Friday, December 3

What the Puck: Canadiens’ change must start with a new head coach

Things are going from bad to worse for Canadians and management must act. The first thing to do is fire trainer Dominique Ducharme.

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The Canadiens management is treating the team’s fans with utter contempt.

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The Habs are one of the worst teams in the NHL. They’re 30th in the 32-team league, but it’s not even just the points. I had the misfortune to see the 6-3 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and the Habs made a good personification of a team that didn’t even want to win the game.

When almost all the players on the team suck eggs, as was the case in Washington, something is very wrong in that room. However, general manager Marc Bergevin said a few days ago that they are staying the course, that no radical changes are coming.

I’d tell you what President Geoff Molson has to say about all of this, but he’s still hiding under his desk, where he’s spent most of the last two years. Your team is collapsing apocalyptically and you can’t take five minutes to make your way to Habs Nation? That is not treating the team’s fan base with respect, the ordinary workers who pay their salary.

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Molson and Bergevin may care, but it sure seems like they don’t care one bit about the pain they’re causing the people who love this team so much. If they cared, they would do something.

If they cared, they would fire head coach Dominique Ducharme. I spoke with the esteemed sports scribe Roy MacGregor last week and we had a short talk about the Habs. The first thing MacGregor said is that Ducharme’s body language is terrible, that he seems to have lost his room.

It looks like this because it has lost the room. These players have lost respect for their rookie head coach, who has a lousy regular season record of 20-30-11. He was the coach when they reached the final of the Stanley Cup, but now it is clear that they did not reach the final because of him.

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They made it to the final because Carey Price played like never before, Shea Weber took the team under his iron grip, Corey Perry provided a lot of inspiration and the group melted in a magical way.

Ducharme has to go, but Molson won’t let Bergevin fire him because the general manager made the mistake of signing him this summer to a three-year contract. They are still paying Claude Julien $ 5 million this season and it turns out that firing Julien and replacing him with Ducharme was a huge mistake.

The elephant in the room is the unwritten rule that the coach has to speak French. I have the thinking behind that, although I relish the rich irony that the guy who is the hardest line to push the agenda that coach and The GM be bilingual is a guy who lives in Upper Westmount and is a member of one of the richest and most famous Anglo families in Montreal.

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I think French-speaking Quebecers would accept a unilingual English-speaking coach Yes turned the team into a contender and He immediately began to make serious efforts to learn French. Air Canada boss Michael Rousseau is the model for disdainful Anglo-Saxons who don’t think they need to speak the language of the majority. That is so wrong.

But anyone can learn a second language. So why can’t the Canadiens coach learn French?

But forget about the politics of language. Go find a Francophone coach. Anyone would do a better job than showering. What boggles the mind is that they had a good Francophone coach, Joel Bouchard, who is great with young players, and they let him go. While we’re on the topic of letting go of the good A-list French-speaking talents, they also had Julien BriseBois, who just won two Stanley Cups with Tampa, and they let him go. Why? Because they have Bergevin, the general manager who is sitting idly by with his boss while his team is on fire.

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Rather than planning ahead, they’re not just destroying the team, they’re potentially hurting their two best young players, Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. They gave Suzuki a huge contract and named him the number one center too soon. He’s a good player, but he’s nowhere near ready to be the number one center.

And instead of making a coherent plan for Caufield, a natural scorer, they started him with the great team, sent him to the minors and called him. He still looks lost, even if he finally scored his first goal of the season on Wednesday.

There is simply no way to think about executive suites. When cash flow is the top priority, you spend a tremendous amount of time worrying about language policy and the PR spin. And hockey comes to a distant third place.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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