Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Elliotte Friedman of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received: Never make important decisions in overly emotional moments. Right now, everyone in the Montreal organization should listen.
Take a step back, really think things through, and don’t make any major decisions in the immediate aftermath of the 100th anniversary letdown.
The Canadiens are at a crossroads, with a need for the most honest and extensive self-evaluation since Bob Gainey’s arrival. With the fans out for blood, it would be easy to offer up a series of public floggings/hangings to satisfy the mob. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.
That’s why it’s best that Gainey wants to stay. It was funny to hear the “Carbo! Carbo!” chants after the coach was fired, because many of the people yelling were probably the same ones phoning the radio shows and demanding his head in February. Those same people are angry at Gainey now, but would probably be yelling his name once the team lost three in a row under a new GM.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
Montreal Canadiens general-manager Bob Gainey has lashed out at Tampa Bay Lightning counterpart Bryan Lawton and the team’s ownership for “disgraceful” behaviour in leaking names they were interested in during trade talks for superstar centre Vincent Lecavalier.
Gainey said the wild speculation over Lecavalier, a Montreal native, was a significant distraction that helped derail his team in the second half of the season.
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Sixteen years, including the lockout year, have passed since the Canadiens won it all in 1993. Gainey had joined the organization as an executive vice-president and general manager in 2003. It was a year in which the Canadiens had failed to make the playoffs for the fifth time since they had won their 24th Cup in 1993 - with the promise of a five-year rebuilding plan.
At the time, he had said: “I can’t separate myself from my history. I was with some great teams in Montreal in the ‘70s and the ‘80s. Those of you with better memories will remember I was with some not so good teams in the ‘80s. But this is new. The city has changed since I left Montreal. The team has changed. I’ve changed. We’re gonna have to get to know each other again.
“We’re going to take the younger players and we’re going to improve them and we’re going to make them better. We’re going to push the players to do the things that need to be done to be a good team. It’s about tomorrow,” he said. “It’s not about the 1970s ... the 1980s or the 1950s!”
Gainey’s ‘tomorrow’ has come and gone. The dream is in tatters.
Kevin Mio of Habs Inside/Out writes,
What’s Next: A summer full of questions and searching for answers as to what went wrong during the centennial season. The Canadiens have a long list of unrestricted free agents and the 2009-10 edition of the team could look vastly different.
added 10:34pm, from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
If the Canadiens were going to win this series, their hopes had to rest on goaltending but Carey Price never looked like the second coming of Patrick Roy or Ken Dryden.
Check that. Price did do a fair imitation of Roy when he stopped a shot by Mark Recchi from just across centre ice with a little more than four minutes remaining in the second period. The sellout crowd greeted the stop with an ovation that dripped with sarcasm and Price responded by throwing his arms in the air.
When coach Bob Gainey was asked why he didn’t use Jaroslav Halak, who was limited to 20 minutes of perfect relief work in Game 2, he suggested that it wouldn’t have been fair to the Slovak because he hadn’t started a game in 7-10 days and that it wouldn’t have been fair to Price, who had carried the load coming into the playoffs.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
It’s almost time for the Canadiens to take out the trash, the wonderfully talented, splendidly coached Boston Bruins just one victory from dusting the Habs and ending their 100th season, also known as the world’s longest funeral.
When the Bruins knock off the Canadiens, a fairly safe assumption, Boston will have won eight series against their historic rival in 32 meetings since 1929. A sweep would be their third, the first over three games in ’29, the other over four in ’92.
Nothing has worked for the Canadiens against this Bruins squad, and there’s no reason to believe tonight’s fourth game will be any different.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette (Wednesday edition),
Montrealers like to think of themselves as fair, classy people but there’s nothing classy about the disgraceful conduct of the fans at the Bell Centre who booed the singing of the United States national anthem prior to Monday’s game between the Canadiens and the Boston Bruins.
It was impossible to hear Charles Prévost-Linton’s rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner because most of the sellout crowd of 21,273 drowned out his voice with boos or chants of Go Habs Go….
There is no excuse for the current booing. It is a simple matter of bad manners.
Bob Gainey, the Canadiens’ coach and general manager, addressed the issue yesterday when he said the boorish behaviour stemmed from confusion on the part of the fans.
from Damien Cox of The Spin at the Toronto Star,
Hard to believe it was just last fall that owner George Gillett and president Pierre Boivin arrived in Toronto for a press conference at the Royal York Hotel all full of bounce and optimism for the club as it entered its 100th anniversary season. Gillett certainly gave no hint his ownership of the storied franchise was in any sense in doubt, while Boivin seemed to suggest the Habs were beyond the point when they would be anything but successful on the ice.
“Today, if you recruit and operate well, are well-managed and well-coached, and have strong fan support, there’s no reason you can’t have a team that’s going to contend . . . forever,” said Boivin.
Those words sure sound a little haunting now, don’t they?
In fact, you could argue that the Florida Panthers, or even the bedraggled Maple Leafs, would have put up a better battle in the first round against Boston than the Habs have.
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
Somewhere, Guy Carbonneau must be having himself a chuckle.
Of all the playoff predictions made last week, not even a guy who thinks he was wrongly canned as coach of the Canadiens coach could have hoped for this.
What’s worse than a clean sweep?
Last night, the Habs were essentially eliminated by the Bruins in three.
“We think we can win a game,” Montreal winger Tom Kostopoulos said after a 4-2 dream-ending loss to the B’s. “We need to win one game. (Tomorrow) night. We think we can win one game, so that’s what we’ve got to concentrate on.”
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette (Tuesday edition),
The Canadiens’ 100th season will come to a stunning halt tomorrow night, the Habs cleanly swept from the postseason, if they don’t win the 100th playoff game of their illustrious history.
And who a year ago dared imagine the prospect of such an inglorious exit for a team one season removed from an Eastern Conference championship, one picked by many last fall to be a Stanley Cup contender?
added 11:46pm, from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
There is, of course, a statistical possibility the Canadiens can sweep the next four against the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference.
There also is a statistical possibility that you will win the Powerball.
Tough odds, in either case.
So while genuflecting to the patron saints of no-hopers, the 1942 Maple Leafs and the 1975 Islanders, the two NHL playoff teams to ever come back from the abyss, let’s fast-forward to the moment, whenever that might be, that Bruins and Canadiens players shake hands and Boston trudges forward into the second round and Montreal retreats to survey the wreckage of the 100th anniversary season.
from Elliotte Friedman of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
A regular game day for the coach of the Montreal Canadiens consists of two separate media availabilities. The first comes after the team skates, and is open to everyone. Gainey sits behind a table and answers questions in both English and French. Sometimes, it takes more than 20 minutes, with two languages, close to 50 reporters and plenty of interest.
According to another journalist, today’s lasted 3:09 - which has to be some kind of record. He wouldn’t reveal his starting goalie, wouldn’t talk about his lineup. He told everyone to “watch the warmup” - which comes 30 minutes before puck drop.
The second briefing is for rights holders only, about two hours before game time. It’s a longer process for the coach of the Canadiens than anyone else in the league. First, you do RDS, the French TV broadcaster. I’m not sure what happens behind that door, but there are about 400 people in the room with him.
Then, it’s back-to-back tapings with CKAC (French radio) and CJAD (English radio). After that, we usually get a couple of minutes to chat.
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