gui falling into the boards while an unfortunate opposing player happened to be in the way.
Gui’s ability to improve on his first season and claim a permanent spot in the Top 6 was derailed by what he later called “pressure.” Sure, if ‘pressure’ were a new term for ‘going out for burgers with Annie Villeneuve.’ After much patience and a complaint from Pierre Boivin and the Molsons that the Canadiens’ nutrition budget was costing more than Maxim Lapierre’s daily gas budget for his Hummer, Bob Gainey traded him to the Minnesota Wild for Benoit Pouliot.
Of course, Gui decided he never got enough ice time in Montreal, and that the organization’s expectations for him were too high. I guess “don’t be fat” is far too lofty an expectation one should have for Gui. And like any player who leaves Montreal, he proceeded to put up the numbers all Montreal fans knew he had in him for another team. Nothing but a glorified couch cushion in Montreal, a power forward on any other team.
He credits his new linemates and chemistry with guys like Martin Havlat with helping him succeed in Minnesota. But Habs fans know the truth. He’s taking out all his frustration due to Minnesota’s lack of all-night poutine places on the ice.
Really, we should have known Gui would turn out to be a lazyass. In a “Get to know your Canadiens” clip from 2007, when asked what animal he would be, Gui replied he would be a bear, because he would not have to do anything but eat and sleep all day. I am not making this up. You can find the video buried somewhere in here.