Gauthier fired – the Habs spring has sprung!

Posted: March 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I feel like breaking into song. I know, I know, it’s a frightening thought.

Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah, hey hey, good-bye!

Pierre ‘Major Major’ Gauthier has officially been tossed on to the trash heap of history by the Canadiens owner and president Geoff ‘My New Hero’ Molson. And not a moment too soon, I might add. Better yet, Molson also made it clear Thursday morning that I need a new nickname for Bob ‘Elvis Has Not Left the Building’ Gainey. That’s right – Bob ‘I’m Always the Last Guy at the Party’ Gainey is in fact leaving the building.

This is – in case you can’t figure it out on your own – great news. The only downside is I will now have to think harder before penning my Top Shelf blogs because I will at last have to retire the ‘Gauthier-must-be-fired’ template. Oh well, life becomes tougher for me as a blogger but I am infinitely more happy as a Habs fan.

The firm of G&G have decimated one of the greatest franchises in professional sports. I got into a bit of a tiff on Twitter Thursday morning when I described the nine years of the Gainey & Gauthier reign of error as a “disastrous” era. Folks pointed out that the team once finished first in the Eastern Conference – a bit of a fluke – and made it to the conference final in 2010 – that entirely due to one man, Jaroslav Halak, a fellow that G&G had actively and openly tried to run out of town earlier in the season.

Fact is G&G’s Habs never won nothing. Worse, their management motto was ‘let’s try not to lose too badly.’ I’m not the world’s biggest Mike Cammalleri fan but man did he nail it when he let it all hang out that day just before he got shipped off – between periods! – to the Flames. Montreal does have a “losing” culture or, if you prefer, a “loser’s” culture. That’s the way it’s been ever since Gainey took-over.

The mantra has been – ‘struggle to make 8th place, so we can keep the fans and media off our backs for another year.’ No one ever talked about winning the Cup. That’s a pathetic excuse for a team philosophy if you’re the New York Islanders. If you’re the Montreal Effin Canadiens, it’s beyond pathetic. It’s a slap in the face to the team’s fans.

But what I heard Thursday morning was something else altogether. Molson, the new kid on the Habs block, talking about winning. Now some are already saying those are empty words but at least he’s saying the right words, something I haven’t much heard since 1993.

“Ownership will accept nothing less than a winning culture in this organization,” said Molson.

Them’s fighting words. And it gets better. Listen to how he describes the Habs culture in recent years.

“The Montreal Canadiens is a storied franchise, often cited as one of the greatest sports organizations in the world. Our 24 Stanley Cups are a testament to this. However the traits that are common to all successful organizations have been lacking in recent years. When one looks to the great organizations of the past or the ones that are performing particularly well currently, the root of their success lies in their consistency and stability.”

With stable owners in place, Molson goes on to suggest the time has come to bring the same stability to the on-ice product.

“It is my responsibility to identify solutions and rebuild the winning culture that this franchise’s fans, its history and its tradition demand.”

Molson wants the Cup. It might be ego on this part. Maybe he wants to go down in history as the guy who brought the Holy Grail back to its rightful home in Montreal. Who cares why he’s doing it. What matters is that he wants to win. And he says he’ll do whatever takes to do it.

Of course, the Habs aren’t out of the woods now by any stretch of the imagination. It’s going to take some time to recover from the G&G mistakes – mistakes named Scott ‘Yikes’ Gomez, Tomas ‘Soft As Cadbury’ Kaberle, Rene ‘Complete Bust’ Bourque. There’s also no getting back the players lost in goofball deals and/or via sheer negligence, like Ryan McDonagh, Mike Ribeiro, Mikhail Grabovski, Mark Streit.

But at least management is finally admitting they messed up badly. That’s the key first step. It’s like the alcoholic admitting he has a problem. You can’t start the cure until you admit you’re sick.

But the worst thing we can do is give Molson a free ride. The culture of the organization has to change. The contempt Gainey and Gauthier showed for both the fans and the media has to end. Management has to be out there answering questions.

Like Molson did Thursday. That press conference was the polar opposite of the botched media event introducing Randy ‘Parlez-Vous’ Cunneyworth – a press conference where all concerned forgot they were holding the event in a mostly French-speaking city and seemed surprised by every question that came their way. Molson spoke at length in the language of Beliveau and handled every media query without missing a beat.

It was light years from the G&G style – Gainey and Gauthier always acted like they couldn’t believe these peasants (aka journalists) had somehow snuck into the castle to pester them with childish inquiries.

So today there is much room for optimism. Now let’s see if Molson – with help from his new adviser, Serge Savard – takes advantage of this great opportunity. I for one am jumping back on the bandwagon. You should too.


  1. Rick Keene says:

    Bye bye – It is sad that all of this would never have happened if Corey had not fired Savard …

    • Phil Ouimet says:

      Your spot on Corey is our Benedict Arnold he destroyed a well oiled hockey management machine… you don’t let go of guys like Savard,Demers and pro scout André Boudrias because there is one hell of a price to pay….and we have been paying for twenty years now

  2. Chris Bellman says:

    Goatier had to go and so did Gainey. G&G’s gaffes are many and memorable.

