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Old
04-21-2009, 11:47 PM
  #1
Mike8
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Team Culture

Not giving up hope on this club for this playoff drive or anything, but it'll be interesting to see what this organization does moving forward.

Clearly, the culture of the club this season was miserable. I'm curious to see if management deems it to be responsible for the year's failure. By that I mean:

Everyone makes the assumption, spearheaded in part by an analyst I hold tremendous respect for (being Pierre McGuire), that Gainey's made a mistake having so many UFAs. That he was using this as a card to motivate his players. I disagree with this notion.

When Gainey did this in the past it was with Souray, Rivet and Markov. Everyone, McGuire included, felt Montreal was in big trouble. A month into the next season proved that sentiment wrong: Markov was retained, and the two others went on to have sub-par years in other cities. Rivet and Souray are both serviceable in their respective roles and I do appreciate their games, but not at that dollar. Gainey letting them go was a wise move; a move made having evaluated the three players and seeing who fit the culture of the club moving forward.

A similar situation occurs now in Montreal: who fits this team moving forward? Montreal's needs on a personnel level are less important than its needs culture wise.

...

So before I go any further, I'd like to define, or at least explore, what team culture is.

Team culture consists of an identity, but is not exclusive to that. It's a behaviour that captures the nucleus of the team. You see the way Koivu elevates his game in the playoffs to play a warrior style, less apparent in this year's playoffs but in evidence in sparks, such as the beginning of Period II in Game 2, where he was forechecking like a madman and going to the net. The playoffs are too physical for him to do this consistently, but Koivu can win periods through his warrior play. He can't win games, however.

Team culture also embraces style. Kovalev's east-west style, his puck possession game is part of his line's, and ought to be team's, culture. His ability to establish chemistry with Plekanec and Kostitsyn last season was an example of a culture being established and maintained for the duration of the season.

Koivu and Kovalev uphold a pride that transcends style or behaviour and that is the most important of components to a team's culture. My worry with Markov, for example, is that I do not see that within him. When the playoffs roll around, Markov has either flopped (earlier in his career) or been injured (playing or not). Perhaps this is an issue of him playing too many minutes down the stretch, but either way I worry about Markov and a team led by him (soon enough, Montreal will be led by Markov).

I believe this team needs to find its culture. Boston's mish-mashed a bunch of different styles and players into a fairly simple, up-and-down team. It's got talent, big bodies, and most importantly, discipline.

Detroit's a puck possession team with few egos and overwhelm the opposition with skill, top to bottom.

Anaheim plays all-out aggressive hockey, even in the absence of its goonsquad of years past. Philly plays aggressive hockey, even if you look at the individuals and see they're not all that big and tough.

So I suppose it's the team's identity, its style, along with the culture and pride in winning that I feel is absent on this team. That involves discipline, system, a coach which instills these factors, but also the personnel which is capable of embracing it.

One of the reasons I wound up liking Ribeiro after years of despising his antics was because he has that pride in winning. Even if he's morally obnoxious with his faking and writhing in pain on the ice, it was abundantly clear that he was passionate about winning. That passion seemed to be borne out of his need to feed his ego and out-skill opponents, but it made me believe that if he were to face up against Marc Savard, for example, he'd seek to out-skill him and raise his game in order to do so.

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04-22-2009, 12:24 AM
  #2
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Great post.

This team has no system, no style and no culture. That's the biggest problem.

I just want a veteran coach to place a distinct style. Like balls-out offense, or solid dump-and-chase or anything.

The players are mostly young, they'll adapt.

Re: Mickey Ribeiro

I am a huge fan of his. The fact that he has so much talent is the number one thing that matters in my opinion. He could be a whiney dirtbag for all I care, but at least he can elevate his game above anyone else on the ice for that last 30s where we NEED a goal.

It's beautiful.

We never had a star like that on offense since Damphousse...

