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The Upper Canadien

How to fix the Habs? Oh, and there’s a game today

The Habs play the Jets today in a game that means a lot more to the Jets. However, if the Habs lose, that’s four in a row and I have to believe a house cleaning may come tomorrow. We shall see.

As for the state of the Canadiens, I’ve had a few “what would you do” emails. So, quite simply: I wouldn’t “tank,” as a) the Canadiens can’t finish last, and b) a true rebuild won’t work in Montreal. People will stop going to the games. It’s been proven before, and it would happen a game. No, I’d edge much more towards the Philadelphia Flyers model, which is try to retool. The Canadiens problem isn’t drafting - I believe there are more Habs picks playing in the NHL in the past decade than any other team’s. The problem? Most of them are playing, and thriving, with other organizations. No, the problem is management. Gauthier, Gainey, etc. The Habs need a clean start.

Step One: New management
I have heard many call for Julien Brisebois as GM. Why? The guy is a lawyer. He’s also got ties to the current Habs regime. There are dozens of other candidates. There’s one that I’d target.

If I make the decision, I’m bringing in Pierre McGuire. This guy knows talent like nobody’s business. I’d assemble a management team somewhat like Toronto’s. McGuire as GM, Trevor Timmins as chief scout (he knows how to draft), super-scout Blair Mackasey as an assistant GM. Ken Dryden, if he’s willing, as a senior advisor. Serge Savard as an advisor.

Step Two: New coaching staff
Now we’ve got a talented, deep, dedicated management team. Let them pick their own coach. No interference from ownership. Clean slate. My preference? Someone with experience, a veteran who is committed and focused. Larry Robinson, perhaps?

Step Three: Players
As I said, I don’t believe a true rebuild will work. Not helping is the fact that this year’s draft is apparently very weak. So what do I do? I target a few different pieces.

1) Top line centre: The Canadiens have lacked a true first line centre since the early 1990’s. Jeff Carter is available. His contract is obviously long on years, but the salary is very reasonable. In the words of Sly Stallone, Get Carter. Should that not be a possibility, I don’t want Derrick Brassard, or Antoine Vermette, or Daymond Langkow. The Habs need a top centre. Ryan Getzlaf, perhaps? See what’s out there. But do what Gainey/Gauthier could not, and acquire this player. Immediately.

2) Acquire assets for soon-to-be UFA’s: The Canadiens biggest mistake in the past decade may be losing assets for nothing. Souray. Streit. Koivu. The list goes on and on. Trade Hal Gill, Travis Moen, Andrei Kostitsyn, etc. for picks or, preferably, young players. Build the depth of this team back up. I like Moen, and if he’s available, re-sign him in the summer.

3) Use depth to your advantage: The Canadiens are deep on D. We already discussed Gill. Now deal depth defencemen like Chris Campoli and Raphael Diaz for picks or younger players. If the Habs have good offers, maybe deal Brian Gionta. He’s only getting older.

4) Presuming Markov never plays again, go after a top veteran defenceman in the summer time. Someone to help mentor Subban, but with more talent than a Gill. Subban, Price and Pacioretty are the three keys to the future. They all need help growing. Pacioretty has Cole, Price has, hopefully, an ear from management, so let’s get Subban some real support.

5) Buy out Scott Gomez.

And that’s it, basically. A top-tier centre with the wingers the Canadiens currently have will provide much, much more offensive support. The defence, with another top-D, will be much more solid. And the core up front is talented and mature, but will have an average age under 30.

Nothing fancy, but this will make the team competitive again, and give the Habs a real chance to win. Montreal needs a franchise it can have pride it. As Mordecai Richler said, the Canadiens are a “spiritual necessity in Quebec.” So let’s get to fixing things.

Your move, Mr. Molson.

