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Posts Tagged ‘Bob Gainey’

Bob Gainey, now a former Montreal GM.

The stepping down, or aside, whichever way you look at it, of Bob Gainey from the Habs GM post sure did come as a surprise.

He looked tired and relieved all at the same time. He is one of Montreal’s all time great players and his resumé as GM is not all that bad. The team has been a winner under him but in a city where it is the Stanley Cup or bust, he could not meet lofty expectations. Let’s remember that he has not decimated this team like other former Habs have when in power, such as Rejean Houle and Mario Tremblay.

He did make some confounding and frustrating decisions. Bringing back Brisebois, losing Mark Streit and Mark Komisarek were among them. However, what I think ultimately undid his tenure was not his faith in Carey Price, his draft pick who is slowly developing and adjusting to NHL life but his faith in Alex Kovalev.

His long walk and talk with Kovalev a few summers back to entice Kovalev to stay and be the key cog in the Hab engine really did screw him in the end. As per his resumé, Kovalev proceeded to have a great season followed by a crap one. The same mantra always applies to Alex, one of the most talented players in the game but an enigma to coach. Kovalev and the example he set and the reported strife he caused in the lockerroom vis-à-vis leadership and Saku Koivu could not be ignored. The Habs hitched their wagon to “The Enigma” and it frustratingly stuttered and stalled along the way.

Bob Gainey, at left, Larry Robinson and Mats Naslund, my 1986 Cup memories include Gainey's key leadership.

Something was amiss last year when Gainey axed Carbo as coach. The move just did not make sense. Two former close teammates with a shared history beyond their playing days, once mentor and student as well, it seemed like a bond which could not be broken by a team not producing but it apparently did. Today, on a Toronto sport radio show, Carbo said that his firing was an “un-Bob” like move and now that we see Pierre Gauthier taking the mantle and Jacques Martin as coach, the dominoes become clearer to see.

We now have a former Senators GM at the helm with the coach he brought in, when they were in Ottawa, to help right the Ottawa ship. How long has all this been brewing behind the scenes?

I like Gainey’s gutting of the squad this past off-season, it is was bold and needed. If not for some injuries, all the free agents would have been able to give even more positively to the team’s fortunes. Camalleri has worked out as has Gionta, Gill and Spacek. Gomez, if not for his price tag, would be an ok pick up as well.

Gainey has given his life to the Habs and the man himself must be remembered for all he has endured recently. He lost his wife to cancer in 2005 and the his daughter at sea in an accident in 2006.

He now can live his life, we can hope and live it with the spotlight he wishes to shine on the things nearest and dearest to him-which is all we can wish for one of the greatest Habs of all time.

Take care Bob.

Au revoir et bonne chance Bob.

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Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens plays in his first game at the Bell Centre on October 15, 2008 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Good bye George, you’re a good guy and a heavyweight to respect.

We won’t miss his goal scoring touch or playmaking abilities. Will we even miss what he was meant to do, fight and protect his teammates? Strangely, enough, we probably won’t miss that either.

I’ve always believed we needed a police officer to protect our playmakers and small guys but too often than not, big bad George was either injured or simply not fighting. He never fulfilled his career reputation.

“Not being productive…and being destructive on the whole…” were among the words Bob Gainey used to explain why George was released.

We can’t comment, as fans, about the distraction he had become to his team, as Gainey reports, but couldn’t his release have been done in a more classy way? The poor guy must be suffering with the tragedy that has hit homeland of Haiti, this unceremonious severing of ties just seems plain cold.

“…Gainey said he gave Laraque an offer Wednesday to give him a leave of absence so he could deal with the situation in Haiti, either by being with his family or by going to the devastated country to help with the recovery. Gainey said Laraque refused the offer, saying everything was fine, ” reports the Toronto Star.

Well, if the above is the case, that answers my question.

Au revoir Georges.

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Lordy, lord, it has been a long time since I last stepped in this place.

What can I say, the horror and disappointment of last year’s Habs season left me never wanting to return….until the Free Agent Frenzy happened.

So, after the dust settled from yesterday’s mad-signing dash we do have a different looking team, is it better? Well, it is different and somewhat better but with a whole bunch of caveats.

Scott Gomez is a fine addition but is overpaid at $7 million and losing Higgins hurts, he was one of our few forwards who actually showed up in the playoffs and played with some sandpaper in his game. Shame to lose him but Gomez helps us down the middle- though we are still missing a big centreman and this will kill us, once again. Watch Higgins haunt us like Ryder did with Boston, LeClair did with the Flyers…etc. etc.

