Playoffs or Bust: Analyzing Gainey's GM years in Montreal
Playoffs or Bust: Analyzing Gainey's GM years in Montreal(2010-07-24 20:59 posted by Mark Houle)

Bring up Bob Gainey's name amongst fans of the Canadiens and you are bound to elicit plenty of emotion.  Many love him, and the work that he has done.  Many dislike the direction, or lack thereof, the Canadiens have been traveling under his direction.  This was evidenced by the very mixed reception he received during the Canadiens 100th anniversary celebration.  Beyond the rhetoric this begs the question, "Statistically speaking, how do the Canadiens stack up in the Gainey era against the rest of the NHL?" 

A good starting point might be to look at the things that are found important enough to make banners hang from the rafters.  It seems like Stanley Cup playoff wins, making the playoffs, and winning your conference during the regular season would fall into this category.  Counting last season makes sense since it was for all intents and purposes the team he put together.  Under Bob Gainey's leadership of 6 seasons, how well did the Canadiens perform in the "Banner" stats: 

Team Times in playoffs Series Wins Best Record
DET 6 11 4
SJS 6 7 2
NJD 6 2
PHI 5 7  
MON 5 4 1
OTT 5 4 1
COL 5 3  
CAL 5 3  
NAS 5 0  
PIT 4 8  
ANA 4 7  
VAN 4 3  
BOS 4 2 1
DAL 4 2  
NYR 4 2  
BUF 3 4 1
TAM 3 4 1
WAS 3 1 1
CHI 2 6  
CAR 2 6  
STL 2 0  
MIN 2 0  
NYI 2 0  
EDM 1 3  
TOR 1 1  
PHO 1 0  
LAK 1 0  
ATL 1 0  
CBJ 0 0  
FLA 0 0  

So when it comes to playoff appearances in the Bob Gainey era the Habs are tied for fourth with 5. When it comes to playoff series won, they are tied for 8th with 4. When it comes to having the best record in a conference, the Habs are one of eight teams to have done so.  Any combination of these that you choose really leaves the team no lower than eighth, and if you look at it, Montreal is probably about the 5th 7th best team in this time period.

What happens in the past 3 years when Bob Gainey had more of a chance to implement his 5 year plan? 

Team Times in playoffs Series Wins Best Record
DET 3 8 1
PIT 3 8  
PHI 3 5  
SJS 3 3 2
MON 3 3 1
BOS 3 2 1
WAS 3 1 1
COL 3 1  
NJD 3 0  
CHI 2 6  
VAN 2 2  
ANA 2 1  
NYR 2 1  
OTT 2 0  
CAL 2 0  
NAS 2 0  
CAR 1 2  
DAL 1 2  
BUF 1 0  
STL 1 0  
MIN 1 0  
PHO 1 0  
LAK 1 0  
TAM 0 0  
EDM 0 0  
TOR 0 0  
NYI 0 0  
ATL 0 0  
CBJ 0 0  
FLA 0 0  

The Canadiens look pretty clearly like the 5th best team in the league during these three years. Tied for first in playoff appearance, tied for 5th in playoff series won, and one of 5 teams to have had the best record in their conference.  

Pro Gainey: The playoffs are what matter.  It is when television ratings go up, fan interest goes up, intensity goes up, grizzled beards are grown, the big money is made by teams and players, and most of all where legends are forged.  Though not a Stanley Cup winner during this era, Montreal stacks up nicely in "Banner" stats. 

Gainey detractors: Will likely begin by looking at regular season wins and losses, and noting that the team is very average at best.  They would also point out that the team even though they made the playoffs 5 times were the 8th seed twice, and the 7th seed twice.   

No, it's not the Flying Frenchmen or the stuff of legend to be the 5th best team.  Then again it's nothing to sneeze at either.  Especially when you consider he inherited a team that missed the playoffs 4 of the 5 years before he came, a team that almost no free agents would sign with, the likes of Andy Moog and Randy McKay notwithstanding.  It was a woeful team when Bob Gainey took the reins, and by these measures he did a lot of good work without having a Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin fall into his lap.  In the end it's not enough to be bronzed, but certainly nothing to be tarred and feathered for either.   



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