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04-22-2009, 01:55 AM
  #3
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I really thought the habs were forming a red wing type identity with all the skilled players and their ability to possess the puck and make creative plays. I saw flashes of this identity especially early in the season.

However, the early part of the year was a mirage. As the all star break rolled around, the habs started handling the puck like a hot potato and they were no longer able to execute even the basic plays that are required to play a skilled game.

Then, as the playoffs started, it looks like the habs changed their identity again to show boston how tough they are.

Its been a real confusing season, but the habs have been at their best playing the skilled puck possession type of game that Detroit employs so well. Obviously, with all the potential turnaround, I dont know if they will have the horses to play this type of game next year, but I'm sure Gainey will make his moves based on an identity he wants to carve. He has the cap flexibility to do it.

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04-22-2009, 03:36 AM
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I think Schneider added a lot to this team. In fact, as strange as it is to say given Schneider's first go-round with the club, I think he adds a good amount of character; a winner's mentality.

If Schneider were retained next season and Weber were to make the club, then I'd say the team has the makings of a mobile blueline capable of catapulting a puck possession squad forward.

I'm still uncertain if I like the mental makeup of the team, and the culture of the team as a whole, but I like that foundation with Schneider on D.

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04-22-2009, 03:01 PM
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Joe Cole
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike8 View Post
One of the reasons I wound up liking Ribeiro after years of despising his antics was because he has that pride in winning. Even if he's morally obnoxious with his faking and writhing in pain on the ice, it was abundantly clear that he was passionate about winning. That passion seemed to be borne out of his need to feed his ego and out-skill opponents, but it made me believe that if he were to face up against Marc Savard, for example, he'd seek to out-skill him and raise his game in order to do so.
I thought your post was pretty good, but I cannot disagree more than your evaluation of Ribeiro having a passion for winning.

Ribeiro has shown me many things, but passion for winning is not one of them.

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04-22-2009, 03:10 PM
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I would love to see ANY type of system...defensive OR offensive! I just want the players to know what they are doing on the ice because it's frustrating to watch guys reacting to dump-ins rather than expecting them.

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04-22-2009, 03:10 PM
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Part of having alot of ufas may have been for motivation purposes but it also had to be for flexibility reasons as well.

A number of teams are stuck with untradeable contracts and very little room to make changes this summer.

On the other hand, the Habs are in a position to transform their roster as they see fit this summer, maybe going the youthful route, maybe bringing in some fresh faces from other teams.

Whether it is Gainey or someone else, they have an opportunity to set a new 'culture' going forward. Whatever happens, this summer should be very interesting.

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04-22-2009, 03:30 PM
  #8
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good post.

here's my very generalistic view of the culture of this team.

There is none.

Management has lost the confidence of the players. There is no "win at all costs" attitude as evidenced by their statement that they're not after the absolute best coach; they're after the best french/english speaking coach on a team that is multi cultural and speaks predominantly english. I do not buy into the must speak french notion. If the UN can have translators then so can the MTL Canadiens. Putting myself in a players shoes, how can i as a player perform to my best ability when i know that management has not given me the best tools to work with. There is a lack of motivation apparent here, and this may be one of the reasons.

The cultural aspect has to start from a team philosophy and direction from the top down. This philosphy has been overshadowed by a media papparazzi that has highjacked the daily operations of the team, so much so that it has indirectly shaped the current and future direction of the team. Whether it's chasing players/coaches/Gm's out of the city or the lack of superstar talent not coming here due to the percieved zoo, they are one of the major factors contributing to montreals troubles.

I believe that the most important first step that montreal needs is to severely restrict the media access. Make montreal a safe haven for stars to blossom and enjoy the city and rich culture and heritage and passion for hockey. Once the horrible media stereotype dissapates, only then will players start coming to mtl, or home grown boys wanting to play for the red,white,blue.

When Montreal is on a level playing field with the rest of the league in terms of getting star power will they be truly able to come up with a strong core and build from there. Until then i fear that it's going to be a continuous perpetuating cycle that will not stop unless immediate intervention occurs.

