Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier and his special advisor Bob Gainey were among the last to leave the Bell Centre press box last night after the loss to Florida. It doesn’t take much imagination to know what they were talking about for almost an hour after the game.
Their team is off to it’s worst start in history and in the streets and in parts of the media the cry is “fire the coach”.
Of course they are. It’s the universal knee jerk solution. And rarely does it cure the structural problems besetting a struggling franchise.
May I say here that I don’t think Jacques Martin is going to be fired. Certainly not in the near future.
There are a number of reasons for this. In the past, I have seen entire teams that have given up on their coach’s message. The current Canadiens are not one of them. There seems to be some effort, and they’re aware of what Martin wants from them, they’re just not accomplishing it.
And, what if Gauthier did the dirty deed and fired Martin? What then?
The “Pierre Boivin Doctrine” states that there will never again be a non-French speaking head coach in Montreal. The only available members of that group are the failed and pretty much unemployable gang of former coaches that currently fills the Montreal airwaves with their second guessing, mostly on RDS. I can’t imagine anyone with even a marginal knowledge of the game would want to return to any of them.
Additionally, we can refer to recent history which points up the danger having a quick trigger. These words from Buffalo general manager Darcy Regier.
“It’s not unusual for a hockey team at some point in the season to want good things to happen without paying the necessary price.”
He could have been talking about this season’s Canadiens. But, in fact he was talking about his own team which went through an almost identical struggle last fall. On November 5th, the Canadiens handed the Sabres a 3-2 loss and dropped them into 30th place in the league. It was the Sabres seventh home game of the season and they had lost all of them. Fans and some members of the media were calling for Lindy Ruff;s job. But Regier held firm. And, wouldn’t you know, the Sabres turned it around. The rest of the season the Sabres were 40-20-8 and wound up in a points tie with the Canadiens In the Northeast division at 96 points.
Jacques Martin, like Ruff, has coached over a thousand games in the NHL. As a matter of fact that November 5th, 2010 home loss to the Canadiens was his 998th. A hockey dummy doesn’t get the opportunity to coach a thousand games. He’s earned a longer leash than the Corey Cloustons or John McLeans of last year’s coaching casualty list. It’s going to take a much longer losing streak than six games to cause Martin to lose his job.