If it’s personality that Habs’ fans are looking for from the next general manager of this team, the Canadiens should go out and hire Don Rickles to keep the masses happy.
I hear he’s available. You hockey puck.
I think it’s a given that Pierre Gauthier will not be back as GM next season. And although it’s easy to question some of the moves he’s made since taking over from Bob Gainey, many Habs fans — and many in the media — seem to be hung up with Gauthier’s personality; the same way that Jacques Martin wasn’t exciting enough behind the bench.
The Leafs’ Brian Burke could be available, sooner, rather than later (although I suspect it’ll be later). Burke, who has never met a microphone he didn’t like, is a terrific quote. And I’ll be the first to admit that, on the day Randy Carlyle was named head coach of the Leafs — prior to a game against the Canadiens at the Bell Centre — it was refreshing to listen to Burke speak with passion, conviction and candor. He’s a guy who certainly wears his heart on his sleeve.
However, last time I checked, the Leafs have finished out of the playoffs, yet again. I wonder how Burke’s act is playing in Toronto, these days.
If you want to complain about the fact that Pierre Gauthier went out and picked up the washed-up Tomas Kaberle, go ahead. If you believe Gauthier could have done a whole lot better than Rene Bourque when he sent Michael Cammalleri packing, you’d be making a valid point.
However, if you are hung up over the fact that Pierre Gauthier calls his players “Mr.”, isn’t quick with a quip, and often sounds like he’s reading from the back of a cereal box, you’re barking up the wrong tree.
You’re also going to be very disappointed when the Habs skip over someone like Pierre Mcguire in favour of someone like, let’s just say, for arguments sake, Julien Brisebois, when it comes to replce P.G. as the G.M. of this club.
I’m here all week. Try the veal.
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Prior to the start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, I predicted that the Canadiens would finish in 7th place in the Eastern Conference.
I was wrong.
I never thought the Habs would move to the next level with the roster that they had (Bob Gainey often talked about the strides the Canadiens would have to take to become a top-four club in the East.) However, I never thought that they would, on Feb. 29, 2012, find themselves in last place in their conference.
As a result, instead of leading Habs’ fans through the inevitable finger-biting associated with a last-gasp effort to secure a playoff spot, as has been the case in recent season, Canadiens’ supporters are left wondering what kind of top draft pick the team will emerge with, as a result of this season of futility.
Are the Canadiens a better team than their 15th-place record would indicate?
Offensively, they are a one-dimensional club led by the line of Desharnais-Cole-Pacioretty. That’s it, that’s all.
Defensively they are a team in shambles as a result of the injured Andrei Markov, the underperforming Chris Campoli, the overrated Tomas Kaberle, and the underwhelming Yannick Webber.
In goal, Carey Price has been good on most nights with gusts of terrific. He needed to be great this season to give this team a shot at the playoffs.
Forget about the guys behind the bench. Jacques Martin didn’t deserve to be fired any more than Randy Cunneyworth deserved to be thrown under the bus when he was given the job as head coach.
Sorry. INTERIM head coach.
And so it goes. With five weeks left in the regular season, most Habs fans can’t wait until its over.
Mercy rule, anyone?
Move over P.K. Subban, you’ve got plenty of company.
On a night when Subban stepped up to take his share of the blame for the Canadiens 5-1 loss in Chicago, there were plenty of Habs who should have stepped forward and taken responsibility.
“Looking at myself, I think I cost our team two games in a row,” said Subban.
Yes, Subban was minus two for the second straight game, but he was not alone in that department: Michael Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges and Travis Moen were all minus THREE as the Canadiens dropped their fourth straight; the third in a row in the Randy Cunneyworth era; leaving Cunneyworth looking for his first win as the Canadiens’ INTERIM bench boss. The list goes on: Campoli, Kaberle, Desharnais and Pacioretty were all minus two.
Jacques Martin bashers were dancing in the streets last night. At least up until around 9:45 p.m., when the siren went on a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre.
Some 12 hours after General Manager Pierre Gauthier fired Martin, the Habs took to the ice with Randy Cunneyworth at the helm. Cunneyworth was named interim head coach after Gauthier had determined that the results he was seeing on the ice were unacceptable.
Funny. That’s a word I would use to describe last night’s effort, as well: unacceptable. After Gauthier pointed a finger squarely at Martin and the team’s inability to hold a lead, the Canadiens promptly went out and blew another lead: this one, a 3-2 advantage that Montreal had built up through the opening 30 minutes of last night’s hockey game.