Filed in: | The Upper Canadien | Permalink


Evilpens's avatar

REALLY??????????? If Regis knows talent like “Nobodies Business” why is he still not hired as a GM, asst. GM or a scout ? Drop a little knowledge on you, Because the Media are in love with His knowledge But hockey people aren’t

Now with that out of the way as a Pens fan I hope like hell they do hire him because
that would just quicken the death spiral they are in already

Posted by Evilpens on 02/05/12 at 02:39 PM ET


Evilpens: As is on the record, he is not an asst GM because he has turned down multiple opportunities to stay close to his family and maintain the salary he is currently paid by NBC/TSN. In fact, one of these asst GM jobs was with your team. I give the guy credit for putting family ahead of work. That said, for the right opportunity, I think he’d make the jump.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 02/05/12 at 03:17 PM ET


I hope some desperate intoxicated team hires McGuire or Milbury as their GM so we can laugh at their teams go down in flames plus it would get both of them away from TV and we don’t have to hear Pierre talk about Sid all the time, and Milbury is just ignorant….

Posted by Jim from Nashville on 02/05/12 at 05:44 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Regis was with the Pens 20 years ago ! NOT relevant to today

Posted by Evilpens on 02/05/12 at 05:45 PM ET


Regis is Scotty Bowmans nephew.  The Canadiens need a real GM.  Does Neil Smith speak French?

Posted by 13 user names on 02/05/12 at 05:54 PM ET

DocF's avatar

Oh God, yes!  Please make the que-ball your GM.  Get him off television so I do not have to listen to his idiotic blabber.

That being said, The team has a coach that is capable right now.  Big hairy deal, he does not speak Canadian French.  Big hairy deal, the question should be can he coach and the answer is he is a good, not great, coach who replaced an utter incompetent who could speak Canadian French.

Yes, the team needs a center or two.  They have some assets that will get away from them unless they make some deadline deals.  Travis Moen is worth something, but not a whole lot, perhaps a number two draft choice.  The rest, well Hal Gill is currently their best defenseman and he resembles a traffic cone in his mobility. 


Posted by DocF from Now: Lynn Haven, FL; was Reidsville, NC on 02/05/12 at 06:34 PM ET


Evilpens: He was offered a job within the last five years, by the Pens, on at least one occasion, if not more.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 02/05/12 at 08:59 PM ET


Tanking will absolutely work in Montreal. We’re doing it now.

All we need is to tank for two years… One for our version of Patrick Kane and one for our version of Jonathan Toews.

For Pete’s sake. The last dominant player to grace our ice other than St Pat was The Flower…

If ever there was a perfect opportunity to go hard for the basement, this is the time. I would go for it with reckless abandon and ship Gill, Moen, AK (if he can’t be resigned), etc… We badly need to do this and now is the time.

And I wouldn’t just buy out Gomer, I’d do the same for Kaberle.

Tank, tank, tank!

Posted by Marc10 on 02/05/12 at 09:16 PM ET

Steve Strowbridge's avatar

Regis was with the Pens 20 years ago ! NOT relevant to today

Evilpens: He was offered a job within the last five years, by the Pens, on at least one occasion, if not more.

A quick google search turned up that it was around 2006 when he was offered a job by the Penguins.

So, it is definitely still not relevant to today at all.

That said, Upper Canadien, if he didn’t want to leave broadcasting to be on a team that had Sid, Malkin, Fleury, etc. (and a team he has a history with), why would he want to join the Habs?

Posted by Steve Strowbridge from St. John's, NL, CA on 02/06/12 at 01:37 PM ET


Good lord trade Diaz for young players?! He’s 26.

Also Jeff Carter is not the answer to anyone’s top line C problems and that is pretty obvious. He’s an injury prone C that has been overrated since his anomalous season in 08-09. Pleks averages the same amount of pts and is a great two-way C. They need a legit number 1, but you draft those or you pay too much.

Posted by Doug on 02/06/12 at 04:42 PM ET


Steve Strowbridge: He is on the record as saying a major reason he turned the job down was family. He’s from Montreal, kids were raised there, and while they’ve moved to NYC this year, there is every reason to believe they’d go back to Montreal if the work was there.

Doug: Exactly. Diaz is 26, and making the mistakes of a 21 year old. He’s got some talent, and thus some value. The team isn’t going to compete until he’s 28 or 29 at the earliest. Ship him out!

As for Carter, he’s 6’4’’ but only 200 lbs. Put him to work with the weights over the summer and at 230 with Erik Cole on his wing he could do some serious damage.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 02/06/12 at 09:46 PM ET

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com