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The Puck Stops Here

Habs Poor Season

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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Comments

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1) I don’t think its the team roster thats the biggest issue in Mtl(they did prety well with a similar roster last season)  its the coaching/front office.  The players don’t feel accountable and therefore once things got tough they simply stopped playing knowing that the (new) coach wouldn’t be there long. Much like the disrespect a substitute teacher gets
2) I don’t think they need to blow up the roster. They have some decent players to build around. A good foundatin that with a good GM(not the current occupent) and solid respected(feared) coach, this team will be right back in the mix next season!

Posted by fauxrumors on 03/08/12 at 04:10 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Though I think the previous commenter (fauxrumors) makes some good points, I have to disagree. PSH has put his finger on something a lot of folks in Montreal are overlooking - that despite the very real organizational uncertainty, the Habs have lineup problems as well.

Yes, similar teams have had decent results in the past few seasons - but that may be a matter of previous versions of the Habs overachieving (largely on the back of better than average goaltending) as much as the current version not living up to expectations. Even this season, I think it’s fair to say things would look even worse if it weren’t for Carey Price.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 03/08/12 at 04:37 PM ET

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Montreal had good special teams for so long. Was that all Kirk Muller?

Posted by Ralph on 03/09/12 at 05:26 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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