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Don’t count me among those ready to throw Jacques Martin under the bus as a result of the Canadiens record of 1-5-2 that includes a current six-game losing streak. I am not convinced that firing the coach is going to make one ounce of difference. The answer lies with the 21 players in that locker room.
Now that we got THAT out of the way, let’s move on, shall we?
Through this gruesome stretch, Martin has, by and large, kept his cool and maintained a stiff upper lip. In fact, he’s flashed a keen sense of humour, on occasion, at a time when Canadiens’ fans haven’t had much to smile about. Yes, he did recently take a reporter to task when asked why he would give someone like Mathieu Darche power play time ahead of someone like Erik Cole. It was a reasonable question, and it was a reasonable, if somewhat testy answer, that was drenched in sarcasm when there was no need for it.
Yes, we know Darche has earned his ice time on the power play. Make the point, Coach, and move on. Martin delivered what I would term a backhanded apology the following day when he commended the same reporter for asking a “good question.”
Whatever. Forget the questions. What Jacques Martin is desperately looking for, are some answers. However, as he searches for answers in an effort to turn this club around, I take issue with something Martin pointed out the other day after a morning skate at Brossard: that two years ago, this team started off with a similar losing record. The inference being: Look how things turned out for THAT team.
Well, yes we know how things turned out for THAT team, thanks, in a large part, to the play of Jaroslav Halak. But Martin is way off base when he compares the early season struggles of the 2009-10 team what the current edition of this club is dealing with.
Two years ago, the Canadiens reported to training camp wearing name tags. It followed an off-season of upheaval that resulted in players like Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev being jettisoned in favour of the likes of Brian Gionta and Michael Cammalleri. It was certainly no surprise to me that the ’09-’10 version of this club needed time to gel. But this is year three for this core group of players brought in by then-GM Bob Gainey. The comparison is unfair. The expectations are higher this season, and rightly so. Yes, the team is dealing with injuries. All teams deal with injuries. So deal with them. That’s why general managers were invented.
The results, however, have been disastrous. So far.
However, let’s move on from this history lesson, shall we, and look ahead to the Flyers tomorrow night, the Bruins in Boston Thursday night, and the Bruins at the Bell Centre Saturday night. Jacques Martin is still the coach of this hockey club, last time I checked. it is up to each and every player in that locker room to show up and play for the coach and deliver an effort worthy of those big fat paychecks that each and every one of them receive.
Th 21,000 who shell out good money to watch these guys play hockey at the Bell Centre deserve no less, regardless of WHO is behind the bench.
I may be in the minority here, but I like what general manager Pierre Gauthier has done to this Canadiens’ team. I would have liked it more, had he addressed the club’s need for “team toughness”, as former coach Guy Carbonneau used to put it. Someone like a Chris Neil, or a (wait for it) Sean Avery. However, Gauthier’s big move during the off-season was the signing of free-agent forward Erik Cole who seems to have found a home on the 3rd line (?) if the opening game against the Leafs is any indication.
Cole didn’t come cheap. But free agents never do, especially when they come to Montreal.
Gauthier has made some nice acquisitions in his time as GM; Dominic Moore, Jeff Halpern and James Wisniewski to name just a few. You could make an argument for trying to make an attempt to keep all three of them in town, but all three left almost as quickly as they arrived. I would put Chris Campoli in that category as well, as a solid find; a poor-man’s Wisniewski, if you will. Then there’s Rafael Diaz, who could end up finding a permanent home along the blueline this season, and for good reason. The odd man out could be Alexei Emelin, who doesn’t appear to be ready for prime time, despite all the hype, and all the playing time, in Russia.
I do, however, have an issue with the way the Canadiens have handled Andrei Markov’s off-season. It seems pretty clear to me that Markov suffered what can only be described as a setback in his rehab following knee surgery. The Canadiens should have been on Markov like a hawk in the months following his surgery, and, for the life of me, I can not understand how the Habs let their $17.25 million dollar investment get into this predicament. The season has started, and Markov isn’t even skating with the team yet.
Did I mention that Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill aren’t getting any younger? Actually, I’m fine with the decision to keep Gill around. I wasn’t fine with much of what I saw out of Spacek last season.
