What's wrong in Montreal?
Montreal is off to a slow start, but has won two games in a row. (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)
What's wrong in Montreal?
It’s Friday. It’s the mailbag. You know the deal by now. Thanks for your submissions.
Adam, it seems Montreal has several problems. I see the last two nights their play seems to have greatly improved. Was firing assistant coach Perry Pearn a wakeup call? Are these players not professionals? Many nights I see the effort level lacking. Management seems to be at fault also, letting go several coaching hopefuls. I find this very disturbing. Does the organization need a guide dog to wake up? What is the answer? William Smith, Saskatoon, Sask.
William, As always in hockey-mad markets, things aren’t usually as positive or negative as they seem. That’s true with the Canadiens so far this season. Like last year, they’ve been forced to play without some significant components of their team thanks to injuries. But unlike last year, goalie Carey Price hasn’t been superhuman. I still think they’ll be in the hunt for a low playoff seed, but they’ve dug themselves a decent-sized hole to climb out from.
To answer your specific questions: no, I don’t think Pearn was the issue. The words “sacrificial” and “lamb” come to mind with his situation. Remember, there was a minor trade made prior to Pearn’s sudden dismissal. Was that part of the “wakeup call?” It’s impossible to say with certainty.
And no, I don’t think GM Pierre Gauthier and coach Jacques Martin are incompetent, although their outward appearance suggests the need for a series of pulse checks at regular intervals. The problem for them is the natural course of events in a management team’s life; you only get so many years and games before your mistakes and lack of Stanley Cup-winning success are the only things that stand out in the minds of fans and media.
Now, Gauthier hasn’t been in his current role for very long (he’ll celebrate his two-year anniversary in early February), but he is perceived as being part of the Bob Gainey regime - and more importantly, the Habs are closing in on two decades without an NHL championship. That’s why the natives are making crude tools out of blunt objects and getting more restless by the day. Is that completely fair to Gauthier? No, but that’s professional sports.
Hi Adam. Are all NHL regulars sponsored by equipment companies, and for those that are, who pays for their gear like sticks (which break so often), skates, helmets, etc? We were just wondering from our couch as we watch the Saturday matinee games.
Cheers. Victoria Tait, Vancouver
Hi Victoria, No, not every NHLer has an endorsement deal with equipment manufacturers. The cream of the crop certainly do, but most pluggers, grinders and seventh defensemen can only dream about it like the rest of us. But players aren’t paying out of their own pocket for their gear; it is paid for by their teams.
Adam, this is a question about the THN Power Rankings, actually more nitpicking really. As a Leaf fan I have to concede my bias when it comes to most things Leafs, but I'm having trouble understanding why the Leafs are this week ranked 11th. They are behind teams like Chicago, Buffalo, Vancouver and Philadelphia, all of whom have records that are worse than Toronto's, and L.A is ranked fourth with an identical record! Could you please explain the rationale behind this? Thanks from Leaf Nation.
Geoff Mellor, Oshawa Ont.
Geoff, As I’m sure you’d agree, the process of putting together power rankings isn’t an exact science by any means. Indeed, it is inherently subjective. I rank teams by the caliber of teams they’ve beaten of late, by their overall talent base, and, of course, by their overall performance. In Toronto’s case, I believe most people would argue the Leafs don’t have the depth of talent possessed by the Hawks, Canucks, Sabres and Flyers - and when Toronto played Philly and Boston, they were beaten fairly easily.
If the Buds continue playing well, they’ll continue to rise through the ranks. But this early in the season, you can’t presume wins alone always equal power.
Adam, what's it going to take for a team - say, for example, the Ottawa Senators - to pry Kyle Turris away from the Phoenix Coyotes?
Brian Parsons, Gloucester, Ont.
Brian, By the looks of things, it’ll take a gigantic payoff of talent to Coyotes GM Don Maloney to loosen Turris from the team’s grip. Maloney has been very clear in his expectation that Turris will play for Phoenix or no other team this season.
Perhaps a GM steps up and blows him away with a trade offer, but there’s a reason why that hasn’t happened yet and is extremely unlikely to, barring some desperate situation. You don’t surrender quality prospects, players or draft picks for a guy whose career NHL highs are 11 goals and 25 points, no matter what his draft position or pedigree suggests he’ll evolve into. Turris likely will have to sign a one-year contract and hope his play makes him more attractive to teams than he is at present.
What’s up, Adam? My question: are all the hockey media in Toronto Maple Leaf fans? My guess is that they are. Mike Barry, Ottawa
What’s up, Mike? Your guess is incorrect. While some of us in Toronto (including me) grew up in the city as Leaf fans, when you choose journalism for your profession, you leave those days behind and examine all hockey teams from a dispassionate perspective. That doesn’t mean you can’t be happy to see a fan base rewarded after years of agony. But the longer I do this job, the more I meet great people in every NHL market, and the easier it is to find happiness for any team that succeeds.