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04-22-2009, 03:44 PM
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What the Habs need are more character guys. Players that will block shots, not be scared to go in corners and not hesitate to drop the gloves to defend themselves and teammates. I was watching Calgary-Chicago the other night and both those teams players don't stand for any crap. It's time to say goodbye to this small-skilled style.

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04-22-2009, 03:45 PM
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The Habs should embrace the culture of keeping Markov healthy. Maybe even start a religion of Markov health.

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04-22-2009, 03:56 PM
  #11
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As always Mike8...great post

I also have alot of issues with McGuire, who I equally respect, repeating the issue about the UFA's.

I can't understand how anyone who has watched the Habs play this year, would be happy with those guys signed at the amount of money we thought it would cost 6 months ago.

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04-22-2009, 03:58 PM
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike8 View Post
I think Schneider added a lot to this team. In fact, as strange as it is to say given Schneider's first go-round with the club, I think he adds a good amount of character; a winner's mentality.

If Schneider were retained next season and Weber were to make the club, then I'd say the team has the makings of a mobile blueline capable of catapulting a puck possession squad forward.

I'm still uncertain if I like the mental makeup of the team, and the culture of the team as a whole, but I like that foundation with Schneider on D.
I like the idea but would like to kno what the plans are for graduating d men as well as possible Russian arrivals.

The problem McGuire has been hammering home, well, it exists though I'm sick of hearing it. Gainey got caught in between. The smoke being blown as far as the number of ufa's obscures that there are 4 real decisions. Tanguay,Koivu, Kovalev,Komo.

If any one of them was signed, or 2, the signal to the others could've worsened the situation, though, as it turned out....

All 4 have question marks,

Koivu, what does he have left
Kovy, is his heart in it
Komo $$$$
Tanguay, will he compete

None of them are snap decisons. So, bad situation, he did nothingf to help himself, but with the exception of maybe Komo, I believe his hands were tied.

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04-22-2009, 04:02 PM
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Yup. Our forwards are just a mish-mash of 12 players asked to play anywhere from the 1st to 4th lines. We have no system. Our players aren't being asked to perform specific roles within a system.

We have no style because we have every single type of player but we don't have lots of a certain type of player.

It's time we move in a certain direction with what we want to be but in order to do that we need a couple consistent top-tier players that embody that direction.

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04-22-2009, 04:13 PM
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I think Gainey's biggest mistake is not letting Price EARN his spot.

For some reason, Price is being treated like a Veteran and I feel that's a huge mistake.

We have two very capable goalies, we should use both not favor one.
That's what bothers me the most with Gainey.

Two years ago, Halak should have had the chance to bring us into the POs. He was put aside even if he was the only reason why we still had a change to begin with.
Last season, we barely gave him a chance.
This season, he proved more than once that he could carry us, most noticeably his 4 robberies in a row where he faced more than 40Shots a night (including a shutout). But for some reason, he still wasn't given the credit he deserved.

I really hope we don't lose this kid for nothing and see him blossom somewhere else.
That's what bothered me the most from Gainey.


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Old
04-22-2009, 04:29 PM
  #15
Roulin
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I like the idea but would like to kno what the plans are for graduating d men as well as possible Russian arrivals.
From info gleaned in the prospects thread, it looks like Emelin and Valentenko will be staying in Russia. I haven't heard anything about Korneev.

As far as North American prospects - I'd hate to see the same amount of rookies being broken in yet again. I really believe that was a serious problem with this year's team (although it was, somewhat, the result of injuries). Given that Weber and Subban are both right handed shots, and that both should play on the PP, I assume they will be competing for the rookie spot on the blue line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcphee View Post
The problem McGuire has been hammering home, well, it exists though I'm sick of hearing it. Gainey got caught in between. The smoke being blown as far as the number of ufa's obscures that there are 4 real decisions. Tanguay,Koivu, Kovalev,Komo.