Free agent signings of Brian Gionta and Mike Camilleri are good signings but once again, a caveat or two. I’ve been a fan of Camilleri’s since his days with the Kings and he did have a breakout year last with the Flames…if he snipes anywhere near 35 goals again is the only way to measure him as a success this year.

Gionta… he is small…tiny by NHL standards, but he once sniped 40 with Gomez in New Jersey but the past two seasons…he has not been great (same with Gomez) – may be reuniting them will spark their games to where they were two years ago when the last played together. Considering the systems they played under in New Jersey, playing for Jacques Martin should not be problem. Also, though Martin likes defence, his skilled forwards always put up solid numbers, which bodes well for Gomez, Gionta and Camillieri, let alone “The Enigma” known as Alex Kovalev.

These three players are an improvement over what we have up front. I am thoroughly convinced that neither of the Kostitsyns and Plekanec are top line material, not even close and “The Enigma” is too much to bear as the lone genuine sniper- now he will have some kind of support.

To round out the forwards, I am sad to see Saku Koivu and Tanguay go. Saku gave a lot to the community and the team but his performances were looking tired as was his output. Tanguay was a one year project spoiled by an injury, we will miss his speed and skill. I am still uncertain on the future of Robert Lang – anyone hear anything?

I am still too ticked off about losing Komisarek to the Leafs to write about the moves on defence right now but I will say this, I have no issues with Spacek or Gill and I think they are an improvement over Brisebois and O’Byrne.

 

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Time for the post-mortem on Les Glorieux, our wonderful Habs flamed out so badly this year that I am almost thankful the season has finally ended.

Since the all-star break the cracks really started to show and we never recovered. Our paper thin lineup and lack of quality depth came back to bite us in the arse. A team built along the Buffalo youth model; remember how we touted the pedigree of our kids developed in Hamilton, just barely made it through this season.

We fired Carbo, which in the end really improved nothing. How could a coach so good a season ago be fire-worthy a season later? The internal strife and cancer on this team, whatever it is, need to be exorcised.

This lineup, even if it were healthy, would not have defeated the Boston Bruins. We lacked depth and size. Honestly, last year’s playoff series against Boston should have been our wake-up call. We almost blew a 3-1 series lead against them and we have never been the same since.

Here is my personal post-mortem on this squad and what I think needs to be done regarding our unrestricted free agents:

Carey Price stays. He is 21 and he is a very good goaltender with tonnes of potential and a lot still to learn. Yes, he gave it the old “Roy wave” to fans and that is ok. He is being made a scapegoat for a team with no real defence and grit up front, let alone real scoring threats. Can he play better? Yes. Was he the lone problem? No. Get this kid a veteran back-up, a quality veteran back-up and it can only help. Halak is good goalie but he is no Price. Deal Halak if you have to, the Price is still right, it says here

We need a real, bonafide, NUMBER ONE centre. Plekanec will never be that. Koivu is way past prime. Lang is a solid number two but closer to number three centre, sign him. We need a horse down the middle, simple as that. Until we get one, we will never win.

Kovalev cannot be depended on anymore. He is an awesome talent that never seems to remain consistent. He is a top six forward, no doubt, but he cannot be the lone sniper and cannon we rely on anymore. Sign him and get him help.

Resign Komisarek, he is a solid, physical defenceman, one that we need to be in our top pairing. Yes, we have almost $12 million tied up in Hamrlik and Markov but find a way to move Hamrlik and keep Komisarek. We will regret losing him.

Good bye Saku. It has been a nice run but we have really not achieved anything with him as captain. There are emotional ties to this little Finn but let’s face facts, at 34, now is the time to move on from him and let him go. Watch Saku join his brother in Minnesota.

Alex Tanguay- I say sign him, he is a second line forward and until he was injured, he was clicking quite well under the Montreal media pressure, give him a shot

Francis Boullion, sign him, he is a mobile and gritty depth defenceman. Brings a lot in a little package.

Mathieu Dandenault – would we really miss this role player? Don’t think so, the kids Stewart or D’Agostini can do his job just as easily.

Tom Kostopoulos – he brings it every night he plays, the sandpaper we need on our last two lines, sign him.

Mathieu Schneider – resign him, has proven his worth even at his age. If you are going to have an aging blueliner, at least have one that can contribute so we can good riddance to Patrice Breeze-by.

Patrice Brisebois- for the LOVE OF GOD put him out to pasture. His value proved to be NOTHING down the stretch and in the playoffs. A waste of money, space and a developmental spot on the lineup.

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With the 100th Montreal Canadiens season underway and nostalgia all about,  I got to thinking about my favourite Habs players that I have seen in my lifetime. These guys have run the spectrum, from pluggers and grinders to bonafide superstars. Some of these players were with Montreal for a long time, some  just a short while and others were winding down stellar careers with Les Glorieux.

