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03-07-2009, 09:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Nashy View Post
I'm a Gainey supporter, but if they don't make the playoffs this year, that's an epic fail that should be laid at his feet.

This is the team he built with the coach he picked, no excuses.
I am not a knee-jerk complainer, and I don't panic over a defeat here and there, nor even an occasional slump. However, I have been thinking for about three weeks about what I would say if I have Bob Gainey's ear.

I think it is more than fair to state that Gainey has brought the organization light-years forward compared to where it was in 2003 when he came in. There is talent all over the place, both in Montreal and Hamilton, and even in the Junior ranks.

I like the fact that at the end of last year, despite the club finishing first overall in the East, Bob did not stand pat. He addressed what he saw as two needs, bringing in a big body centreman with some offensive potential, Robert Lang when Mats Sundin didn't happen, and some additional toughness in Georges Laraque. When the Laraque signing looked like it wasn't working out, he brought up Gregory Stewart, and even before that, he promoted Max Pacioretty, who is clearly not afraid to bump and get his nose dirty.

On the attack, he hedged against a possible decrease in production from Alex Kovalev by bringing in Alex Tanguay. And if letting Mark Streit go was an error, I think he mostly repaired it by fetching Mathieu Schneider.

All in all, on the player personnel front, I think Bob did his job.

Now, it is the coach's job to take what the GM gives him and get the best out of the group. Here is where Bob now has a tough decision. How to evaluate the coaching staff? Is the coach's system faulty? Well, despite what many here keep saying, I don't think it is. The same system worked much better last year, and in fact the same system is used by most NHL teams. It can't be all bad.

Is the team's troubles a fault of execution? To a large degree, yes. The players are not executing the system well enough, often enough. Whose job is it to get the best of the players again? The coaching staff.

Is the team right now capable of being a playoff team? Yes, the capability is there. Is it virtually certain that the coaches and players will achieve this goal? FAR from certain. Well, this is simply not acceptable.

I think Bob has no choice but to make a major decision on the coaching issue. Either he works with Guy every day to make him a better coach while leaving him in charge, or he brings someone else in, late in the season, or he takes on the head coach job himself. Incidentally, whatever he does, I think he needs to hire a DEFENCEMAN coach, like many teams have and the Habs themselves USED to have.

Personally, I think the idea of working through Guy is very risky; there is still the problem that communication and teambuilding is the weakness, not the system itself. Bringing someone in at this time, whether Bob Hartley or Pat Quinn or another veteran currently on the shelf, could be hard to get done. IMO, the best chance the club has to start winning again is under Head Coach Bob Gainey.

Next year, Bob can have someone new start in.

Like I said, this is not a knee-jerk reaction to one game or one week. I've been giving it a lot of thought.

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