GAINEY GETS HIS MAN


“What was Gainey’s rush?!?!”

“Boring, defensive hockey comes to the Montreal Canadiens!!!”

“The guy has as much personality as a wet noodle.”

…and so it goes.  Just some of the reaction to this week’s hiring of Jacques Martin by the Montreal Canadiens as their new head coach.  Personally, I think Jacques Martin is just what the doctor ordered for this ailing franchise.  But apparently, I may be in the minority here.

For starters, let’s look at the three above-mentioned criticisms.

What was Gainey’s rush?

I’ll tell you what was Gainey’s rush.  Gainey was in a rush to put a head coach into place with some time to spare leading up to the NHL Entry Draft, that will be held June 26-27, at the Bell Centre.  Gainey was in a rush to finally add a sense of stability to a franchise that had been drifting without a full-time head coach since Guy Carbonneau was fired on March 9, and a franchise further set adrift with word that team’s ownership is about to change  hands. Finally, a sense of direction from the Habs as they now move into high gear to assess the 10 potential unrestricted free agents they have on this team, and they players they will need to find to replace the UFA’s who don’t come back.  I’d say Gainey had several good reasons to be in a rush, wouldn’t you??

Boring, defensive  hockey comes to Montreal.  

And this would be a bad thing?!?!?  The fact that Jacques Martin had a large measure of success as a defensive-minded coach, largely with the Ottawa Senators, is something I’m thrilled to see on his C.V.  The Montreal Canadiens were a terrible team last season when they weren’t playing with the puck.  The fact that they weren’t much better when they DID have possession of the puck, is another story.  Defense wins championships.  Okay, Jacques Martin hasn’t won any championships in his lengthy tenure as an NHL head coach, but that’s because he didn’t have a goaltender in Ottawa who could win a playoff game.  Martin’s system turned a mediocre Ottawa team into a very good Ottawa team.  That works for me.  Hopefully, it’ll work with the Montreal Canadiens.

Jacques Martin’s personality, or lack of same.

Apparently this is an issue with some fans. Hmmm. Let me see now.  The last coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Guy Carbonneau, had a pretty fiery temperment.  Carbonneau was an emotional coach who wore his heart on his sleeve.  He spoke his mind and took no prisoners.  And where did it land him?  On the unemployment line.  Jacques Martin isn’t a politician.  He isn’t a stand-up comic (although a few laughs were sorely needed in what was a disastrous Centennial Season.)  He’s a head coach.  A professional head coach.  A head coach with experience.  Lots of it.  A head coach who finally brings to this organization a body of NHL knowledge that the Canadiens have been lacking since the days of Jacques Demers.  

Jacques Martin was even criticized by some over the suit he wore to the Bell Centre when the Canadiens introduced him as the 29th head coach in franchise history.  THE COLOUR OF HIS SUIT, FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!!  LIKE THAT’S GONNA MAKE A DIFFERENCE WHEN IT COMES TO HIS QUALITIES AS A HEAD COACH!!!!!!

For the record.  It was a brown with faint pinstripes.

Listen to me.  Jacques Martin doesn’t have to impress us with his wit or his charm.  Or his wardrobe.  He has to take the players he has in that dressing room and get the most out of them.  End of story.

Actually, the story is just beginning for Jacques Martin, who may have come out of left field in all of this.  But he is the right man for the job.

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About ahefter

I have covered hockey extensively during my 30-year sports broadcasting career. From the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid to the Edmonton Oiler dynasty years, I've shared my views on hockey with listeners in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. You can "catch me in action" on Youtube at the following URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n5BdB9ngYw My radio stops include TSN 690 Montreal, CJAD Montreal, CKNW Vancouver, and CKEY Toronto. I also ran the Canadian Press sports desk (radio). My travels as a network reporter have taken me to four Olympics, most recently Vancouver 2010. I'm currently an Applied Assistant Professor within the School of Communication at the University of Hartford.
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