    Now on to the selection process of a new GM and coach. Good luck to Savard. He will need it to clean up the unholy mess that is the CH right now.

  3. Paul Wong says:

    Whoever the new GM is I hope he signs up long term Mad Max, PK , Eller and Price. I am predicting a cup victory in four years.I am so optimistic with the G&G era ending.
    on a side note it is sad how Gainey has changed over the years. He has become more reclusive and guarded in his comments, It is a shame people will prob remember these last years of Gainey in Habs management instead the incredible leader who played with 2 broken shoulders winning the Stanley Cup

    • topshelfbk says:

      I agree with you Paul that it is tremendously sad how Bob Gainey’s career ended. The guy who was once famously called the greatest hockey player in the world became the guy who will go down as the GM (and silent consultant) who maybe did the most damage to the Habs since World War II. It’s not just sad. It’s tragic.

  4. Rick Keene says:

    You guys are way off base here . Gainey made one bad move and that was Gomez. He brought a team that missed the playoffs three of four years and made them respectable and contenders. It was not his fault the team imploded – players such as Higgins, Komasarek , o Byrne and Price screwing around off the ice . He then brought quality players here in turn , with exception of Gionta and Gill … Everyone did not play to their potential … It is the mind – set of the team as ‘ the greatest ‘ that killed them . Pomp and ceremony before hockey decisions … Whatever has gone on since Gainey gave control to Gauthier is something we do not know so we cannot judge . Gauthier may have not listened to Gainey for all we know …. Gauthier not re signing Hamrlik and Auld was the beginning of the end . He had a great goalie tandem and a veteran d man who did not panic. He also should have signed the Wiz … Markov was wonky , he knew it and brought in Kaberle. For a little more money , the Wiz was worth it because he was comfortable here and young. Spacek should also not have been traded – young d men require veteran presence and Gill was not enough.

    • Phil Ouimet says:

      Can’t agree with you on this one. As much as I loved Gainey as a hockey player in my humble opinion he was the boss of our team since 2003 ( year of the lockout) and he was responsible for the horrible performances of HIS scouting departement and Gauthier was the weakest link in the CH front office…as for the facts well…start with Ninimaa for Ribiero then move on to Laraque, Tanguay,Gomez and the big one KOSTITSYN over Parise,Getzlaf,Brown,Seabrook,Carter,Kessler,Richards and Cory Perry. and in 2006 selecting David Fisher (who never played in the NHL) over Claude Giroux ( 3 highest scorer in the NHL this year), Decisions like that cannot and will not give us our 25th Cup.

  5. Phil Ouimet says:

    Just read the above article and signed up to comment!!!! I respect the initiators opinion BUT like many fans I’m fed up!!!! I want my team to be winners not loosers. I think Guy Lafleur and Don Cherry resumed it pretty well by stating it was time to get rid of the Good Old Boys!!!! Just hope Geoff Molson expands the Senator’s mandate and the CH will defenitely return to it’s original makeup 50% Anglo and 50% Franco… and then and only then Montreal Fans will identify themselves with their Sainte flanelle and begin to aspire to the overdue 25th Cup

  6. Rick Keene says:

    I agree with the last comment Phil. Gainey did do some weird things in retro, yet …, if you look around the league, every organization fails with picks and scouting. In Montreal – it is magnified two- fold. We are used to an environment, the hockey landscape has changed- we must get used to that as well. In the old days, for example, would the Habs ( or any team) have to worry if the number one or two pick might flee to the KHL? To put it into perspective – Detroit has won two Cups in thirteen years as being the most successful team in the NHL …

  7. Phil Ouimet says:

    Your absolutely right regarding the Red Wings and it’s understandable They are extremely well stuctured and very efficient. Their management is probably the most stable in the league something the CH have to immitate in the future. The landscape has changed…. our National sport is now in the hand of our USA neighbors and they call the shots….but that’s another issue. The CH is the oldest and most prestigeous team in the league ….and last place just doesn’t cut it. As a fan I just hope Mr Molson expands the Senator’s mandate ….let’s face big Serge has a proven track record,has a good head for buisiness,( don’t forget he was prepared to purchase the team) he is mild mannered,a good negotiator and a good communicator, extremely hard to manipulate and he is an excellent team player, he commands respect and is respected thruout the league even though he has been away for more than a decade. Let’s face it Savard does not pussyfoot around but most important ( he walks his talk) ….in short HE TAKES RESPONSABILITY !!!! which in my humble opinion has seriously been lacking for sometime upstairs on management row in the Bell Center.Like Red Fisher I see Serge Savard as executive VP hockey with the GM and coaching staff reporting directly to him…then and only then the Canadien will retreive their former luster.
    PS: next time I write back to you I promise to be less passionate!!!!

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