How long ’til Geoff Molson realizes Pierre Gauthier is not the man for the job?

Posted: October 22, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Did you notice that the Habs are 1-5 for the season so far? I know, I know, few have mentioned this in recent days but there it is. The Hab-nots have won one game all year – and to add insult to injury, the only team they could beat was the lowly Winnipeg Jets.

Professional sports writers love to laugh at us fans and our passion for our team, and the most common refrain so far this season from the media pundits is – ‘Oh don’t worry, it’s early in the season.’

But Montreal has already dug itself into quite a hole. Of course, they could still make the playoffs. But it’s gonna be a lot harder now and it’s just gonna get harder this week with games against Florida – expect José Theodore to stand on his head against his old team – and then bouts with Phillie – that should go well for the Habs, not! – and a home-and-home series with the Boston Bruins.

We should be worried and if we’re worried, that should have us wondering why the most storied franchise in NHL history has left its fate in the hands of our favourite Vermonter Pierre Gauthier. My pal Brendan Clarke quipped – ‘It’s easy to fire Jacques Martin. At least it’s a local call.’ Gauthier will last longer ’cause Habs president Geoff Molson will have to dip into the team’s long-distance phone account to call up Gauthier in Vermont to tell him he’s persona non grata.

Philippe Cantin has a spot-on column in La Presse Saturday titled ‘Des questions pour Pierre Gauthier‘ and he’s dead right on every point.

Erik Cole? He picks him up for four years and some big bucks, and the guy has been invisible thus far. In the first game of the season, Martin puts him on the third line and barely plays him on the power-play. Then he tells the media Cole is no ‘saviour’. WTF? Is the coach in some kind of Mario Tremblay-esque macho spitting match with his star power forward? If not, what the hell is going on?

Then there’s the Andrei Markov file. He’s still in Florida with his doctor and shows no signs of returning to the chilly north any time soon. WTF2! Why did Gauthier sign him for three years and $17 million with the very real possibility he’ll never return entirely healthy to the Habs line-up? The Montreal defense without Markov is clearly pretty good – if the team was playing in the AHL.

In fact, if anyone can think of any brilliant moves Gauthier has made to make the Habs stronger, I’d love to hear about them.

But the real reason we should be unhappy with Gauthier is because he’s so reluctant to fire his old pal Martin. The coach’s cautious, old-school defensive style isn’t working. It didn’t work in that all-too-winnable series last spring against the Bruins when Coach Martin put on the brakes every time Montreal was up a goal and panicked when we were down a goal. (Just remember that Timmy Thomas was no superstar at that point in the playoffs. He was just okay against the Habs, a team he’s never done particularly well against, and he improved big-time as the Bruins moved forward in the post-season).

But why should we be surprised that Gauthier is one flat general manager. That’s pretty well par-for-the-course for an organization that hasn’t won anything since 1993 and traded away many of its most talented players – including a not-so-bad goalie named Patrick Roy, the last great Habs captain Mike Keane (a throw-in in the Roy deal from Réjean Houle), major point-getter Mike Ribeiro (’cause Saku didn’t like the competition at centre) and 2010 playoff hero Jaro Halak (’cause Carey Price didn’t like the competition between the pipes).

It’s a successive line of upper managers who’ve kept this a sad-sack team for 18 years and current management is just the latest example of this quest-for-mediocrity. Sad to say, maybe the team needs to lose a few more games so Molson will finally realize that he can’t be Mr. Nice Guy if he truly is serious about contending for the Stanley Cup any time soon. Nice guys? They finish last.

– Brendan


  1. cleanhead says:

    I could add more bad Gauthier moves to the list, including the Gomez trade (with McDonough as a throw-in) that he had a major hand in, and the debacle with Dominic Moore (could have had him for nothing in September, traded him for a 2nd round pick later in the season, let him go at the end of the year), and the failure to build a decent 4th line.

    But the Halak trade was clearly a good move, even if it didn’t appear so at the time. Price is a better goalie now, and he will be for the next 10-12 years. Gauthier might have been able to get more for Halak than Eller, but Eller is looking pretty good at this point.

    • topshelfbk says:

      You’re right that losing Dominic Moore was one of many major mis-steps of the Gauthier era but though I’ve grumbled about him in the past, have to admit also that it would’ve been nice to have Hamrlik’s experience on the blue-line this year. Also I am big enough to now say that the Price-Halak decision looks like the right one just about now – and I was ready to picket the Bell Centre when the deal was first announced! But the season is young yet. I don’t believe Halak will be riding the pine for all that much longer and we’ll have to see if Price can remain solid for the entire season. But there’s no denying he had a very strong year last year, though his one playoff series was only OK.

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