If any one of them was signed, or 2, the signal to the others could've worsened the situation, though, as it turned out....

All 4 have question marks,

Koivu, what does he have left
Kovy, is his heart in it
Komo $$$$
Tanguay, will he compete

None of them are snap decisons. So, bad situation, he did nothingf to help himself, but with the exception of maybe Komo, I believe his hands were tied.
Well said, I agree with most of that.

But, is Tanguay really a question mark? I think he is a known quantity - a cerebral player, not intense, but efficient, in his prime. I dont think Gainey will have a hard time projecting what Tanguay is and isn't.

The toughest one, IMO, is Koivu. When will his production fall off a cliff? I don't think anyone knows for sure.

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04-22-2009, 04:31 PM
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Team toughness!!

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04-22-2009, 04:32 PM
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From info gleaned in the prospects thread, it looks like Emelin and Valentenko will be staying in Russia. I haven't heard anything about Korneev.

As far as North American prospects - I'd hate to see the same amount of rookies being broken in yet again. I really believe that was a serious problem with this year's team (although it was, somewhat, the result of injuries). Given that Weber and Subban are both right handed shots, and that both should play on the PP, I assume they will be competing for the rookie spot on the blue line.



Well said, I agree with most of that.

But, is Tanguay really a question mark? I think he is a known quantity - a cerebral player, not intense, but efficient, in his prime. I dont think Gainey will have a hard time projecting what Tanguay is and isn't.

The toughest one, IMO, is Koivu. When will his production fall off a cliff? I don't think anyone knows for sure.
well, while we are believing McGuire, he did state that Calgary players requested his departure last year. That has been out there, but I haven't ever seen it here. I don't know if it's true or whether it was planted with him for a reason, but the story was out there and never picked up here.

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04-22-2009, 04:38 PM
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I would love the Habs to be a team like the Flames. Tough players with skill.

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04-22-2009, 04:44 PM
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Nice opening post, nice thread idea.

My view : better players = better culture.

Give me today's equivalent of Lafleur, the big three on D and Dryden in nets, and we'll have a winning culture. Not a fair comparison, I know, but this year's team had such glaring weaknesses at center and on D that it's very difficult to establish a team identity, a "this is the way we do things around here" mentality.

Also, it has taken more time than I thought for Gainey to establish the "amélioration continue" mind-set he wishes for in his players.

Even then, if Gainey and his new coach do establish a team culture/identity, of course, the media would screw everything up anyway.

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04-22-2009, 04:59 PM
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Nice opening post, nice thread idea.

My view : better players = better culture.

Give me today's equivalent of Lafleur, the big three on D and Dryden in nets, and we'll have a winning culture. Not a fair comparison, I know, but this year's team had such glaring weaknesses at center and on D that it's very difficult to establish a team identity, a "this is the way we do things around here" mentality.

Also, it has taken more time than I thought for Gainey to establish the "amélioration continue" mind-set he wishes for in his players.

Even then, if Gainey and his new coach do establish a team culture/identity, of course, the media would screw everything up anyway.
I agree, but even more so is that the only identity this team seems to have had was a PP Specialist one, last year. To me, that's not a true identity.
I think the coaches over the last 3years did a horrible job at establishing a system that gave us a true identity. I won't put all the blame on them, Gainey should have found a better mix of players in his top6 instead of going with 6 similar styled players.

