Thursday, December 8, 2011

Habs Shakeup: Are Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin about to be Fired?

If you haven't heard by now, there is a story on The Fourth Period magazine's website stating that a clean sweep of the Montreal Canadiens management team could be imminent.

Here's the link:

The story cites "...three separate sources close to the team...", going on to say that Bob Gainey has been speaking with owner, Geoff Molson, about making some significant changes.

They also intimate that Habs ownership is seriously considering a shakeup that could affect both General Manager Pierre Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin.

So, in short, they are saying that Gainey and Molson are talking about firing both Gauthier and Martin.

Interestingly, they even name a few possible replacements:

"It's unclear, at this point, whom the Habs are seriously considering to replace Martin, or Gauthier, despite speculation suggesting the likes of Patrick Roy, Gerard Gallant and Randy Carlyle could come in behind the bench, while Red Wings VP and assistant GM Jim Nill could become a candidate to replace Gauthier."

For those of you unfamiliar with The Fourth Period and David Pagnotta (founder and the guy who broke the story on TSN 990 today), both have solid reputations. They are not a rumour mongering magazine or site and tend to be pretty plugged-in to the NHL scene.

That being said, I am a little leery of a story coming from the Fourth Period that somehow escaped all the eminently capable and connected media-types that follow this team on a daily basis.

That doesn't mean the story is false, mind you, just that it's surprising to see a magazine that tends not to be a source on the Habs, having the info first.

So, veracity of the information aside, this piece brings up several interesting tidbits.

Molson's Call

La Presse's Francois Gagnon had a conversation with Geoff Molson just this week, in which Molson gave a vote of confidence to Gauthier, Martin and even Scott Gomez! Now, if the shakeup goes through, it wouldn't be the first time an owner has publicly given a vote of confidence only to turn around and fire everyone.

That being said, when speaking with a journalist who is asking him about his coach and GM, what do you expect him to say? That he thinks the GM isn't creative and that the coach is old-school and doesn't understand the modern game?


Molson said what he had to say and now all that's left is to find out if he meant it or not.

What I find most interesting about the story is that they are saying the Bob Gainey is involved in the process, and working with Molson. I find that interesting since Gainey is the one who brought in both Gauthier and Martin.

Not to mention he was the one who fired Claude Julien, hired guy Carbonneau and then fired him too—before bringing on the current regime.

So, at least in my books, Gainey is as big a part of the problem as Gauthier and Martin. Let's not forget that Gainey is the one who was sitting in the driver's seat when Gomez became part of this team.

So what's really happening?

The Fourth Period's Pagnotta took to twitter shortly after his on-air interview with Tony Marinaro, stating that "To clarify folks, as I told @TonyMarinaro on @TSN990Radio, doesn't mean something's happening today. MTL's simply weighing options right now."

Makes sense to me.

What is surprising, again, is that this info is out there at all, since the Habs tend to have a lockdown on the media. Information just doesn't get leaked with the Canadiens unless something is imminent.

But I guess there's a first time for everything!

The bottom line is that, as owner of the team, Molson would be a fool not to be exploring options right now. That doesn't mean that he will or even has to act on them. But to sit back and watch the team floundering without covering all his bases would be negligent.

Molson claimed, when he came on board, to be a fan of the team and to want to bring the glory back. I, for one, believed him and still do.

That being said, Molson's relatively new tenure as owner is being tested right now. Does he actually care? Will he do whatever needs to be done to make this team a winner? Or, like many are saying, does he only care about the dollars and cents?

If the latter is true, then the Canadiens have never been on a truer path to becoming Harold Ballard's Leafs.

If not, however, and Molson is a man of his word, then there is nothing but a world of options for him and the team. All that's needed is a little house cleaning to start things off.

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on and featured columnist on Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at

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(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)


Just changing the coach and GM won't fix this team's woes or make them contenders, though it will likely buy some good will with the fanbase in general at this point. If Bell does indeed go to bed with Rogers and buy the Leafs, that is just going to be another huge headache for Molson.

What is priority #1 is a change of philosophy. Not a simple system change or replacing this or that player. We need an outright change throughout the organization.

It has to start with not having to hire someone who is francophone. Why limit yourself of talent just for language. If thebest candidate is french then that is a bonus and hire him but if the best candidate is Anglo, he should be the priority.

Second is we need a change of the philosphy of play. Passive resistance, the trap, this is not our strong suit. We have offensive players like Gomez, Cammalleri, Subban, Cole, Weber, Diaz, etc....let them lose and let's see what they have. Our system is too restrictive on their abilities.

I've said it many time that we hired a coach and then went out and signed a whole bunch of players that don;t fit the style of play.

Finally we need a philosophy change in the actual players. Enough of these small speedy wingers, defensemen or offensive rookies on the 4th line. Let's build a line that can skate but more importantly will hit, will stick up for teammates and create momentum much like Emelin does for the crowd.

Our team is boring and the fans have absolutely nothing to react to.

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