Montreal Roundup: Habs Fire Six Scouts, Columbus Speaks to Boucher

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IMay 31, 2010

MONTREAL, QC - 2007:  Pierre Gauthier of the Montreal Canadiens poses for his 2007 NHL headshot at photo day in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Getty Images)
Getty Images/Getty Images

It has been about a week since the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, and things have already started percolating in their offseason.

News surfaced a few days ago that the Habs brass had given the Columbus Blue Jackets permission to speak with highly touted Hamilton Bulldogs' head coach, Guy Boucher.

Boucher, if you didn't know, is the wundercoach who took the Canadian Juniors to the gold medal during last year's World Junior Championship.

He is also the guy who was appointed head coach of the Habs' AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs, last summer.

During his first year in Hamilton, Boucher led the Bulldogs to a second place finish with a 52-17-3-8 record, good enough for 115 points. In addition, Boucher was credited with being a master at the psychological end of coaching; helping disgruntled players like Sergei Kostitsyn regain their footing.

With screams for Jacques Martin's head all season long from the fanbase, many people were hoping that Boucher would be the one brought in to take over the reigns.

As unlikely as Martin's possible dismissal was before the playoffs, after the Habs excellent run it is safe to say that he isn't going anywhere!

Boucher, on the other hand, if not snatched up by the Jackets will surely find himself in the NHL in the not too distant future, but it is very unlikely it will be with the Canadiens.

He is a talented, up and coming coach, who has a track record of success. Plus, once the right opportunity presents itself, he is as good as gone.

The Canadiens, to the contrary, have three more years on Jacques Martin's contract and Boucher is sure to be gone before it's up.

And good for him.

Getting to the NHL, in any capacity, is about excelling, working your butt off and making the most of your chance when you get it. It would be wrong of the Canadiens to try to protect the asset that Boucher is by denying other teams the right to speak with him.

So, while he might be a great fit for the Habs and could possibly do a great job working with the likes of Benoit Pouliot and P.K. Subban, when his time comes the Habs will rightfully let him walk.

Trouble in the Hen House
According to Tony Marinaro of the Team 990, the Canadiens today fired six members of their scouting department—five amateur scouts and one professional.

The list of dismissed scouts is as follows: Dave Mayville, Denis Morel, Pelle Eklund—no not the guy from—Nikolai Varoutov and pro scout Gordie Roberts.

While the timing of the firings is a little surprising given that the Habs open their development camp tomorrow in Brossard and that the entry draft is about three weeks away, it is a reflection that the Habs brass was not happy with their drafting results.

While these six members were singled out, there is no question that this is an indictment of the Canadiens draft track record.

As Marinaro pointed out on the Team 990 today, the Habs greatest failing is in their first round pick: Carey Price, Andrei Kostitsyn, Max Pacorietty, David Fischer, Kyle Chipchura, Chris Higgins, Alexander Perezhogin and Ron Hainsey.

While some of the players mentioned above still have time to develop and become impact players, there is no question that Andrei Kostitsyn, Chris Higgins and Kyle Chipchura have not worked out.

The Habs couldn't get Hainsey working hard enough, Perezhogin ran off to Russia, Fischer has not progressed as expected and Chipchura was a bust.

In later rounds, the Habs have done a pretty good job finding players like Sergei Kostitsyn, Michael Ryder, Andrei Markov, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan O'Byrne, P.K. Subban and Maxim Lapierre who range anywhere from being serviceable to elite.

In moving five amateur scouts out today, Gauthier is admitting that. Moreover, I believe that while Trevor Timmin's job as head scout is probably still secure, if the scouting continues to slip, he could find himself in the unemployment line too.

I wonder how long Gauthier had planned to make these moves and if this was something he wanted to do to make his mark on the team.

Aside from bringing in Dominic Moore at the trade deadline, Gauthier has not had a chance to do much.

Now, however, Gauthier enters his first offseason at the head of the team and will get a chance to put his stamp on the team.

In many of ways, I find it appropriate that he is first looking to make changes internally before making them in his player lineup. I like it. Get your house in order before making player decisions.

And there will be no shortage of difficult choices for Gauthier this summer with pending UFA Tomas Plekanec, RFA's Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price, the Habs limited cap space and their desperate need for size up front.

If today is a move in anything, it is a step in the right direction. Let's hope that Gauthier's subsequent moves continue that trend.

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