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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Martin's Firing Needs to Produce Results

The axe has fallen. The head has rolled.

The open letter from Habs Fan in LeafLand to GM Pierre Gauthier... received and apparently, heard.

Habs Fan in LeafLand poster "Anonymous," as did much of Habs nation, finally got their wish.

Jacques Martin is out as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens after 2 1/2 seasons. Randy Cunneyworth steps as interim head coach.

"It's disappointing. We've been underachieving for the entire season. Jacques' not the reason we weren't winning games," an ashen faced Erik Cole said this morning. "This is a good wakeup call to us here in the room that we have to play better."

And better play, they must. Because now that Martin has been fired, it's high time for the players to play to their full potential. The excuses have run dry. This is a good team and it's time they started playing like it.

Let's remember not too long ago how a struggling Pittsburgh Penguins team, out of the playoffs and not playing to their full potential, fired head coach Michel Therrien mid-season, brought in Dan Byslma -- and the rest is history. The Penguins took flight and eventually won the Stanley Cup later that spring.

Look at the St. Louis Blues this season. Ken Hitchcock, one of my early calls to replace Martin, has seemingly turned that team's season around.

So now the BIG question is, will this make the same difference with the 2011-2012 edition of the Habs???

"When a team isn't performing as well as it should be or as well as it's expected to be, then changes are going to be made, and if we continue to play the way we have been, more changes are probably going to come."

Hello Mr. Cammalleri!!! Time for you to step up and get better my brother. At a million dollars a goal, the price is way too steep for my blood. I'm not as worried about Gionta or Tommy Plekanec -- they bring a lot more to the ice than just point production. But you, you need to score goals and score you must.

So the heat turns to the players and of course, Mr. Gauthier. I've been reading the boards. Many think Gauthier is a goner no matter what in the offseason. Molson certainly wants a winner and wants to put his stamp on this team. He inherited Gauthier and Martin.

The other BIG question of course is, who fills Martin's shoes full-time? Is this just temporary until Gauthier finds the right man this season? Or will he wait to see what happens and pull the trigger over the summer. I guess time will tell. I just want the team to win -- I couldn't care less who it is.


It's now become somewhat legendary in my circles that I boldly predicted the Habs would win the Stanley Cup this year. And I don't back away from that seemingly foolish statement. But for that to even have a snowball's chance in hell to happen, the Habs as a team need to start showing results and play themselves into the playoff picture.

Mr. Gauthier mentioned at today's press conference that "Jacques Martin did a good job for us"-- though he said "excellent" in French. The fact remains that the GM (as certainly did owner Geoff Molson) thought the team wasn't playing up to snuff and it was time to make a change.

I agree 100%.

This is a good team. The best since '93. Our best players haven't been our best players and it's time for them to step it up and start getting some results. Even with this week's win at home against the Islanders, it was hard to get excited about the win, when they gave up another lead in the 3rd. How many times has that happened already this season.

The Habs are a fast team that can use their speed, strong transition game and quick-moving puck skills to their advantage. But they haven't been doing it. Now hopefully they will.

Randy Cunneyworth steps in as interim head coach. He was a gritty, hard working, intense kind of player. We've only heard good things about him as a coach. Now he has the job of turning the ship around -- the first unilingual head coach the Canadiens have had since Bob Berry in the early 1980's.

And that's the last Cunneyworth would want to be associated with Berry, that's for sure. We all know how that turned out but if you don't... it wasn't too good.

So Cunneyworth is joined by Larry Carriere, already Gauthier's assistant GM and a man Cunneyworth knows well from his days as assistant coach in Buffalo. He's also a former player in his own right. He'll be handling the French language commentaries for the press.

Today we all got what we wanted. Let's hope we continue to get what we want, starting tonight against the New Jersey Devils. Puckdrop is at 7pm.

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