Gainey finally gone

Oh happy day. Bob Gainey is finally no longer the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. [picapp align=”right” wrap=”true” link=”term=bob+gainey&iid=5153313″ src=”f/f/a/d/2009_NHL_Entry_70ed.jpg?adImageId=10046132&imageId=5153313″ width=”234″ height=”312″ /]

This is something I’ve wanted for more than a year, culminating in a giant post back in December, listing 23 things Gainey has done wrong in his tenure as Habs GM (you can read it here).

To summarize it, Gainey has made mistakes in drafting, free agency, trades and hiring coaches.

Of course, this decision comes about 10 months too late. It would have been better if he stepped down before he put this team into salary cap hell. It’s going to make the job that much harder for the replacement.

The Habs next season has about $10 million in salary cap space. But they need to sign Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Tomas Plekanec, Glen Metropolit, Sergei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, Maxim Lapierre, Mathieu Darche and Matt D’Agostini. And that doesn’t include Marc-Andre Bergeron or Paul Mara.

Throw on top of that the fact that many are predicting the salary cap is going to decrease next year, and it doesn’t look good for the Habs.

Look at what several of those players will be getting. Pleks will sign for about $4.5 million a year. Price will want a long-term contract that pays him about $4 to $5 million a year on average. Halak thinks he’s the #1 goalie, and will want to be paid like it (and has a very good agent). But say he gets $3 million a year.

That already brings the cap to the max, with six players still to sign, and most of them around the $1 million range or higher. Even if they were replaced with young players on the farm, they would be making the league minimum, and would still put the team above the salary cap.

Let’s be honest here. Except for one year, this team has never really improved since Gainey took over. Our farm team may be winning games, but most of them struggle when they get called up to the big club. The Habs can’t win in the playoffs. They can’t score 5 on 5. There’s an argument about who is the true #1 goalie. There’s no consistency on the ice. No one knows what the direction is for this team.

Let’s face the facts. Gainey got an extra pass because he was a great Habs player. A lot of fans remember him from the late 70s to the mid-80s, leading the Canadiens to several Stanley Cups. But that doesn’t mean he’s a great GM.

So now the team is looking for a new general manager. My guess would be one won’t be announced until the summer. But if I could make a suggestion: Who cares if the new GM knows how to speak French or not. Let’s just hire the best available person. I’d rather have a guy who can get this team to contend for the Stanley Cup and doesn’t know French instead of someone who can speak it but the team struggles every season.

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