Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
Think of a shark in a Santa Claus outfit and you are probably closer to the real Mr. Gillett - because this is a team imploding from the top down, a team whose troubles are tied directly to an overextended owner and his reeling business empire.
There is nothing that can destabilize a team quite like like carrying nearly a dozen free agents, at least some of whom will definitely be playing elsewhere next year. Nothing tells your players you have given up like the failure to come up with significant help for the playoff run.
And nothing undercuts your team like having the news that the club is on the block break just as you are hanging onto a playoff spot by your fingernails.
Remember what Carbonneau said at his post-firing press conference? “It will all become clear with time.”
from ESPN Soccernet,
Gillett’s best-case scenario would include both the lucrative sale of the Canadiens and a debt restructuring agreement with Liverpool’s creditors. Failing that, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he combined portions of his interest in both clubs and packaged them off to investors. He has been mulling the idea for some time, telling reporters in December that such a strategy “might enable fans or interested parties in investing in one or more of our sports properties.”
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie could very well be one of the “parties” Gillett referred to. The co-CEO of Research in Motion revealed Gillett’s intention to sell the Canadiens in November 2008, telling Montreal daily La Presse that the 24-time Stanley Cup champions were on the block. Gillett vehemently denied the speculation, although Balsillie’s remarks were validated less than four months later.
If Gillett opts to hang on to the Canadiens and offers combined Liverpool-Montreal investment packages - what he calls “investment strips” - to new investors, he will no doubt damage his already battered reputation in the eyes of many Liverpool supporters who opposed the American takeover of the club in the first place.
more and thanks to a KK member for the pointer…
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
If George Gillett was a really smart guy, if he was the craftiest of wheeler-dealers, adept at getting into deals and getting out, at trading assets like hockey cards — and a seer — he would have put the Montreal Canadiens on the block a year ago.
Emotions were riding high, the team was first in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and obviously playoff bound. Its mix of veteran talent and an apparently endless supply of terrific young players from the farm seemed to bode well both for the Canadiens’ present and future.
From Dave Stubbs of CanWest News via the National Post:
“I didn’t hear that the team is being sold, have you?” [Canadiens’ GM Bob Gainey] said. “We’re in March, our budgets are set, our money is spent and we’re in a vacuum of administration. We’ve got hockey games to play. It’s about the competition.
“I don’t think this is going to bother the hockey (operations) staff. We’re going to do our work and the public can accept it as they wish,” he added, brushing off any suggestion that the team’s front-office stability has been upset.
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Can we agree the only news your Canadiens are getting these days is linked inexorably with bad news?
I mean, it’s bad enough they’re riding a five-game losing streak and in grave danger of missing the playoffs awaiting Tuesday’s game with the Atlanta Thrashers. Who would have imagined that scenario with only 10 games remaining in their schedule?
It doesn’t get worse than that – until Mondays startling report in La Presse that majority owner George N. Gillett Jr. has retained a number of financial advisors to determine the value of his sports and business holdings, which could be the first step in selling, refinancing or taking on partners in his properties.
The move could not have come at a worse time for this desperately struggling team. It’s nothing less than a dagger in the heart of the organization, the players and their fans.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
What is scary is that Gainey, who added coach to his resume earlier this month, has spent every bullet to try to right a sinking Habs ship this March.
The GM is down to promoting Sergei Kostitsyn from the minor leagues, and then the coach moves him directly to a prime spot on the second line at Monday’s practice.
Gainey has fired Guy Carbonneau, changed assistant coaches, held Alexei Kovalev home from a road trip, gone back to the struggling Carey Price in goal and then replaced him with his former backup on Hockey Night in Canada, no less.
Gainey is playing the piano as fast as he can. The song emanating from Montreal this season is, however, neither quick nor innovative. It sounds more like the last waltz for a town that is already talking about next year - despite the fact the Habs were still in a playoff spot prior to Monday’s games.
from Dave Stubbs of Habs Inside/Out,
Réjean Tremblay of La Presse reports this morning, confirmed by Canadiens president Pierre Boivin, that Habs majority owner George Gillett Jr. has engaged a number of financial firms, including North America’s BMO Capital Markets, to study all of his global holdings.
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
This is not a slump, folks. Not a bad stretch. It’s a collapse, pure and simple. A team-wide, catastrophic reversal of play over a stretch which encompasses more than a third of the season and which cannot be explained away by the loss of Robert Lang on Feb. 1….
But the really critical problem is with Carey Price. Price is flopping around like a seal that is a couple of flippers short of making the circus. Price was weak on the second and fourth goals against Ottawa Thursday, but his reaction on the second goal the Rangers scored Tuesday was downright frightening.
He threw both hands to his head, covering up like a guy who has just learned that he’s under a falling piano.
Like all sports, hockey is a game of confidence, and Price’s confidence is somewhere down around his ankles.
We didn’t play the way we wanted. This team wants to be in the playoffs, but it’s not going to come from anyone else. We have to work together and get some points. It doesn’t matter if we score ugly goals. It’s getting late and we have to find a way to win.”
-Maxim Lapierre of the Montreal Canadiens after their loss to the Leafs tonight. More from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
Bob Gainey insisted that he hasn’t made any final decisions on the Canadiens’ lineup for Saturday night’s game against the Maple Leafs, but it appears defenceman Mike Komisarek and forward Andrei Kostitsyn will be among the healthy scratches.
“Sometimes you send a message,” Gainey said when asked about the status of the two veterans who appeared to be extras at a late-afternoon practice in Brossard. “You see how they practise and how they respond to that. We have all our players available to us and we’ll decide tomorrow.”...
Komisarek had a plus-1 rating Thursday, but saw his ice time reduced as the game went on. He played 16:30 at even-strength while his partner, Andrei Markov, played 21:34 at even-strength and a total of 26:53.
Komisarek, who is known as a physical defenceman, had only one hit and no blocked shots.
“He’s hesitating,” Gainey said. “He has to be the first guy on the puck and he isn’t.”
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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