Monday, March 09, 2009

Carbo a go - go

The Montreal Canadiens sent out shock waves across the NHL on Monday as they announced that head coach Guy Carbonneau had been relieved of his duties, with General Manager Bob Gainey taking over the reins behind the bench for the rest of the season.

The Habs who went into a horrid slump through January and parts of February had seemed to be slowly getting back on track in the last few weeks, though the results were still sporadic at best and apparently not enough to rescue Carbonneau from the unemployment lines.

The departure of Carbonneau comes after a Montreal victory on Sunday, when the Canadiens came out on top of their match up with the Dallas Stars. Interestingly enough it was Alex Kovalev who scored the winning goal, a rare occasion in recent months and part of the problem that the Habs have had over the last few months as they had struggled.

It wasn't any secret that Kovalev and Carbonneau didn't seem to be on the same page at times in Montreal, with Kovalev recently ordered by management to take some time to reflect on his desire to play, all be it away from the team.
Upon his return he did seem to get his game back on track to a degree, but still could be counted on to make one or two mental errors per game which must have driven Carbonneau to distraction at times.

While all the Habs were trying to sort out their blahs, the General Manager was apparently trying to figure out his next move. It must have been a very hard decision to have had to make, as he and Carbonneau have seen a lot of ice under their skates over their years together, whether as team mates in their playing days for the Habs, or through their time in Dallas and on to the giant microscope that coaching and managing in Montreal is.

Gainey's decision may have been forced upon him by the Habs competitors in the East, with both Pittsburgh and Carolina suddenly making moves towards the playoff spots, a move which could come at the expense of the Habs who at the start of the season looked like a lock on a post season play, but not so much anymore.

By inserting himself behind the bench, Gainey is apparently sending the message that he believes that this team can not only make the playoffs but succeed at them, even if it means removing a long time partner and friend from the Canadiens mix. It will prove to be a much discussed, analyzed and watched move, one that Montreal's always intense press will be recording in each period, of each game until the end of the season and providing the move pays off, well beyond.

Montreal Gazette-- Canadiens axe Carbonneau
Photo above from the Montreal Gazette website

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