Jacques Martin had to go but Habs waited too long to fire him

Posted: December 17, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

This is very much a good-news/bad-news scenario. The good news? You really need to ask? The great news is that Jacques ‘Mr. Personality’ Martin was finally thrown overboard. He had to go and it seemed in the last couple of weeks that everyone in Montreal except Geoff Molson and Pierre ‘Major Major’ Gauthier knew that.

The bad news is that Molson and Gauthier waited too long to give Marcel Marceau Martin the heave-ho. By waiting, they lost the chance to bring in Kirk Muller to replace the hapless Martin. That was a huge mistake – and you read it here first, it’s a mistake that could well cost Mr. Gauther his job before the season is out. Will Randy Cunneyworth get the job done? Maybe. But he’s hardly the best coaching talent available on the market and he comes in with the stigma of being a longtime pal of Martin’s.

And why did they have to wait so long? It was obvious as early as last spring that Martin was not the man for the job. The Habs could’ve won that series against Boston. Really. You know they could’ve. The Good Guys were up 2-0 – after two games in Boston for heaven’s sake! – and then the team blew it. That’s the Martin story in a nutshell – blowing leads! The Canadiens would go up on the Bruins and go into to the infamous defensive shell that is Trapman Martin’s trademark style.

Then this season starts off and Martin’s first major move is to publicly humiliate Erik Cole, the guy that Ghost Gauthier had gone out to get as his big free-agent acquisition in the summer, finally bringing a bona fide power forward to the team. So what does Martin do? He starts by keeping Cole off the power-play as often as possible and when asked why he’s putting on Mathieu ‘I’m a Nice Guy But I Can’t Score If My Life Depends On It’ Darche instead of Cole, Martin tells the press scrum that Cole’s not good on the PP and Darche is.

The one problem with that logic? Darche has scored three power-play goals in career. Cole has scored 43 PP goals. Also remember the context of that exchange. It was the rookie TSN 990 reporter Jessica Rusnak who asked the question and tearing a page from the macho sports rulebook, Martin openly mocked the female journalist. Even worse, he was dead wrong. That was around the same time that Martin said that Cole was no “saviour”. So what was that all about? For some reason Coach Martin was in a battle of the egos with a guy who, by the way, just happens to be leading the team in goal-scoring. Pathetic.

Then there was Martin’s obnoxious habit of blaming every defeat on the “youngsters”. Marc Antoine Godin has a good piece in La Presse Saturday that begins with the question: ‘Where would the Canadiens be without the David Desharnais line?’ And Godin is oh-so-right. Cole has 12 goals, Max Pacioretty has 11 and it could be argued that diminutive centre David Desharnais might be the team’s best forward. Desharnais is a rookie and Patch has yet to play a full season with the Habs. So it’s the kids who are the problem Mr. Martin? Meanwhile Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri are firing blanks and look like they’d rather be playing on any other team.

But the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back was when Martin took his anti-youth stance to the extreme Thursday night and benched hometown hero Louis Leblanc immediately following the rookie’s first-ever goal in the National Hockey League. What a classy move! It was just goofy. Fact was the veterans weren’t scoring and Leblanc could’ve done as much as anyone else to light a spark under the Habs and maybe tie that game up against the Flyers. In the end, the Habs lost.

Fact was the Martin “system” just wasn’t working. The team is languishing in last place in its division and shows a frightening tendency to blow leads. He was just the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Here he was helming a young team and yet he had absolutely no faith in anyone who isn’t a grizzled veteran. He’s a big believer in trapping the fans into a sleepy haze and yet this is a team just exploding at the seams with wild offensive talent. I mean look at P.K. Subban this year. The guy doesn’t know what to do. He takes the puck behind his own net, begins revving up for one of his patented zigzags up the ice and then he realizes Mr. Personality has told him he has to stay home. So he stops, thinks for a second, and usually ends up losing the puck right in front of Carey Price.

So firing Martin is a good first step in the right direction. Now let’s see how Mr. Cunneyworth fares, starting with tonight’s bout with the New Jersey Devils. I’m just hoping Pete Townsend didn’t get it right all those years ago when he penned the classic line: ‘Meet the new boss/same as the old boss.’


  1. daniel says:

    how did they miss out on Muller? isn’t he still coaching in the minors? don’t they all have contracts which allow them to move up to the bigs when offered?

  2. topshelfbk says:

    They missed out on Muller cos they’re goofs. He got hired as head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes a few weeks back.

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