So, listed here,  is my personal all-time Montreal Canadiens team from 1982 to 2008. Why this period? It around 1982 when I finally began to understand hockey and the greatness of players. They were no longer merely skaters on the tv screen. I had finally begun to understand what makes a player great and another normal.

I also included a “Black Aces” squad, these were players that did not make the final cut but would be on the “practice squad”.  Let me know what you think overall, if you agree or disagree etc.

Here we go: 

CENTRE

Vincent Damphousse – helped lead the Habs to their last Stanley Cup in 1993- his skill and savvy play solidified the Habs down the middle.

 

Bobby Smith – the big guy was the Habs number one centre on the 1986 Cup winning team. The 6’4′ Smith took all the major draws and drew a lot of attention. The Habs have not had a centre with his size and skill since he him.

 

Guy Carbonneau – they basically renamed the Selke Trophy the Guy Carbonneau Trophy because of Carbo’s masterful defensive play as a forward. He was the key shut down guy and a leader on both the 86 and 93 Cup winning teams. His trade to St. Louis in 1994 for Jim Montgomery- remember him (he only PLAYED FIVE GAMES with Habs before being released)???- should have landed then Habs GM Serge Savard a psych-ward visit.

 

 

Saku Koivu – The heart and soul of the Habs over the last decade. He had been both an inspirational leaders and role model, worthy of the captain’s “C” on his sweater. 

 

LEFT WING

 

Mats Naslund– The Little Viking – by far one of the most skilled and crafty wingers on Habs teams which were short on such skill. Carried the offence for quite awhile as other players aged and faltered.

 

 

Bob Gainey – One of the greatest two-way players of all-time. His leadership and savyy was core to the Habs win in 1986.

 

 

Mike McPhee – A grinder, a plugger, played hard and did a lot of dirty work in the corners for the Habs. A key grinder on the 86 team. Also, had the best moustache in recent Habs memory.

 

Kirk Muller – Captian Kirk. Talk about a guy who played with heart and was key at both ends of the ice. His skill may have been rusting up by the time he hit Montreal but he still delivered game in and game out.

 

RIGHT WING

 

Guy Lafleur – The Flower. Sure his bloom was fading by the time I could appreciate, from 1982 and on, but he still was captivating to watch. He gave so much to the Habs and ommitting him from this list would be folly.

 

Alex Kovalev – What a talent. No denying his talent and shot. If he only he could break some selfish bad habits. However, when he has the puck, no one can ignore him from that wicked shot to tape-to-tape passes, you watch his every move when he has the puck.

 

 

Claude Lemieux – One of the best leaders, through action, of recent Habs squads. Sure he played gritty and dirty at times but he was a leader and most importantly a winner. When he was on the ice, the Habs always had a chance to win.

 

Mark Recchi – The Wrecker. Arrived through the Leclair trade with a lot of pressure on him. He gave his all. Was fun to watch streaking down the side then cutting through the slot. Played way bigger than his reported 5’10’ frame.

 

 

DEFENCE

 

Larry Robinson – Big Bird on D. He was still making solid end-to-end rushes in 1984. His steady work and leadrship help seal the 86 cup win.

 

Chris Chelios – Amazing to think Chelios was once a Hab and we gave him up for an aging Denis Savard. Chelios’ skill, passing and powerplay work was top notch.  

 

Petr Svboda – Was not the most physical defenceman but his passing and puck movement was key to Habs teams.

 

Craig Ludwig – A rock on D. Was not the most mobile defenceman but he was a tough guy, a rock in front of the net and in the corners.

 

Andrei Markov – Likely the most talented Habs defenceman since Chelios and Desjardins. Markov has grown into his D role and is a threat both offensively and defensively.

 

Eric Desjardins – Was one of the most talented Habs D since the 1970s. Was a leader, incredible on the power play point and could peel of a rush anytime. His contributions in the 93 cup are historic.

 

 

GOALTENDER

 

 Patrick Roy – The greatest money goalie of all time, one of the top 3 goalies ever, no matter what the criteria. Won two Conn Smythes and was the lynchpin to the last two Habs cups- need we say more?

 

Jose Theodore – Took Habs fans on a special ride. Was a rock in the net for some time under the glaring media lights of Montreal. He won a Hart Trophy and Vezina and was simply the best in the NHL for a two year span.

 

Black Aces:

 

RW Stephane Richer

G  Brian Hayward

D Sheldon Souray

D Matthieu Schneider

C Doug Gilmour

C Brian Skrudland

RW Jon Leclair

D Craig Rivet

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