I suppose that the patience within the front offices of the Montreal Canadiens has run out. I mean, you can only send so many players on a personal vacation so that they can discover themselves and, hopefully, their hockey talent once again. And while sending players to the AHL works in the short-term, it's hard to send down players who have one-way contracts and will most certainly be picked up via waivers if sent down. In knowing that, it comes as a bit of a surprise that GM Bob Gainey has fired Canadiens' head coach Guy Carbonneau with less than 20 games to play.
It's not like this is an unprecedented move. The only difference is that we're used to seeing Lou Lamiorello making the changes to his coaching position with a few games remaining. Rarely do we see the Canadiens make such a knee-jerk reaction, especially after coming off a confidence-restoring 3-1 win over Dallas last night.
Carbonneau was the only member of the coaching staff let go by Gainey today, and Gainey will assume the reins tomorrow night when the Edmonton Oilers visit. Carbonneau's successful coaching abilities were admirably reflected in his 124-83-23 record, but his lack of success in the playoffs combined with this season's struggles down the stretch spelled doom for the likable head coach.
Honestly, there's no one to blame now for GM Bob Gainey. The controversy that has swirled around this team this season has been a public relations nightmare, and Gainey has done little to quell the masses. His trade deadline deals in acquiring Mathieu Schneider, Doug Janik, and Glen Metropolit were, to say the least, underwhelming for a reeling club. After dismissing one of the most successful coaches in recent history, there will be considerable pressure on Gainey's shoulders now until the Canadiens are finished this season.
And, quite frankly, he deserves it.
There have been a few other stories that need to be touched on, so here's a quick rundown of what's been happening elsewhere in the hockey world.
- Thanks to Reebok's infinite wisdom, we finally have proper socks on the New York Islanders. Instead of creating socks with the stripes that go completely around the legs for their alternate jerseys, Reebok introduced these idiotic socks during the unveiling of the Islanders' throwbacks. Why couldn't the stripes go all the way around? Well, Reebok finally realized what Islander fans have been screaming about all season long, and gave the Islanders proper socks for their March 8 game against the Coyotes. You know, just in time for the season to end.
- The OHL's London Knights celebrated the OHL's greatest goal scorer on Sunday night as John Tavares scored a hat trick, vaulting him ahead of Peter Lee for the OHL's all-time goal-scoring record. Lee's record of 213 career OHL goals stood since 1976 when he played for the Ottawa 67's, and he compiled the record over five years from 1971-76. Now, Tavares is writing history with each game as he sits at 215 career OHL goals. Tavares has two more games to add to his total, as well as two years of OHL eligibility left, but it is expected he'll be in an NHL uniform next season. Well done, Mr. Tavares! There's a long NHL career ahead of you, so don't burn yourself out!
- I was shocked by the announcement that the Pittsburgh Penguins had put together their first 5-0 roadtrip in team history. When you think of the talent that has rolled through Steeltown - Lemieux, Jagr, Stevens, Tocchet, Francis, Murphy, Samuelsson - it's shocking to think that this season's version of the Penguins did something those legends never could. Congratulations to the Penguins for setting a little team history!
- It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs are gearing up for next September already. After shutting down goaltender Vesa Toskala a few days ago, the Leafs announced today that defenceman Mike Van Ryn will be done for the rest of the season with a torn medial collateral ligament. They really have nothing to play for in terms of making the playoffs, so it might be a prudent move in the long run. Get well soon to both players!
- In what may have been missed by most people, it appears that major Canadian hockey reporter Bruce Garrioch doesn't know his NHL-AHL affiliations. Garrioch takes some heat from Yahoo's Greg Wyshynski, but I'm going to add to it. Yesterday, Garrioch wrote about how the Los Angeles Kings sent defenceman Tim Preissing to the AHL, except that he indicated that Lowell is the Kings' AHL affiliate. Except that the Manchester Monarchs are the Kings' AHL affiliate. The Lowell Devils are, as you may have guessed, the affiliate of the New Jersey Devils. OOPS!
- The first round of the KHL Playoffs are done, and there were a few major upsets. #16 Avangard Omsk Oblast defeated #1-ranked Salavat Yulaev Ufa 3-1 in their best-of-five series. #2-ranked Ak Bars Kazan got by #15 Barys Astana in a three-game sweep. #3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl defeated #14 Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk in four games. #4 HC CSKA Moscow needed five games to dispatch #13 HC Lada Togliatti. #5 Atlant Mytishchi swept #12 Traktor Chelyabinsk out of the playoffs. #6 Metallurg Magnitogorsk swept #11 Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod out of the playoffs as well. #7 HC Dynamo Moscow only needed three games to oust #10 Dinamo Riga. And #9 HC Spartak Moscow swept #8-ranked SKA St. Petersburg in the other upset of the first round.
- The new series in the KHL Gagarin Cup Playoffs will see #2 Ak Bars Kazan square off against #16 Avangard Omsk Oblast; #3 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl take on #9 HC Spartak Moscow; #4 HC CSKA Moscow plays #7 HC Dynamo Moscow; and #5 Atlant Mytishchi takes to the ice against #6 Metallurg Magnitogorsk. All of the second-round series are best-of-five series as well.
- Just want to say that if you want some high-tension and really good drama, tune into the soap opera called the Edmonton Oilers. Head coach Craig MacTavish and highly-paid, underperforming forward Dustin Penner are back at it. Neither side is happy with the other, and neither seems willing to speak about. Doesn't this feel like high school?
- As a final note, just want to send out my heartfelt condolences and best wishes to the Rychel family. Warren Rychel was a rugged individual in the NHL, and won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche. He now owns the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. It was announced today that his brother, 39 year-old Andrew Rychel, had died in a house fire in Lakeshore, Ontario. My best to you and your family, Mr. Rychel, during this tragedy.
Did you see him wave in the linesman when Orr's jersey was over his face? That's called "respect for your opponent".
The little things like that are exactly what "the code" is about. Thornton could have chosen the option to pummel Orr, but, instead, he saw Orr at a significant disadvantage, let up, and called in the men in stripes. That, my faithful readers, is exactly what "the code" is about.
And just so you know, I nearly jumped off the couch when I saw Thornton do that. I literally was yelling "He knows the code!" when I saw that before Pierre McGuire started yapping about it. Huge thumbs-up to Shawn Thornton for his reaction to the situation. I have a whole new realm of respect for the scrappy Bruins forward.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!