Montreal Canadiens: 5 Blunders Made by General Manager Pierre Gauthier
What we have seen today was just atrocious. Pierre Gauthier, despite having a good track record, has me questioning his mental faculties due to his mistakes.
Since his tenure as Montreal Canadiens GM started, he changed the whole outlook of the organization from a playoff squad, despite their size, into a contender for the first-round draft pick.
Gauthier has carte blanche from Geoff Molson and has used it to drive this team to the ground in a rather speedy manner.
Here are five mistakes that Pierre Gauthier has made that clearly damaged the Montreal Canadiens.
Firing Jacques Martin
In my mind, Jacques Martin is one of the best coaches in the NHL. He played a system that worked even with slumping players, such as Scott Gomez, a goalie controversy when Jaroslav Halak was around and and battered defense corps that was maligned with significant injuries to Andrei Markov, Jaroslav Spacek and Josh Georges. His system was also ridiculously efficient with a group of very small forwards.
Forget everything I said above.
Jacques Martin was the best francophone coach in the NHL. Despite the rut his team is stuck in, Martin has an excellent playoff record with half the team of Claude Julien and Alain Vingeault.
When Martin was fired, all hell broke loose in Montréal. Instead of hiring a francophone coach, he gives the nod to Randy Cunneyworth that, despite being a good coach, was part of the Jacques Martin's bench, thus, not changing absolutely anything with it.
Again, forget everything I just said.
Cunneyworth does not speak French. As a Quebecois, Gauthier had to know what would happen if anglophone coach was brought to be at the helm of the Canadiens would do.
It had been a more proven coach, I think the people in Quebec would at least give the guy a shot but, Cunneyworth is a rookie coach who was thrown into the fire.
Trading for Tomas Kaberle
Really, this one was has to be one of the worst trades in the decades. There is nothing else to add.
Gauthier gave up Jaroslav Spacek, a guy who, despite being frequently injured, had been extremely good for them. If not for the stellar performance of Jaroslav Halak, Hal Gill, and Jaroslav Spacek at the back end, the Canadiens would have left in the first round of the playoffs in their mythical conference finals run.
Even in Toronto, Kaberle was a pretty awful player for the last three years. Brian Burke got tired of his lack of production and traded him to Boston. After only 13 points in the post-season, despite a Stanley Cup, Peter Chiarelli said bye-bye and left him to free agency.
When Kaberle was signed by a ridiculous sum in Carolina, everyone was dumbfounded. When Pierre Gauthier traded for him? We were all caught with our pants down.
This move is utterly inexplicable. If the Canadiens need a puck-moving defenseman who quarterbacks the power play, why in the world would you go to Tomas Kaberle?
Even worse, for a team that has always been pretty much up against the cap, why would you go for such a hefty contract as Kaberle has?
Pierre Gauthier has successfully joined the two worst contracts in the NHL in one roster with Kaberle and Scott Gomez.
Well done. This makes the signing of Ville Leino by Buffalo a genius play by Darcy Regier. Well done, Monsieur Gauthier.
The Jaroslav Halak Trade
Jaroslav Halak had, in one playoff run, successfully established himself as the cult hero in the NHL. A shaky season sharing the net with Carey Price, during which in most time he was the not the favorite one, was capped by the unexpected playoff performances by a goaltender in the post-lockout era.
We know that Carey Price was the top prospect in net at the time and has been playing great in the past two seasons but, trading him the star of the playoffs for two prospects?
Nothing against Lars Eller but, star goaltenders are the single most difficult type of players to find, either via trade or through free agency and you only get two prospects from him? It is amazing that he couldn't find a better offer.
How do you ship off the best Cinderella story in the post-lockout era for two prospects and be content with it?
As David, after his dentist appointment, said, "Is this real life?"
The Signing of Andrei Markov
Who would pay $5.7 million a year to a guy that has played one full season in his whole career and that in the last two years has only played 52 games? The genius Pierre Gauthier will.
Granted, Andrei Markov can be a really good player when he's healthy, but, the above-mentioned history is more than a simple turn-off.
With the signing of Markov at this cap hit, as brittle and old as he is, Gauthier managed to build two and get the other one to have the three worst contracts in the NHL.
The Michael Cammalleri Debacle
When François Gagnon broke out what Michael Cammalleri said to him after the press scrum, he had absolutely no idea that the apocalypse would follow.
Lets analyze this. Michael Cammalleri was a marquee free agent that chose to go to Montreal to begin with. He has been lights out for the Canadiens in the playoffs, being in integral part of that mythical run that had Jaroslav Halak at its helm.
Granted, this season, like the rest of the team, he was pretty awful.
The good players get frustrated when they are slumping, and things get even worse when the team is doing as bad as the Canadiens.
Michael Cammalleri was the Montreal superstar, and what he said was nothing that we didn't already know but, the guy at least deserved a little more respect from an organization he kept alive for the last two years.
Taking a guy off the ice with most of the game played only to tell him that he had been traded is no way to treat your superstar.
Thumbs up for Pierre Gauthier for ruining this organization's image to every single other possible marquee free agent who might ever want to go to Montréal.
Lets face it. The reign of terror of Pierre Gauthier is far from over and things can go a lot more south than they are right now.
He follows the list of recent GMs who have not been able to make the Canadiens a Stanley Cup contender for the since the times of Patrick Roy.
This article outlines only five errors committed by Pierre Gauthier, but I believe that many more were committed.