Monday, May 31, 2010

Montreal Roundup: Habs Fire Six Scouts, Columbus Speaks to Boucher

It has been about a week since the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, and things have already started percolating in their offseason.

News surfaced a few days ago that the Habs brass had given the Columbus Blue Jackets permission to speak with highly touted Hamilton Bulldogs' head coach, Guy Boucher.

Boucher, if you didn't know, is the wundercoach who took the Canadian Juniors to the gold medal during last years World Junior Championship.

He is also the guy who was appointed head coach of the Habs' AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, last summer.

During his first year in Hamilton, Boucher led the Bulldogs to a second place over all finish with a 52-17-3-8 record good enough for 115 points. In addition, Boucher was credited with being a master at the psychological end of coaching; helping disgruntled players like Sergei Kostitsyn regain their footing.

With screams for Jacques Martin's head all season long from the fanbase, many people were hoping that Boucher would be the one brought in to take over the reigns.

As unlikely as Martin's possible dismissal was before the playoffs, after the Habs excellent run it is safe to say that he ain't going nowhere!

Boucher, on the other hand, if not snatched up by the Jackets will surely find himself in the NHL in the not too distant future and it is very unlikely that it will be with the Canadiens.

He is a talented, up and coming coach, who has a track record or success and, once the right opportunity presents itself, he is as good as gone.

The Canadiens, on the other hand, have three more years on Jacques Martin's contract and Boucher is sure to be gone before it's up.

And good for him.

Getting to the NHL, in any capacity, is about excelling and working your butt off and making the most of your chance when you get it. It would be wrong of the Canadiens to try to protect the asset that Boucher is by denying other teams the right to speak with him.

So, while he might be a great fit for the Habs, and could possibly do a great job working with the likes of Benoit Pouliot and P.K. Subban, when he time comes the Habs will rightfully let him walk.

Trouble in the Hen House
According to Tony Marinaro of the Team 990, the Canadiens today fired six members of their scouting department—five amateur scouts and one professional.

The list of dismissed scouts is as follows: Dave Mayville, Denis Morel, Pelle Eklund—no not the guy from—Nikolai Varoutov, and pro scout Gordie Roberts.

While the timing of the firings is a little surprising given that the Habs open their development camp tomorrow in Brossard and that the entry draft is about three weeks away, it is a reflection that the Habs brass was not happy with their drafting results.

While these six members were singled out, there is no question that this is an indictment of the Canadiens draft track record.

As Marinaro pointed out on the Team 990 today, the Habs greatest failing is in their first round pick: Carey Price, Andrei Kostitsyn, Max Pacorietty, David Fischer, Kyle Chipchura, Chris Higgins, Alexander Perezhogin and Ron Hainsey.

While some of the players mentioned above still have time to develop and become impact players, there is no question that Andrei Kostitsyn, Chris Higgins, and Kyle Chipchura have just not worked out.

The Habs couldn't get Hainsey working hard enough, Perezhogin ran off to Russia, Fischer has not progressed as expected, and Chipchura was a bust.

In later rounds, the Habs have done a pretty good job finding player like Sergei Kostitsyn, Michael Ryder, Andrei Markov, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan O'Byrne, P.K. Subban and Maxim Lapierre who range anywhere from being serviceable to elite.

In moving 5 amateur scouts out today, Gauthier is in essence admitting that. Moreover, I believe that while Trevor Timmins job as head scout is probably still secure, I think that if the scouting continues to slip he could find himself in the unemployment line too.

I wonder how long Gauthier had planned to make these moves and if this was something he wanted to do to make his mark on the team.

Aside from bringing in Dominic Moore at the trade deadline, Gauthier has not had a chance to do much.

Now, however, Gauthier enters his first offseason at the head of the team and will get a chance to put his stamp on the team.

In a lot of ways, I find it appropriate that he is first looking to make changes internally before making them in his player lineup. I like it. Get your house in order before making player decisions.

And there will be no shortage of difficult choices for Gauthier this summer with pending UFA Tomas Plekanec, RFA's Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price, the Habs limited cap space, and their desperate need for size up front.

If today's move in anything it is a step in the right direction. Let's hope that Gauthier's subsequent moves continue that trend.


About time the Habs did something about the scouting. That said, I still think the whole process is largely a crap shoot. I do like Gautier trying to fix it though. Will be interesting to see what he does with the pending list of UFA and RFA players on the current Habs roster. Can't wait.

I think we're not only likely to lose Boucher, we're likely to lose Muller as well. If they both walk this summer, who will keep Jacques on the level come next season?

Hey Tyg,

Yep, the draft is a crap shoot. The Habs have sucked at first round drafting but have sucked even harder at developing the players they draft.

That is the second key cog that needs to be fixed, imo. Higgins, Hainsey, Latendresse, Price, MaxPac, D'Agostini....I could go on but you get the point.

No clue what he will do this summer but suffice it to say that he has his hands full this summer!

Boucher and Muller gone...what can you do. I just hope they don't bring in another wooden plank like Pearn. This team needs some life behind the bench and Muller is the only one who brings that so far.

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