PK Subban is a superstar in the making, and will only get better, if he can manage to control his need to do it all on the ice, which has cost him on more than one occasion. Oh yes. Jacques Martin’s decision to bench Subban near the start of last season made him a better player, even though you (yes, YOU!) didn’t think so at the time.
Up front, Blair Betts is the new fourth-line flavour of the week. Works for me. The Canadiens aren’t going to win or lose too many hockey games by virtue of the performance of their fourth line. We all know who has to carry the mail up front. Repeat after me: Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole. A top-six showing from Andrei Kostitsyn would definitely help. Max Pacioretty and Lars Eller could be ready for a break-out seasons. And the always-appreciated Mathieu Darche will make it his business to put that big body of his in front of the opposing goaltender.
However, for the Montreal Canadiens it starts and ends with goalie Carey Price. This is a conversation we had this time last year, and we continue to have it. However, as we saw last season, an all-star like performance by Price alone isn’t going to lead this team to the promised land. As we saw far too often last season, and again against the Leafs on opening night, you’re not going to win too many games if you can’t put the puck in the net. And I’m not convinced that the Canadiens have the horses necessary to become a top-four team in the East. Which means they will once again be left to battle it out for a playoff spot over the final weeks of the regular season.
The 2011-12 edition of the Canadiens will finish in 7th place in what will once again be a very tight Eastern conference race this season.
Alex Kovalev is coming back to Montreal to play.
Kovalev is scheduled to arrive from Russia tonight as he gets set to tee it up in his annual Kovalev for Kids Golf Tournament, which is being held tomorrow at Golf Saint Rafael in Ile Bizard. Among those on hand for the event, Kovalev’s former Habs’ teammate, Tomas Plekanec.
Kovalev in town brings back memories of his days as a Hab. There were good times, and there were frustrating times. Remember when he brought the house down with his inspirational performance when the All-Star Game was held at the Bell Centre as part of the Canadiens’ 100th anniversary celebration?
There was the 2007-2008 season, when he produced 84 points while playing on a line with Plekanec and Andrei Kosktitsyn. More good times. Then there was Bob Gainey’s decision to tell Kovalev to take some time off in 2009, at a time when the enigmatic forward was struggling.
Frustrating times. Too many of them, for too many Habs’ fans.
Whether you loved Alex Kovalev in a Canadiens’ uniform, or hated him, life was never dull when number 27 laced ‘em up at the Bell Centre.
Let me be the first to admit that when Kovalev became an unrestricted free agent in July following two mediocre seasons in Ottawa and Pittsburgh, the thought crossed my mind that it might be fun to see Kovalev back in a Montreal uniform for one more kick at the can. To see if Jacques Martin could somehow coax one more 30-goal season out of that stick of his. To see Alex Kovalev get his wish and ride off into the sunset and retire as a member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Call me sentimental, what can I tell you.
Instead, Kovalev returns to Montreal for a whirlwind 24 hours, or so, before he heads back to Russia after signing a two-year deal to play with Atlant Mytischi of the Kontinental Hockey League.
Any way you slice it, Alex Kovalev will be missed.
Jeff Halpern on a line with Michael Cammalleri and Tomas Plekanec? Sure, why not.
Scott Gomez re-united with Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty? Go right ahead.
Those are some of the moves in the works as Canadiens’ head coach Jacques Martin prepares his troops for tonight’s game in Vancouver against the Canucks. With the Habs in a tailspin which has seen them drop six of their last seven games, you can’t blame Martin (I don’t blame Martin) for shaking things up in an effort to come out of this three-game Western road trip with a point or two.
Before you hang the coach out to dry as a result of the team’s current tailspin, here are the cold, hard facts: Jacques Martin is working with the deck that he has been dealt. There are very few aces in this 23-man deck.
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Three games into the regular season, and Canadiens’ head coach Jacques Martin is already playing musical chairs as a way to kick-start forward Benoit Pouliot.
Truth be told, The Coach should also pull a couple of chairs for Pouliot’s linemates, Scott Gomez and Team Captain Brian Gionta. Martin had given Pouliot the benefit of the doubt by playing him with Gionta and Gomez since the start of the season. When it comes to Pouliot, the seeds of doubt were sewn last season, when he fell off map after initially starting his career with the Habs in fine fashion when he came over from the Minnesota Wild for Guillaume Latendresse.
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