Did the Blackhawks brain trust notice what happened in Montreal over the past two seasons? Apparently not. When Habs president Geoff Molson decided to toss M. Gauthier on the trash-heap of history this spring, I called Ghost Gauthier ”the most enigmatic of Canadiens’ general managers.”
The man was allergic to the media – hey who can blame him? – but he also seemed allergic to most of humanity. Under his tenure, the Habs became a Soviet-like centralized state, with absolutely no delegation of authority in sight. And that was the upside of the Gauthier era.
Did I mention Tomas Kaberle? Here’s a guy who was so washed-up that the Bruins won the Cup with him and dumped him. Then the Hurricanes – for reasons known only to ‘Canes GM’s Jim Rutherford’s psychiatrist – picked him up and Rutherford soon saw the error of his ways, publicly talking about Kaberle’s poor physical shape and lack of commitment to the team.
So ace dealmaker Gauthier promptly picked up Kaberle – and left the team stuck with another couple of years of the oh-so-soft player’s pricey contract. Ditto for Rene Bourque. Major Major Gauthier trades Michael Cammalleri to Calgary for Bourque when everyone knows Bourque is firing blanks. Everyone except Gauthier. Another disastrous trade that is going to haunt the Canadiens for years to come.
In short, we’re still paying for so many of Gauthier’s moves. And I haven’t even got to the ultimate muck-up – the firing of Jacques Martin and his replacement with a unilingual Anglophone, creating one of the worst crises in the history of the Canadiens. And it could’ve been so easily avoided if Gauthier – or anyone in the Habs’ executive suites for that matter – had been thinking. But ultimately firing the coach is the GM’s responsibility – and Gauthier blew that dossier in classic fashion.
So why did Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, presumably a bright guy, reach out for Gauthier? No idea. I just feel sorry for my Blackhawks-fan friends.