The would-be chemist speaks!



    I really had no intention of writing a follow-up to my article on Carbonneau’s most recent ‘chemistry experiments’ with his line-up. But then today, he spoke. And unfortunately, Dr. Guy won’t be up for a Nobel Prize in Science any time soon. He’s not even Bill Nye…perhaps the ‘Nutty Professor’?

    It seems that Habster and I have agreed to use the word “decent” when evaluating Carbonneau’s performance so far this season. To his credit, Carbo has changed his approach with his Russian players, he has pushed some of the right buttons and seems to work well with a talented group of assistant coaches. Carbo benefits from having a superb GM in Gainey who has not only guided Guy but has taken some of the tough roster decisions out of his hands. Carbonneau has been very fortunate that he hasn’t had to make difficult decisions due to significant player injuries. As mentioned in my other article, while Carbonneau gives a free pass to some undeserving players (Latendresse, Brisebois), he is merciless on others (Higgins, Ryder).

    Lastly, Carbonneau’s handling of his goaltenders has been awful. In fact, it would be hard for him to have done worse. He also receives a failing grade for his media conferences.

    Carey Price is the #1 goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens. Let’s just acknowledge that right up front. Gainey knows it and has made all the right moves for the past year to make it possible. Price has special talent, a resume of significant accomplishments, and the right attitude to succeed now and in the future.

    That is not to say that Price is indestructible. A good portion of the business of goaltending is confidence. We saw how a coach’s actions can quickly erode that confidence in January. Carbonneau’s decisions were a textbook case on how NOT to handle goaltenders.

    Even after training camp, Gainey had to override Carbo when he wanted to send Price to Hamilton to start the year. But then Carbo pouted and didn’t start Price is a reasonable a number of games. As Pierre McGuire said recently: “if Habs (Carbonneau) had made it a fair fight, he (Price) would be the rookie of the year. No question!” Gainey had to intervene again at the trade deadline sending the team’s #3 goalie (in terms of talent) to the Washington Capitals.

    Today Carbonneau announced that Jaroslav Halak will start on Tuesday night. Carbo said “He (Halak) deserved to play again. He played a really good game.”

    I have no problem with Halak getting another start but I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. Halak played well when he had to on Saturday night and made one terrific save. However, this was a game against the Islanders who are at the bottom of the league in goals for, and even at that, were playing with an AHL line-up due to injuries. It was a solid performance but Halak was not even the best goalie on the ice that night.

    Carbonneau added “I thought that he was solid. He deserves to be in the net again.” Halak will now face the St. Louis Blues who are 28th; the 3rd worst team in the NHL.

    So given a chance to defuse a goalie controversy, how did Carbonneau respond? Guy said “We’re still looking for a #1…” Huh? Will someone please send this Guy the memo. Carbo continued “good players will find ways to rise to the top”. “Hopefully Carey can do the same thing”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

    One of the more bizarre parts of Carbonneau’s news conference was he exclaimed “I thought that Cristobal was AWESOME!” Last week, when Carbo used the name Cristobal, he was referring to Higgins (a Freudian slip I suppose) but today he was speaking about Cris Huet’s attitude. Guy continued “He never knocked on my door saying that he wanted to play every game.” I believe that is true but only because Huet did start most every game. I am recalling McGuire’s words. Yes, if only it had been a fair fight.

    Back to the current goalie ‘controversy’ (my tongue firmly planted in cheek). Due to the negligence of the coach during his news conference it was left the the goaltenders themselves to nip that in the bud. Both Carey and Jaroslav said that they are friends, support each other and will work together for the betterment of the team. Halak acknowledged that he is the #2 goalie although pledged to “fight for that top spot”. Seems that these two (at their young ages) will get along and know their roles without any help from the coach.

    Guy Carbonneau will get some consideration for the Jack Adams trophy but not necessarily because it is deserved. He has benefited from a strong coaching and management team and a combination of some good decision-making and some good fortune. Carbo still has much to learn about dealing with the media and in handling the goaltender position. I hope that his continued experimentation so close to the playoffs doesn’t spoil what has been a surprising and successful season so far.


    1. Rocket,

      Overall, Carbonneau has done a decent job coaching the Canadiens but I have to agree with you about the way he handles the goaltenders…..chaotic at times if you ask me!!
      Carbo hasn’t had to deal with many injuries (as I tap my head!) thus far this season and is getting career years out of his talented young players.
      Everything is falling in place for the team and Mr. Carbonneau which bodes well for the team’s playoff run and in turn, its fans.

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