Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey recently decided it was time for a change at the head coaching position after going 5-4-1 in the last 10 games.
Those 10 games were not that bad, were they? Of those five wins, four of them were basically stolen by goalie Jaroslav Halak making 40+ saves every time.
So, what went so wrong after a good start to the season for ousted coach Guy Carbonneau and his team?
Well, there is the fact that 12 players are on the last year of their contracts, and once the agent calls and tells the player that maybe he should slow down because he does not have a contract for next season, things change a little.
The players finds out that if he gets injured, he won't get a lot of insurance money. Once the player looks at how much the condo costs, how fast the wife or girlfriend is loading up the credit cards, and how much the car and other fun things cost, they are not too happy.
So players slow down and don't play as hard.
Also, there were all those stories of the ice with the Kostitsyns, Hamrlik, and the famous ankle injury to Carey Price, an injury that I am still trying to find on any game tapes. Add to that the craziness of media outlets following this team and you get yourself a nice big melting pot.
Now those are great problems, but they might not be what turned the dressing room against a coach.
Carey Price, was horrible in Edmonton giving up seven goals and looking very shaky. He has underperformed since then, with the exception of the last game vs. Dallas. He is from British Columbia, yet Carbonneau elected to start Jaroslav Halak instead of almost-hometown boy Price, who had 30 friends or family members in attendance at the game.
Trailing 4-2 in the middle of the third period, Carbo decided to pull Halak and put Price in goal, a move that did not sit too well with the team.
Players believed that they could still come back and win this game with Halak, who had just made 46 saves against the Kings for a win.
Why put Price in net? 'Cause his family is there? 'Cause he deserves it?
He did not deserve it. You are supposed to play the masked man who gives you the best chance to win. So that worked against Carbonneau.
The Kovalev incident as well might have caused him to be on the outs. When your GM has to step in and pull a veteran player like Kovalev from the lineup, it is a sign that the communication between player and coach is not good.
Playing third- and fourth-line players on the power play or in the last two minutes of a 4-on-4 overtime confused and frustrated some players. Imagine if you are a top forward and you see a guy like Maxime Lapierre on the power play. What do you think?
A little frustration starts to grow.
On the other hand, the guy playing on the third line is going absolutely nuts with his increased playing time. Yet when this player goes back into his role of hard-working blue-collar player, he goes into a down mode.
Again, more frustration settles in, and not a single player is happy. Players playing in the wrong places, not where their strengths are, can cause friction.
Bad decisions, players being frustrated, lack of consistency and a lack of results cost Carbonneau his job.
The 100th season of the Montreal Canadiens hangs on the shoulder of the players, but even more on Gainey's shoulders now.
It hangs a lot on young, shaky, unstable goalie Carey Price.
Good luck, Guy, and even more luck to Bob Gainey, because if this team misses the playoffs, it will be a very ugly offseason in Montreal.
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