I’ve got to hand it to Bob Gainey. He could have hid. He could have passed the buck. He could have traded a star player. Instead he did the last thing anyone expected – he stepped into the breach with the gutsiest move of his tenure. Under the circumstances, it is the best move possible.
Is it Claude Julien’s fault that his club faltered after the quick start? Yes. Coaching is about strategy and motivation. The players on the Canadiens roster clearly didn’t feel like playing that often for their coach. The vast majority of those losses were simply due to lack of effort.
Does this mean the certain Chez Parée gold card memberships are being revoked?
What did Julien not understand? Not that I’m auditioning mind you, but I think he relied too much on system. Players get bored in a system, players stop thinking, and stop being active. They lose interest. Once a system gets broken every adversary knows how it was done.
The Habs have responded since the change with a revved up power play, which has scored a staggering 7 goals in 2 games.
Can I get a Wow over here?
They won’t be that good often but clearly they remembered how to bring effort to the rink. Their heads were in it. They were all arrayed against the common enemy.
The positives of this move are overwhelming beyond these two games too.
Mr. Gainey gets to see, first hand, a group of players who are feeling somewhat disconnected. He can see Ribeiro’s attitude, Koivu and Kovalev’s occasional indifference. He can make the necessary game decisions without anyone breathing down his neck. He can sit Bonk. He can see how underwhelming and in need of playing time the youth is. He can assess if there are game changers among the youth.
He can make decisions Claude Julien wasn’t comfortable enough to make. Only Julien can tell us what the circumstances were for his choices, something that is happening a little later today.
The concern everyone always has about GM’s who step in to coach is: will the GM’s attention get too divided between his various duties? Will he make another bad deal? He must still have some confidence in his pro and amateur scouts if he took this step… One thing is certain – he will know what his team lacks after 20 games if he doesn’t know already. If he doesn’t the team will continue to slump.
If Mr. Gainey didn’t accept responsibility for the moves he has made, he would get rid of Pierre Gauthier, or some pro scouts, or Andre Savard. Instead, he has given his players the vote of confidence they so desperately needed.
And that has meant alot to Jose Theodore. Theodore is getting his confidence back and I’m sure Gainey can continue to help him. Anyone who can survive in the room with Ken Dryden can find a way to soothe the mind of Jose Theodore. Dryden as a player was a complex mind who overanalyzed everything. Chances are good Jose is less complex.
No offence intended Jose but have you considered Law school lately?
Lastly, the Mr. Gainey can’t make any deals unless he is in a position of strength. His best chance of his team regaining strength is to be behind the bench. There could be consequences if the team doesn’t respond. If so, I’m sure Mr. Gainey wouldn’t be unemployed for long.
A good example of this situation would be Mike Ribeiro. Not so long ago Scott Gomez was considered about the same value as Ribeiro. That time might come around again if Ribeiro can get 25-30 points in the next 20 games. Right now Mr. Gainey would be lucky to get a decent third line player à la Sundstrom. That would not help the Habs who have too many of that type of player already. Their greatest current need is a center with speed, grit, and decent scoring.
Who could that be?
In the meantime, let’s talk about the development of Guillaume Latendresse. He is one of the most critical young players in the Habs future. He represents the most offensively skilled big body in the Habs organization. His future will, in a large way, dictate the approach of Bob Gainey as we approach the trade deadline.
My only question is…
Is Larry Robinson available to be the Habs defensive coach?