Habs Solution Might Sit in Avalanche Path

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Written by Habsterix, AllHabs.net

The 2011-2012 season has been a weird one to say the least. Controversial contract signatures, injuries to key players, underperforming team, disgruntled players and coaches, firing of assistant and head coach, language controversy, trade in mid-game, fights amongst teammates and coaches, rumours of a GM not making the decisions and former top scorer having been asked (or not) to wave his no-trade clause are just a few oddities which helped side track this once proud franchise. Heck, they couldn’t even be true sellers at the deadline, hanging on to injured Mathieu Darche and Travis Moen, while being unable to find a taker for Chris Campoli!

PENTICTON, BC. — With the team sitting dead last in the Eastern Conference and 27th overall in the NHL at the time of writing this article, no one in their right mind would disagree that the Canadiens are in dire need of change and that, at just about every level possible. It was announced that Randy Cunneyworth was appointed head coach on an interim basis and with the uproar from some fans and media wanting a bilingual coach, it is safe to say that there will be some new blood behind the bench at the end of the season.

With everything that has happened this season, from the way the team performed on the ice to the missed opportunities at the deadline in spite of being one of the only true sellers, one would think that it’s only a matter of time before the team announces a new General Manager. Not often have we witnessed so many classless moves by an organisation once known for its high standards of class and respect. I’ve been a fan for 4 decades and never have I seen that much lack of direction, not even in 1995 when Réjean Houle and Mario Tremblay took over.

Team owner and President Geoff Molson must stop the bleeding and the sooner he does that, the better. Put someone in position on an interim basis, whether it’s good friend Serge Savard or even Bob Gainey, but do it now. This ship needs a firm hand to get the fans believing that it’s not on course for the iceberg, that it will not suffer the same fate as the Titanic. This will allow finding a suitable and permanent replacement this spring.

I was listening to Jacques Demers saying that this organisation needs stability in order to regain its pride. He was talking about the fact that it’s a privilege to wear this uniform, to manage or coach it. Demers pointed out that Michel Therrien, in his opinion, was doing a great job but was fired. He said that Guy Carbonneau, less than a year after a 104 points season, was suddenly “not good enough”. And I found myself agreeing with him. This team needs to find the right candidates and stick with them for more than two years.

Several names have been discussed and I won’t go over the list, as most if not all come with positive and negative baggage. The one name that I would see above any others though is a man with tons of experience, someone who is still involved in the NHL and someone who has the respect of everyone in hockey: Pierre Lacroix.  And guess what, he’s bilingual!

The 63-year-old Lacroix was the General Manager of the Quebec Nordiques and of the Colorado Avalanche from 1994 to 2006 and he is now the President of the Avalanche. He is the GM who brought Patrick Roy (ouch), Ray Bourque and Rob Blake to Colorado. He’s not afraid to pull the trigger when he sees value. Would he consider becoming the GM in Montreal? There is no way for us to know the answer to that question unless the Habs ask the Avalanche permission to talk to him. Would he consider coming back to Quebec, closer to his family, raising up to the challenge of bringing back on its feet the most storied franchise in pro-hockey? Something tells me that it’s something that he’d consider.

I can’t help but think of a possible combination of experience and youth, from the top down. A young owner in Geoff Molson, an experienced quality GM in Pierre Lacroix, with possibly a young head coach in Patrick Roy and perhaps even a couple of experienced assistant coaches helping him out, one being Bob Hartley… It would not only take the boredom away, but would bring a much needed mixture of character and competence into this once proud franchise.

En français: Le CHemin de Lacroix avec St-Patrick

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I do not want to see Patrick Roy anywhere near the coaching position, no matter who the assistants are. He’s too wild, too unpredictable, and too inexperienced. I don’t think he’s proven anything at the junior level. If he wants to be an assistant coach in the NHL or a head coach in the AHL, fine, but let’s get someone with at least a little bit of experience.

  2. Montreal has lost 18 games this season by one goal (including shootouts). We expected Gionta to be able to score ~25 goals for us; he’s scored 8. That’s 17 goals we’re missing from our lineup this season. If he was in the lineup and scored one goal in just half of those close games, we could be fighting for a playoff spot right now. We expected Markov to be in the line up this year and helping produce by scoring ~40 points. How many of those points would have helped secure us some wins?

