Archive for February, 2011

23
Feb
11

Is Walmart Getting Desperate?

It doesn’t take a financial wizard to notice with 7 consecutive quarters of declining same store sales that something negative is brewing at Walmart. If you have visited a Walmart store recently, it becomes obvious that they have reduced the number of items they carry, sometimes leaving much more floor and shelve space than before. It wasn’t long ago that you could visit a Walmart and see the shelves packed with those everyday goods that everyone buys for the household and now there seems to be not enough of those products at every location. In the old days, Walmart’s everyday prices for products were lower than anywhere else, now only the sale items might be but with the rest of the non-sale items, the prices have been raised dramatically. Is it to make up for the fewer customers shopping at the stores or the increasing costs for them? Either or, this is far from Walmart’s old strategy to be the one stop shopping store for overall savings for the customer. The store hours seem to have been reduced at many Walmart locations.

I remember at one time, the line ups at the checkout were insane and now notice at Walmart even with fewer cash registers open, the line ups are shorter. If you notice around you’ll see a few of those people whose carts are filled to the brim with compulsive items and wonder what if it weren’t for those people, how would Walmart fare? With their domestic operations declining in growth, Walmart has focused on expanding beyond US borders with new supercenters in Canada and the rest of the world to make up for the sales shortage. Is Walmart finally hitting it’s plateau in how much it can grow? Is stiff competition from dollar stores and other competitors causing it to change from it’s original business model? Is the end of the big box store coming soon to a theatre near you? Has Walmart overgrown and following the footsteps of the likes of Blockbuster Video, Circuit City, Kmart, Sears, Borders and Krispy Kreme? How will the steep inflation being encountered in countries like China (where Walmart imports the most from) affect their ability to remain profitable and competitive? Only time will tell but this story is looking all too familiar.

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17
Feb
11

Will the Habs go after Joel Champagne from the Quebec Remparts?

Last summer the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their legacy of giving up on a prospect by relinquishing their rights to LaSalle native Joel Champagne from the Quebec league. At 6’4″ and 220lbs, the barely 21 year old Quebec Remparts star who has consistently put up points in his tenure in the QMJHL is without a contract before even getting a chance at the next level, just fresh off a great performance during the 2009-2010 playoffs in the juniors. The Montreal Canadiens who have had a history of signing un-drafted/un-signed players have a couple of smaller forwards in their Hamilton Bulldogs AHL affiliate but are lacking the size and strength that Champagne brings to the game. After watching last weeks game against the Boston Bruins, many realize it has been many years that the Montreal Canadiens have had a larger power forward to control the game when playing against physically challenging teams. A noticeably improved player with good face-off skills and smart with staying out of the penalty box (and avoiding stupid penalties), Joel Champagne now finds himself in the top 8 scoring in the whole QMJHL.

Canadiens fans salivate over the ability to bring a Vincent Lecavalier type player to the Bell Centre but forget that sometimes, it can be easier than they think. There is a great deal to be said of a player that Patrick Roy (the owner of the Quebec Remparts) will trade for in the Quebec league. With some promising young talent on the Montreal Canadiens (present and future), there still is the need for the big centre that they haven’t had since the likes of Jean Beliveau. That presence is only one quick signing away and his name is Joel Champagne….

14
Feb
11

Is Habs David Desharnais the second coming of Henri Richard?

It has all the makings of a legendary story for the ages. A player who is over-looked in the NHL draft, elected CHL Sportsmanlike Player of the Year in 2006 for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL the team in which he amassed 374 points in the 4 seasons he played for them (of which he was consistently a top 5 scorer in his last 3 seasons in the league as he Captained the Sagueneens). Then, as a member of the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2007-2008 David Desharnais won the ECHL Rookie of the Year, Scoring Champion, and League MVP not to mention leading them to win the Kelly Cup Championship. On his next road trip to the Hamilton Bulldogs (the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate) David is 1st team all-star in the AHL in 2011, also the team scoring leader in 2009-2010 (where he sets a records for most number of points by a Bulldog player in the season) and is called up to the Montreal Canadiens in the midst of him leading the entire AHL in scoring (where heck he still leads the Bulldogs in scoring even though he’s played nearly a quarter of the season up in Montreal). A small player by today’s NHL standards David Desharnais at 5’7″ has the heart of a lion and the nifty playmaking capabilities that reminds one of a past Hab great namely Henri Richard (The Pocket Rocket). Anyone including myself who has followed his career right back from his Chicoutimi days knew he would make it in the NHL. On February 12th, 2011 after scoring a goal and an assist where the rookie won 12 of his 16 faceoffs and taking home the 1st star of the game in front of a packed Montreal home crowd against the Toronto Maple Leafs it became obvious that a new home-town star has risen for the Montreal Canadiens named David Desharnais.

12 of his 16 faceoffs