by PuckStopsHere on 03/08/12 at 03:39 PM ET
The Montreal Canadiens have a storied history. They have won the Stanley Cup more times than any other NHL team. Even in their poor years when they miss playoffs they never finish at the bottom of their conference. The last time they finished in last place in the NHL was 1940. That is 72 years ago. They have an impressive record of winning and of not being the worst team in the league in their poor years.
This season is a black eye on that record. The Montreal Canadiens are in last place in the East Conference right now. The only team in the league with fewer wins is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Things have fallen apart.
The most significant way things have fallen apart is off the ice. The uproar over the hiring of English speaking coach Randy Cunneyworth has led to the undermining of both coach and the GM Pierre Gauthier.
It is clear to everyone that neither the coach nor the GM will be back next season. We are merely running out the clock until they get replaced this summer. That kind of environment doesn’t motivate anyone to play. It leads to a lost season.
An underlying problem in Montreal is a lack of good players. They don’t have any big scorers. Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais lead the team in scoring with 51 points. 46 players on other teams have more points. PK Subban is their leading defenceman. He has some offensive potential but is yet to become an NHL star. Solid stay-at-home defenceman Josh Gorges is second in playing time. Though he is a solid depth player, he isn’t a difference maker who can help a team succeed while playing first line minutes. Carey Price is a strong goalie but he is not having as good a season as he did last year. There is nobody on the Habs playing at an all star level and that is why they are struggling.
Perhaps solid coaching and management can make something out of a team without any all star talent, but Montreal has not had that. They have controversy at coach and at GM. Coupling a lack of talent with a lack of off-ice direction, you get a bad team. That is where Montreal is today. For the first time in franchise history, I think they will finish last in their division in 2011/12.
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