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04-22-2009, 05:04 PM
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all teams are copying the NJ Devils system, I wrote a post on the subject a couple of weeks ago.. Devils are a team that constantly revolutioned this game over the years, they adjusted to the new rules pretty quick as well.. Thats a team game concept based on speed, transition, they are playing great in unit of 5 supporting each other, they are working very hard on the details and they are disciplined.. The puck is moved quickly, north south, players always in movement ready to get a pass, anticipate plays, everyone know where their teammates are on the ice, where to be on the ice, the goal is to force turnovers all the game long.. Still its a team concept where everybody work hard on the details during practices.. Why about every teams in the league adjusted while we looked like a bunch of lost sheets for the most part this season? One could blame the coach, personally I think its a prob of leadership among the vets, some guys were just not willing to play this way and had BTW a bad influence on the kids.. The good news is that Kovalev is gone, so we should play way more structured hockey next year and everyone will have to push in the same direction, Im confident Gainey knows it pretty well and will sign or resign the right guys.. Outside the way Kovalev was playing in game 2 of the serie, trying to do all by himself, I think our team showed some positive in the playoffs, playing a way better team game but Gainey had only few days before the playoffs start to oil the machine, so it hasnt been enough, the Bruins are doing it since day 1 of the training camp..

To resume, playing a hard disciplined team game next year will be fine, but we have to have the right guys willing to work that way and with consistency to have some success.. Im not sure Koivu has the stamina anymore to answer those criterions but on a second or third line behind a guy like Lecavalier its maybe worth the try.. Bye bye Kovalev and Tanguay played rather on the soft side for the most part of the season, hard to evaluate properly in reason of his shoulder injury, will see how it goes..

On D, I really think Beauchemin is the solution to stabilize the core, he learnt with 2 of the actual best defensemen in the league, Niedermayer and Pronger.. Nieds is to me one of the greatest learder, one of the greatest competitor in the NHL history, unbelievable to watch him play in playoffs.. Anyway Beauchemin can do everything, play solid defensive coverage, he is physical, make you pay hard to gain the zone, doesnt give up the blueline easily, can move the puck, play the PP, has a hard shot.. He really is the Habs biggest mistake in the last 10 years or so, time to repair that mistake! Local french speaking guy as well dear Mike8 (talking about identity..)

Its time this team has a guideline, thats the most important thing, no more country club, time to act like professionals!


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04-22-2009, 06:23 PM
  #22
Mike8
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I thought your post was pretty good, but I cannot disagree more than your evaluation of Ribeiro having a passion for winning.

Ribeiro has shown me many things, but passion for winning is not one of them.
I don't disagree with you. I made many posts when Ribeiro was in Montreal claiming he was detrimental to the club. What I had intended to say was that Ribeiro's ego translates into a passion for winning. His passion seems to be his ego; to out-skill the opponent, and the only way to do that translates into wins for his team. It's an individual pride deal with him.

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04-22-2009, 06:36 PM
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I think the Habs could do a lot worse than model their culture after Andrei Markov: quiet, smart, not flashy, not much for the media glare, the big quote, or often the highlight reel play... but poised, smart, and amazingly, amazingly effective.

The Habs fans might never accept that though, they want flash. I'm glad they realize the importance of a player like Markov, but I think we need more players like him, not less. But with the way players are getting bashed for their style of play all over, I don't think we could ever accept a team like, say, the Red Wings, here.

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04-22-2009, 07:00 PM
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I think the Habs could do a lot worse than model their culture after Andrei Markov: quiet, smart, not flashy, not much for the media glare, the big quote, or often the highlight reel play... but poised, smart, and amazingly, amazingly effective.

The Habs fans might never accept that though, they want flash. I'm glad they realize the importance of a player like Markov, but I think we need more players like him, not less. But with the way players are getting bashed for their style of play all over, I don't think we could ever accept a team like, say, the Red Wings, here.
Has Markov proved to be a charactere guy so far in his carreer? Yes he is one of the best puckmovers in this league but he still has alot to prove when it really matters..

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04-22-2009, 07:05 PM
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Has Markov proved to be a charactere guy so far in his carreer? Yes he is one of the best puckmovers in this league but he still has alot to prove when it really matters..
See what I mean when I said the fans would never accept it?

The Red Wings were heavily doubted as playoff performers -- right until they won the Cup last year. In hindsight it was silly, but nobody ever mentions that anymore.

Character gets talked about a lot... but puck-moving defensemen win you a lot more playoff series.

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