It’s been a long off-season, and finally things are going to heat up for us Habs fans.
I just wanted to kick off the season with a short little question that has been in the back of my mind for some time, but with Sergei Kostitsyn’s demand for a trade today, I now feel like I have to get this off my chest.
Mikhail Grabovski had a bad attitude and was sent packing. Sergei Kostitsyn clearly has attitude and work ethic problems, and has asked to be sent packing because he was asked to shape up in minors. His brother Andrei seems to fluctuate wildly in work ethic and attitude (though I think brother Sergei’s influence may have been half the problem there). Carey Price has had question marks raised about him, and if not for Gainey’s protecting him, who knows what where that would have went. Ditching a 5th overall draft pick would have raised hell around here. Alex Tanguay would not suit up for the team in the playoffs even though an injection in the foot would have taken care of the pain. Sure he didn’t want to worsen the injury and prevent himself from getting a contract, but all evidence points to the fact that his lack of courage and character cost him a long term contract. He had to settle for a 1 year deal with the Lightning, for half of what he was making last year.
Let’s continue the list shall we? Mike Ribeiro was said to have a bad attitude and work ethic in Montreal. Ditto for Kovalev, according to many. Even Jose Theodore seemed to be drinking his own Kool-Aid for a while as his game slipped to abyssmal levels. He was eventually and miraculously sent to Colorado with his albatross contract.
When Carbonneau was fired late last season, he eventually spoke up and said that the bad apples would be exposed. Gainey followed up by bringing back precisely ZERO of his free agents AND traded Chris Higgins. What does that say? Was the majority team out of control? It’s hard for me to think that guys like Koivu and Komisarek could not straighten a few of those guys out and right the ship.
I love Bob Gainey as much as the next guy, maybe even more. I have a lot of faith in him. But how, on his watch, are all of these bad seeds infiltrating the organization? Or even worse, becoming bad seeds once they’ve found their way in? Gainey is one of the great character players of all time. He HAS to know good character and professionalism when he’s in the presence of it. Doesn’t he?
So what’s going on? Do they blindly sign guys up on the 7th floor of the Bell Center and hope that once they pull on the crest of the CH, they’ll be overcome by some mystical spell that will drive them to be quality professionals and good little soldiers? Clearly that has not been the case.
If one was not in place, there should be one now. The Habs need a program of mentoring and coaching that teaches young guys (and the veterans as needed) how to behave as a pro hockey player, in a city like Montreal that has many distractions. I’ve always admired how Mario Lemieux opened up his home to Sidney Crosby. Of course Crosby can afford his own home. Maybe even nicer than Mario’s. The point is that by being with “the boss” (who was a pretty good player who knew how to win), Crosby would learn through osmosis how to carry himself. Why, in a city like Montreal, do the Habs not have this sort of system?
This has gone on longer than I intended to, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. What happened that guys with crappy attitudes not only infiltrated the dressing room, but may have passed their crappy attitudes to others? If moving out guys like Ribeiro and Theodore was the organization’s way of dealing with bad apples, why do they continue to occur?
My best stab at this is that Gainey allowed the coaches the leeway to take care of the culture of the dressing room. The problem is they were always inexperienced coaching staffs. Here’s hoping that the new coaching staff led by Jacques Martin goes a long, long way in fixing the problems that persist.
Rick is the Editor-in-Chief, lead contributor, and owner of the All Habs network of websites. His mission is to build a community of Canadiens fans who are informed, engaged and connected. He is the vision behind all four sites within the network - All Habs, Habs Tweetup, We Are Canadiens, and The Montreal Forum - and is responsible for the design and layout of each.
In concert with the strong belief that "Habs fans are everywhere!", Rick is pleased that people use All Habs as a conduit to find and connect with other Habs fans worldwide. He is also proud that Habs Tweetups have allowed fans to meet in person and develop long lasting friendships.