“There were certain games when I had real confusion with the overall [effort]. There were games where our team was not emotionally engaged.”
Sound familar? This was Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey the day he fired Guy Carbonneau, and took over as coach.
Well guess what Bob? Maybe it wasn’t the coaching. Maybe it was the team that was assembled. Who was it that assembled said team? It was you Bob.
And for this, Bob, you have to go. I’m sorry, but it’s the way it is. Let’s refresh what you’ve done since you took over as general manager. You had a five-year plan.
You started off by firing Claude Julien as coach. You know, the guy who is about to win the Jack Adams award as the league’s best coach.
You brought in Guy Carbonneau to replace him. Last season, Carbonneau said Carey Price wasn’t ready for the NHL. You corrected the coach immediately, and rushed Price into the league. This season, it looks like it was the wrong choice.
Players don’t seem to want to come to Montreal. Those that do, seem to want to leave.
Why do players seem to do better in other cities? Michael Ryder had some good seasons in Montreal, until Carbonneau took over as coach. Then, he went in the doghouse. He was pretty much driven out of town.
This season, with the Boston Bruins, Ryder scored 27 goals. That is more than any other Hab this season. He scored 10 powerplay goals, which would have him second on this team. He was a plus 28, which is better than any Canadien. And he scored seven game-winning goals, which would also be tops on this team.
The team plays with no passion, similar to their new coach. Remember when you fired Carbonneau this season? His record at the time was 35-24-7. So you took over for the last 16 games. The Habs went 6-6-4. Guess how many of those wins came against playoff teams? One. The Blackhawks.
The six wins. Five of them were against the Islanders, Thrashers, Lightning, Maple Leafs and the Oilers. All non-playoff teams.
Our record against playoff teams? 1-3-2. One win in six games against playoff teams.
So obviously, the problem must have been the coaching, and not the team you assembled.
There are other mistakes. Counting on Alexei Kovalev to be the impact player. Not getting a go-to guy. Not getting an experience backup goalie to help Price during his growing pains.
Two seasons ago, the Habs were in top spot at Christmas, and then choked and missed the playoffs. This season, they barely backed into the playoffs.
It’s a pattern. The team needs to be shaken up, and it needs to start at the top.