Good News, Bad News for Montreal Canadiens' Fans on Guy Boucher

Kamal PanesarCorrespondent IJune 8, 2010

RIMOUSKI, QC - MAY 20:   Head Coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs Guy Boucher speaks to players during the game against the Rimouski Oceanic at the 2009 Mastercard Memorial Cup at the Rimouski Colisee on May 20, 2009 in Rimouski, Quebec, Canada.  The Voltigeurs defeated the Oceanic 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

In case you didn't hear yet, the Habs affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs' head coach, Guy Boucher, was offered and turned down the head coaching job for the Columbus Blue Jackets.


And in case you didn't hear yet, according to reports from Rue Frontenac and TSN, he subsequently accepted the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Guy Boucher, if you hadn't heard, has been the most sought after coach since his Hamilton Bulldogs were eliminated in Game Seven of their conference finals less than two weeks ago.

Having won gold with the Canadian World Juniors two seasons ago and, more importantly, taking an improbable Hamilton Bulldogs squad to within one game of the Calder Cup finals this year, Boucher's star had been rising for quite some time.

The murmurs throughout Habs nation this year had been that Boucher was exactly the type of coach that Montreal needed behind its bench.

Moreover, as the Habs struggled through an up-and-down season, Jacques Martin's "system" began looking more and more antiquated. As the inconsistency persisted, fans started getting more and more frustrated that Martin had a four-year contract while the organization had a gem of a coach in Boucher sitting in the AHL.

As twisted as it might sound, many were hoping for an early first round playoff exit by the Habs, followed by the firing of Martin and the potential promotion of Boucher.

Well, as of this morning, that dream has evaporated.

Tampa now becomes the benefactor of a great hockey mind in Steve Yzerman whose team will be coached by the youngest and most educated coach in the NHL—Boucher is 38 and has a degree in sports psychology.

I have to admit that I would have loved to see Boucher behind the Habs' bench, even as an assistant, as he is part of a new generation of coaches who work the intangible side of hockey as much as the tangible.

If there is one thing that Boucher was known for it was his ability to help young players get their heads screwed on straight.

It remains to be seen how successful Boucher will be in the NHL, but if he was able to help Sergei Kostitsyn change his thinking at the beginning of the year, he should be able to get Vincent Lecavalier back near the 90+ point range.

So while the talk recently has been about the poor first round draft picks the Habs have made over the last 10 years, the focus will now once again turn to coaching.

Despite the improbable run that the Canadiens went on during the playoffs, many if not most fans still believe that Coach Martin is the wrong man for the job. Many also believe the Pierre Gauthier is the wrong man for his job.

While the loss of Boucher is sure to continue to sour people on the Canadiens' management and coaching decisions I would say this: They had no choice but to let him go.

The Canadiens are not an organization that will stand in the way of someone's progress for selfish reasons. If they did not want Boucher to leave, they should have offered him a job in Montreal. Seeing as this was not what happened, the Habs rightfully granted teams the permission to speak with and hire Boucher.

As for the Habs tandem of Gauthier and Martin, I too am not the biggest fan of either man's track records to date. That being said, I am willing to give both the benefit of the doubt.

Let's see what they can do.

Despite Martin's spotty playoff history he somehow managed to take a terribly inconsistent team to within three games of the Stanley Cup final. That has to count for something.

Let's see what he does with a full year with the same core group under his belt. Let's see how he does without, hopefully, having to deal with the tremendous number of injuries to key players throughout the season. Let's see how he does without having to teach 23 players a new system.

As for Gauthier, this will be his first offseason as GM of the Habs, and there is no shortage of difficult and important decisions for him. So let's give him a chance to do his thing and, like Martin, we can judge his body of work after it has been performed and not before.

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