    We expected Cammalleri to score 25 goals for us this season; he scored 9. If he could have put up some goals for us when he played in a couple of those close games, we’re in 8th place. We expected Kostitsyn to put up 20 goals this season; he scored 12. If he would have scored a few more goals, we could be sitting comfortably in a playoff spot.

    How many games has Moen, Blunden, and White missed this year? You think if we could have had them in the lineup we would have been more sound defensively and prevent some of our defensive collapses?

    What about all the young players in our lineup this season? Pacioretty, DD, Weber, Emelin, Diaz, Eller and Subban are all in their first or second full season in the NHL. You think they may have been somewhat of a liability defensively? How many times has their inexperience resulted in a goal, or a blown lead? How many games did we lose because of this?

    This is why I think all the endless hate towards PG is unwarranted. How was he supposed to predict that we would be plagued with injuries, and it would have such a negative effect on the team? What was he supposed to do when reliable scorers didn’t show up to play this year? How was he supposed to predict that a once unstoppable powerplay was going to suddenly dry up? How can he be blamed for the growing pains of young players?

    I know everyone likes to blame him for this season, but I think at the end of the day most of the blame lies with:
    -underachieving star players
    -No powerplay
    -Developing youth
    -And most importantly, injuries (2nd most in the league)

    It was a shitstorm of a season, but it was caused by a multitude of factors. I doubt anyone will read this because nobody likes to read the posts defending PG. I’m not saying he’s the best GM in the league. I wish we could move Gomez, I wish Kaberle was better defensively, I wish Bourque was more consistent, but I do think most trades he’s made this year (Noke, Kabs, Bourque, Gill, Kos) had the right intent, and we got as much as we probably could for what we gave up.

    As for being classless, we don’t know all the circumstances around the three big issues: Pearn firing, Martin firing, and Cammy trade. As for the firings we don’t know why they were done on gamedays (I don’t understand why it matters what day they get fired), but the Pearn firing may have had to do with the fact that they were on the road two days before he got fired and PG had to run it by Molson and they made sure it was the best possible solution before they made their final decision.

    As for the Cammy trade, it was reported that PG was going to healthy scratch Cammy that night, but by the time he found out the trade was definitely going through, the lineup was already in. He figured he would just let him play and then trade him after the game. However, Feaster called and said he wanted to start the trade call and in order to do that, Cammy couldn’t be on the ice. He politely and discreetly pulled Cammy after the second and told him the news. Again, I don’t see how when someone is traded can be such a big issue. Really, who cares? Cammy didn’t, the players didn’t, why should the over-emotional fans care?

    • I do agree, to some extent, that PG hasn’t been absolutely terrible and the entire reason for the loss of this season.

      But…
      -he should have known more and been more prepared for the possibility of Markov being out longer. Signing him to a 3 year deal, and then he doesn’t play for at least 60 games of the first year? Eventually Campoli was signed, and then got injured, so that’s fine…but clearly Campoli hasn’t been good enough to come close to replacing Markov.
      -he shouldn’t have traded for Kaberle. I know the PP was shit, but there was enough evidence that Kaberle wasn’t worth 4.25mil for 3 years. Now we’re on the hook for him for 2 more years…it’s wasted space. If they needed a PP dman they should have either paid more to get a better and cheaper one, or tried to get a not-great one that was cheaper.
      -the Cammalleri-Bourque deal was fine, but how did it take 60 games to figure out that they needed a tough guy like Staubitz? Finally they have Bourque, White and Staubitz, plus Moen if he comes back.
      -The Defense is still far too soft though. Subban, Gorges and Emelin are fine, but Kaberle, Campoli, Diaz, and Weber are soft. Markov isn’t exactly hard nosed either, so when he comes back it won’t help that category. Tinordi is still a few years away, for example. I’d rather have Hamrlik and Spacek back over Kaberle, Campoli and Weber. Diaz has been okay, but I think the season has been too long and hard on him.

      And that’s just a couple issues with the players. How about the language thing with Cunneyworth being hired? That was a complete mess.

      Simply put, Gauthier has done some good and some bad. Signing Cole, trading for Eller, those have been good. But his mistakes have been too dumb to ignore, and his time is pretty much up.

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