The Upper Canadien
by The Upper Canadien on 02/05/12 at 02:35 PM ET
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.
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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.
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