Saturday, 17 December 2011

Firing Jacques Martin only part of Solution

For the record, let me state that I was never a big fan of Jacques Martin as the Habs' head coach. I found his system suffocating and brutal for any fan of the team to watch. I also didn't agree with his blind loyalty to under-performing veterans while showing a lack of patience with young players.

Do I think Martin is a bad coach? No, I don't. When you look at his overall record of wins and losses with the team he had in Montreal, you can't say he's terrible. You can say though, that he made a lot of questionable decisions as a coach and that his system hasn't been effective this season.

Having said all that, I was all for going in a new direction at head coach. However, this won't magically solve the bigger problem lying with the Montreal Canadiens.

The bigger problem is the notion that they MUST make the playoffs every season. That makes the job tough on any general manager looking to build a perennial cup contender. Look at Pierre Gauthier. Has he made a lot of head-scratching decisions? Of course. However when your job is on the line and if you don't make the playoffs, you're out, of course management is going to ignore future problems and reach the playoffs right now.

Judging from what I've seen from Geoff Molson thus far, he's looking at making the money back that he spent when he bought the Canadiens, which was over $500 million. The way he'll make the money back is if the team's in the playoffs every year. That's a lot of pressure to put on management to make it every year to the dance, even if it's as a 7th or 8th seed.

The truth is, things have to get worse before they get better in Montreal. The organization needs to change it's philosophy and be patient with its young players and build around them. The priority for the Habs should be locking up their blue chip players for the future. Locking up Carey Price, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty should be the priority, but instead they're only thinking up until April and not thinking 3-5 years down the road.

The best trade the Habs have made in the last decade was not giving up youth and draft picks for a veteran; it was the opposite. The organization's best trade was trading Craig Rivet to the Sharks for a youngster named Josh Gorges and a 1st round pick that turned out to be Max Pacioretty. Obviously that took a stroke of luck as well, but it's a prime example of thinking ahead, and now you can make the argument that Pacioretty is the team's best forward and Gorges is the best defenceman.

Again, for the Habs to truly be a cup contender, they need the right personnel. They don't have it, due to constantly overlooking the future to salvage a single season. That philosophy hasn't worked and won't ever work.

Look at the Edmonton Oilers. As a Canadiens fan, which team would you rather have? Habs will probably make the playoffs this year, the Oilers may not. But since Edmonton has been patient and built from within, and have been terrible for a few years, they've locked up the best prospects. They're going to be a scary team soon and are already a thrill to watch.

So in essence, I believe the Canadiens took a step in the right direction today, but there are many steps to go before this team raises number 25.

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