As the Montreal Canadiens season comes to a close I thought it would be fitting to look back at what was one of the worst seasons in franchise history. The Canadiens struggled hard off the get go which lead to the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn. They continued to struggle so Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier decided to fire head coach Jacques Martin in hopes of turning the Canadiens season around so that he could save his own job. This is one of many mistakes that Gauthier made this season that has resulted in the Canadiens not only missing the playoffs but they finish last in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1940.
The firing of Pearn and Martin wasn’t enough for Gauthier. He then traded Mike Cammalleri in the middle of the Canadiens game against the Boston Bruins. Cammalleri was informed during the 2nd intermission and he was not allowed to return to finish the game. He was told that he was traded back to the Calgary Flames in return for Rene Bourque. Let’s have a quick look at who got the better deal here. Rene Bourque has just 5 goals and 3 assists in 37 games with the Canadiens this season and Mike Cammalleri has 11 goals and 7 assists in 27 games with the Flames. Obviously Calgary got the better deal. Gauthier’s reasoning for the trade was that the team needed someone to get those “tough” goals. well Rene Bourque doesn’t seem to be getting any goals. 5 goals in a season is almost as bad as Scott Gomez’s 2 goal season. Gomez is a player that the Canadiens will be stuck with until the end of his contract. Did I mention that Gomez is being paid $7.35 million per year for doing basically nothing as a hockey player? We have to put up with him until his contract expires at the end of 2013-14 season. Oh I forgot to mention that it was former general manager Bob Gainey (Pierre Gauthier’s Special Advisor) that signed Gomez to this ridiculous contract that we all now have to suffer through.
So obviously the Canadiens struggles continue on under the guidance of newly acquired head coach Randy Cunneyworth. Who I might add does not speak French which caused more controversy in Montreal. Although Cunneyworth said he will learn to speak French I think his coaching career in Montreal will likely end very soon. And that just about brings us to the trade deadline. Gauthier traded Hal Gill to the Nashville Predators just days before the trade deadline. I have to admit I am not a huge Hal Gill fan but when you have an already diminished defense YOU DON’T TRADE AWAY A DEFENSEMAN! The Canadiens were already down defenseman Andrei Markov. But don’t worry they have acquired Tomas Kaberle from the Caroline Hurricanes. Kaberle is what I consider one of the biggest mistakes made this season. He is signed with the Canadiens until 2013-14 and he was supposed to be a huge asset on the powerplay, well guess what? He had 1 powerplay goal this season. Good job Gauthier!!
On trade deadline day Gauthier traded Andrei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators for a draft pick. Kostitsyn had 12 goals and 12 assists with the Canadiens until that point which is a hell of a lot better than other players on the Canadiens team. So let’s recap: Hal Gill is now in Nashville and Andrei Kostitsyn is also in Nashville and guess who’s in the playoffs right now? NASHVILLE
After all this turmoil in Montreal, Geoff Molson (Montreal Canadiens owner and president) finally makes the announcement we have all been waiting for. GM Pierre Gauthier has been FIRED along with Special Advisor Bob Gainey. I firmly believe that Gauthier purposely tried to dismantle the Canadiens organization piece-by-piece. He obviously knew his days as general manager were numbered so he tore the team apart and stomped on the hopes of all Canadien fans around the world. As you can see Gauthier should have never been appointed general manager of the Montreal Canadiens and now it will be up to Geoff Molson and Serge Savard to find a replacement. In so many circumstances we find ourselves talking about the big shoes that need to be filled well in this case ANYONE is going to be better than Gauthier. Molson just needs to find someone that can get the team back on track so that we don’t have to suffer through another disgraceful season next year. It’s bad enough not making the playoffs but finishing behind the Toronto Maple Leafs is just unacceptable. All we can do now is look forward to the next season and new beginnings.