by PuckStopsHere on 03/10/09 at 03:42 AM ET
When you fire a coach it is common to see the team improve in the standings. A new coach changes the system. Players will have to play well to keep their icetime and their role on the team. In the short-term it often leads to a boost for the team that fired their coach. That is what the Montreal Canadiens are looking for from their firing of Guy Carbonneau.
With sixteen games left in the regular season. Montreal has 77 points. Although that is good for fifth in the East Conference, it is only one point up from the New York Rangers who would miss the playoffs with the current standings. A short-term run from a coach firing would likely ensure the Habs playoff berth.
The timing of the firing is a little surprising. Montreal seems to have emerged from their slump. They have a 5-2 record in their last seven games. That follows a stretch where they went 3-12. Perhaps that would have been the more logical time for a firing.
I think it is clear that Bob Gainey did not want to fire Carbonneau. He tried to make Alexei Kovalev the scapegoat to end the slump. Arguably that had worked; Kovalev’s return coincided with the Habs 5-2 run. The problem was upper management was still concerned. There was a lot of pressure on Bob Gainey to do something to ensure the Habs made the playoffs. He decided to use the only weapon he had left in his arsenal after the trade deadline passed. He fired the coach.
Gainey will take over as the Habs coach. He has 456 career games coached, although most are well over a decade ago.
Most likely Montreal will make the playoffs. Most likely a short—term push from a coaching change will help, but not be necessary, in the pursuit of that goal. This move shows just how little value is placed on coaching and the coach of the year nominations. Guy Carbonneau was a nominee for the Adams Trophy last season.
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