Sunday, 3 June 2012

Playing with Fire

Recently traded ex-Habs Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek talked about the system that former Coach Jacques Martin employed with the Montreal Gazette's Dave Stubbs. Spacek: "I think we played too much of a defensive system, I didn’t like that. I think it was even boring to watch us, to be honest. To be very honest. Come on, at home, we play like this? I think it was boring a little bit. At the end of the night, if you win 2-1, nobody cares. It’s a win. But there weren’t too many games that we win 5-2, 6-4, wide-open games in which you just had fun. There weren’t too many like that." Hal Gill elaborated "The message (from the coaching staff) was we need to play as a team with their system. I tried to preach it but the hard part was we didn’t play to guys’ strengths. With Gomez, you don’t expect him to chip it up the boards, you want him to come back and pick it up. If he can’t do that, he can’t be effective."

Speculation from many is that Scott Gomez will be buried in Hamilton this season. That very well could be the case. His salary is an albatross on the books. At his best performance levels, Scott Gomez will never live up to that salary, and in Montreal we have barely seen his best. I see things differently, I'd like to see a coach come in that allows the players to play to their strengths.Gives players properly defined roles. A coach who can be systematic when necessary, but knows how to open things up too. Give that kind of coach to the players - like Gomez - and then see what they can do. If he still doesn't perform, then bury him. But first, I'd bring in Marc Crawford.


In an article for the Hockey News a few years back, former NHL General Manager Mike Smith discussed "what makes a good coach".

For the purposes of the article, Smith interviewed multiple people from various sports, one of whom was former Canadiens GM Serge Savard. The same Serge Savard who currently has the ear of Canadiens owner Geoff Molson. Savard told Smith that “The coach has to treat everyone with respect – they will respect him in return.”

Savard, in a separate interview, told TSN 990's Mitch Melnick that the coach must speak French - the same way in his view that he must speak English. Crawford speaks both languages.

New Assistant General Manager Rick Dudley told Tony Marinaro that one of the qualities that is essential for the next Coach of the Canadiens is that he be a teacher. (A quality that GM Marc Bergevin said was apparent in all the candidates that have been interviewed.)

TSN's Bob McKenzie who doesn't usually get these things wrong, tweeted the other day that "Now that Bob Hartley is new head coach in CGY, MTL job is down to Michel Therrien or Marc Crawford."
I am not against Michel Therrien, I think he is a better coach now than when he was last in Montreal, but I think it's time for a different face here. After Martin, Julien, Therrien and Vigneault it's time to bring in an offensive coach, not ask a coach to change his style.

Therrien preaches defense, Crawford preaches offense. Therrien throws players' under the bus, Crawford protects his players. Therrien has been to a Stanley Cup Final, Crawford has won a Stanley Cup. Therrien has coached here before, Crawford is dying to coach here once - evidenced by the fact that he is taking French lessons just to interview for the job.

Marc Crawford won the Jack Adams award as the NHL's best Coach in 1995. He won a Stanley Cup with Colorado 1 year later. Since his first coaching job (with Quebec) 18 seasons ago, Crawford has only been out of the league 2 seasons - never having to wait too long to be hired again. He has coached his teams to a career record of 549-421-103-78, a winning percentage .556.

The Canadiens are a young team with only one direction to move - up. Crawford has been in this situation before. In Quebec he came on coaching a promising young team and took them to a Stanley cup. In Vancouver, he took a rebuilding team from the cellar to first in the division. Crawford slowly developed the Canucks into a successful regular season team, emphasizing a fast-paced and offensive style of play. Although his Vancouver teams' ultimately did not fare well in the playoffs, his coaching record in Vancouver still ranks tops among that franchise's history.

After years of Stoic personalities behind the bench, Martin, Gainey, Julien, the Canadiens players seem to be dying for a passionate coach with a bit of bite. I believe that is why many of them talk so positively about Kirk Muller and Randy Cunneyworth.

After Guy Carbonneau and Mario Tremblay as coaches, it became evident to many watching that Montreal is no place for a rookie head coach. No place for a coach who is solely a motivator not a strategist, and no place for a coach who throws his own players under the bus.

Either way, it seems as though Hab-fans are about to get a fiery personality here, and that is something I can get behind. It's time to see the Habs play with some fire - like they started to behind Coach Cunney.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! Very well written and insightful. I think Marc Crawford would be a great fit with the Habs. Keep up the terrific work.