In Part Two of our analysis on the firing of Pierre Gauthier, our writers
take a look at some other elements. What will he best be remembered for
during his tenure with the Canadiens? Beyond his trades and other
decisions, were there other contributing factors to his eventual failure, plus
some thoughts on Gauthier’s predecessor, Bob Gainey.
Brian La Rose: I was never a card carrying member of the fire
Gauthier bandwagon but I’m not losing any sleep over the decision either.
I’m not as down on some of the moves as most are, I think the best is yet to
come from Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque in particular. The timing of this
is what really caught me by surprise, which, given that this is a big theme of
the season thus far, really shouldn’t have. Yes, the organization gets 10
extra days to do this search but they really didn’t need them. Most
organizations won’t allow interviews with their assistants and/or scouts until
after the year anyway. Good on the search committee to get started but
this was more about placating the fans than anything. Given everything
that’s happened this year, that’s not a bad idea either.
As for who could come in, there are really a multitude of options.
Fortunately for Molson (and Serge Savard who took all of a half hour to try to
discredit Molson’s suggestion that the GM doesn’t have to be bilingual), most of
them can speak both languages. As a fan who always preaches that it’s nuts
to artificially limit a limited talent pool, this puts my mind at ease
especially when there are no names readily available (aka, don’t have really
stringent contracts) that jump out as must hires. With a season that has
had very few aspects to follow with interest, this will be an intriguing search
to follow leading up to the draft…which is only 11 weeks away now.
Alex Létourneau: I didn’t think Pierre Gauthier would be fired
this year. Not because I thought he was doing a brilliant job but because I
didn’t think upper management had it in them. But, Geoff Molson’s eloquent and
passionate press conference Thursday showed Canadiens fans and the hockey world
that he has been paying attention. This season was unacceptable, plain and
simple. Looking back on it, it would seem Gauthier did everything in his power
to hurt the organization, which I would like to think was not done on purpose.
Classless dismissals and poor trades, hiring a coach and throwing him to the
wolves almost immediately after and the outright refusal to ever make himself
available to the media will define his time in Montreal. Many things he did
reflected negatively on the team and his removal was necessary.
While Gauthier takes the brunt of the heat, Bob Gainey was pulling the
strings as well. I can appreciate what the man did for the organization. This is
a man who lost a wife and a daughter within a decade and still came to work,
sometimes into toxic situations, and conducted himself like a consummate
professional. Hockey decisions aside, I have nothing but respect for Bob Gainey.
However, the teams he put on the ice were never winners. They were built for the
new NHL, which seems to be returning to the old NHL, and they were built to make
the playoffs. Outside of riding Jaroslav Halak’s stellar play, the teams
Gauthier and Gainey have built together were never going to be champions. So,
maybe this season was a blessing in disguise. The sun sets on two men at the
forefront of the team’s mediocrity for nearly a decade. Let’s see where the sun
Jonathan Rebelo: It was a foregone conclusion that Pierre would
be gone at seasons end but Geoff Molson decided to make the move last week when
his Canadiens had been officially eliminated from the playoffs. Gauthier’s many
moves failed to show much forethought or resemble any type of plan which had to
be the main reason he was removed from power. What excites me most about the
future of the management of this team was the words spoke by Molson at the press
conference. Molson said a lot of great things many fans wanted to hear. It will
be quite interesting to see if those words hold weight. Gauthier’s tenure in
Montreal will probably be remembered by a few moves 1. The trade of Halak to the
Blues. 2. The Cammalleri trade to the Flames and 3. Picking up Kaberle. Time
will tell if he wins the latter two deals but the 1st one was a win in my books.
Gauthier was a failure as GM because the team got worse under his control but I
d hope he returns to amateur scouting for the Canadiens, which is something his
track record suggests he is quite good at.
Mitchell Tierney: It was no surprise that Gauthier was relieved
of his position. It has been in the works for a long time now and the timing of
the dismissal was about the time it should have been. It was, for once this
season well timed by the organization. While it was defiantly the correct move
by the team it should be noted that I was not as opposed to Pierre Gauthier as
some in the fan base and media of the Canadiens. Gauthier was dealt plenty of
poor cards when he joined the club as a GM and while he may have added a few
more poor cards of his own he did add some important pieces to this team that
are key to the franchise long and short term. While letting Gauthier go was an
important move in changing the direction of the organization, something that was
clearly needed, this doesn’t necessarily guarantee that his replacement will be
any better. The current pool of potential general managers for the Montreal
Canadiens as suggested by the media is not a particularly strong nor experienced
group. Any one of them could be a far worse GM than Gauthier ever was and could
lead this organization to more failure.
While the Gauthier move was the one that caught the attention of all the
headlines and the discussion it was not the most important move made by the
organization on the day. The most important move was the announcement that Bob
Gainey would have leaving the organization. Serge Savard will be effectively
taking his spot in the organization but that is not what is really important.
What is truly important is that this signifies the end of an era for the
Montreal Canadiens organization as was outlined and headlined by several media
groups. It was an era that needed to end and the Bob Gainey move truly signified
the fact that the team was "cleaning house" if you will and completely changing
the management team. It was a change of direction that was the key theme in all
of this. The organization is changing for what seems like the better and both of
these moves reflected that change. Finally we can take the focus off Gauthier
and turn it towards the organization and moving forward.