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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good News, Bad News for Habs Fans on Guy Boucher

In case you didn't hear yet, the Habs affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs' head coach, Guy Boucher, was offered and turned down the head coaching job for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Yay!

And in case you didn't hear yet, according to reports from Rue Frontenac and TSN, he subsequently accepted the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boo!

Guy Boucher has been the most sought after coach since his Hamilton Bulldogs were eliminated in Game Seven of their conference finals less than two weeks ago.

Having won gold with the Canadian World Juniors two seasons ago and, more importantly, taking an improbable Hamilton Bulldogs squad to within one game of the Calder Cup finals this year, Boucher's star had been rising for quite some time.

The murmurs throughout Habs-nation this year had been that Boucher was exactly the type of coach that Montreal needed behind their bench.

Moreover, as the Habs struggled through an up and down season Jacques Martin's "system" began looking more and more antiquated. As the inconsistency persisted, fans started getting more and more frustrated that Martin had a four-year contract while the organization had a gem of a coach, in Boucher, sitting in the AHL.

As twisted as it might sound, many were hoping for an early first round exit by the Habs, followed by the firing of Martin and the potential promotion of Boucher.

Well, as of this morning, that dreams has evaporated.

Tampa now becomes the benefactor of a great hockey mind in Steve Yzerman who will be coached by the youngest and most educated coach in the NHL—Boucher is 38 and has a degree in sports psychology.

I have to admit that I would have loved to see Boucher behind the Habs bench, even as an assistant as he is part of a new generation of coaches who work the intangible side of hockey as much as the tangibles.

If there is one thing that Boucher was known for it was his ability to help young players get their heads screwed on straight.

It remains to be seen how successful Boucher will be in the NHL but suffice it to say that if he was able to help Sergei Kostitsyn to change his thinking at the beginning of the year, he should be able to get Vincent Lecavalier back near the 90+ point range.

So, while the talk over the last little while has been able the poor first rounds draft picks the Habs have made over the last ten years, the focus will once again turn to coaching.

Despite the improbable run that the Canadiens went on during the playoffs, many if not most fans still believe that Coach Martin is the wrong man for the job. Many also believe the Pierre Gauthier is the wrong man for his job.

While the loss of Boucher is sure to continue to sour people on the Canadiens management and coaching decisions I would say this: they had no choice but to let him go.

The Canadiens are not an organization that will stand in front of someone's progress for selfish reasons. If they did not want Boucher to leave then they should have offered him a job in Montreal. Seeing as this was not what happened, the Habs rightfully granted teams the permission to speak with and hire Boucher.

As for the Habs tandem of Gauthier and Martin, I too am not the biggest fan of either man's track records to date. That being said, I am willing to give both the benefit of the doubt.

Let's see what they can do.

Despite Martin's spotty playoff history he somehow managed to take a terribly inconsistent team to within three games of the Stanley Cup final. That has to count for something.

Let's see what he does with a full year with the same core group under his belt. Let's see how he does without, hopefully, having to deal with the tremendous number of injuries to key players throughout the season. Let's see how he does without having to teach 23 players a new system.

As for Gauthier, this will be his first offseason as the GM of the Habs and there is no shortage of difficult and important decisions for him to make going forward. So let's give him a chance to do his thing and, like Martin, we can judge his body of work after it has been performed and not before.

UPDATE - According to RDS, Habs assistant coach Perry Pearn will be leaving the Habs to become the head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings (Junior team).

6 comments:

You're better than I am Kamal - giving Martin and Gautier the benefit of the doubt. I think a lot of the reason Martin got it done this year was due to Muller, who has the ear and trust of the players and who seemed to help quarterback JM's stupid system. Gautier thus far has failed to resign anyone, or make any moves in the off season, other than to let Boucher go. Maybe JM will do better with a roster that isn't hindered by massive injury, but I've been against the man from the start and he didn't get the team into the ECF by himself. Gautier is Gainey's legacy, so I expect the same kind of movement, which for me will cause a lot of eye rolling and sarcastic remarks.

A lot of fans seem to think Boucher is just going to magically reappear on the Habs doorstep in a few years after his experience in Tampa Bay and declare "Here I am, ready to be your franchise saviour." Not sure I agree with that at all. If he achieves success in Tampa Bay - which is likely especially as he's taking the entire Bulldogs coaching staff with him - then why would he leave? If he doesn't do well and gets fired, do the Habs really want him back? And even if they do want him back eventually, the timing has to be perfect and he has to be willing and available. I doubt we'll see Boucher back, and this is something else I'm already blaming Gautier for. He could have worked a deal whereby Boucher would have been made assistant to JM, and a line of succession made clear. While we're on this subject, Muller's contract is due up, so who knows if we'll even keep him this year. If not, I expect JM to do worse next year, not better.

Don't care about losing Pearn tho, in all honesty.

Hey Tyg!

Don't get me wrong, because I am also NOT a JM fan. Moreover, I don't think Gauthier is the right man for the job either.

That being said, I am willing to give them a chance only because I have no other choice.

For good or ill, we are stuck with these two for the foreseeable future and so I just decided to take the "wait and see" approach vs. the "I hate and want them gone" approach, if only for my own sanity!

I agree re: a return for Boucher. He is gone. Let's accept that and realize that the chance of him coming back are slim and that the timing would have to be perfect for it to happen.

It looks like the Habs have or might be offering the head coaching position in Hamilton to Muller. The thinking, from what I am reading, is that they move Muller to Hamilton and promote Boucher to assistant in Montreal.

That being said, Boucher just didn't see himself as an assistant in this league and he took a great opportunity in Tampa, imo.

I also don't care about losing Pearn. Who cares? The Habs need some emotion back there and Pearn is as much of a robot as Martin.

My fear for next year is that the expectations will be too high for a team that struggled all year long but somehow came together in the playoffs.

How they do next year, however, will depend greatly on what Gauthier does this summer.

That's not my fear, Kamal. With Boucher gone, Pearn gone, and Muller either demoted to the AHL or taking an NHL coaching job (something he says he wants) elsewhere, that only leaves JM behind the bench. With Gautier in the front office, my expectations are awfully low for this team next season, and we're barely out of this one.

My fear is the coaching situation which seemed log jammed yesterday is now looking a lot like some leftover driftwood. I expect it to get worse, not better.

LOL! Yes, driftwood is definitely an excellent comparision to the present empty coaching bullpen.

My fear now, is that JM will reach back into his past to bring more old school coaches on board to be his assistant(s).

That could make things much worse, especially if Muller follows Pearn and Boucher out of town.

Have you read JT's blog? "The H Does NOT Stand for Habs"? I guess a lot of the success for the first 2 rounds was Muller. If he goes as well, this gets ugly fast. And the Habs might allow Muller to get some head coaching experience with the Bulldogs, but he's not French, so he'll never become heir apparent to Martin. We need him to resign as Martin's assistant to prevent the Habs tanking next year, but how feasible is that really when he wants to be a head coach and has said so openly?

She also has a great article on Pleky.

I fully expect Gautier/Martin puppets behind the bench next season. Who else are they gonna get?

Didn't see the blog post actually. Send me the link and I'll take a look.

I also fear that Muller is a bigger force back there than people think and that Martin will be an empty shell without him.

Ugly indeed.

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