2 things   11 comments

Now that I’ve paid homage to Bob, let me quickly tackle 2 issues that bothered me yesterday, while everyone was discussing the habs situation.

1. The way some fans are calling for Jacques Martin’s head:

(yeah, sorry EP, it’s not really just you actually, but well…) The guy has only been here for 4 months. He’s an experienced coach, and he’s not the only reason why this team is disappointing. I think it’s waaaaay to early to even consider firing him. I’m not always sold on his moves, and I’m not sure I love the way his teams play, but that’s the direction the habs went for. Now, at least give the guy some time to really implement his work.

2. Yet another installment of the language issue:

Gauthier has been here for half a day, and people are complaining everywhere about the way he was picked, and about Boivin. The reason? “Boivin said he hired a French-speaking guy because his language is important! Why can’t he pick the best guy overall? Why does he prefer a French loser to a wathever-his-language competent guy? Whaaa whaa whaaaa!” Give me a break. If you still don’t understand that the habs have to at least say stuff like that to appease the media, I can’t help you. Could anyone really prove that the habs chose their new GM over a more qualified candidate just because of his language? That’s bullshit. Who were the others supposedly better candidates to begin with? Ken Holland and Lou Lamoriello are great GMs. But you know what, they already have jobs. I hear Mike Milbury was available. Is that what you wanted? Name me just another available GM who has experience, already knows the habs organization well and could fit in smoothly in the midst of a season as Gauthier will, and I’ll shut up. The only possibly available experienced GM I can think of is Dale Tallon, who is now Senior Adviser of Hockey Operations for the Blackhawks. I don’t know if he does speak French, but he’s from Rouyn Noranda, Quebec, so I assume he could at least speak a little bit of Frenglish. If they really wanted Tallon, they could have played the “he’s from Quebec” card to appease the  bigot faction of the French media. So I’d be surprised to learn the Habs picked Gauthier over  someone like Tallon just because the former is francophone.

As long as the Habs play in Montreal, the language issue will at least be taken into account when hiring a GM.  And rightly so. Should it be the first criterion? Hell no. But is it actually the first criterion used by the Habs? I really doubt it, no matter what Boivin says to please the media.

I’m not for an all-French Habs team or franchise. It’s a ridiculous notion. But I don’t think this is what we’re seeing.  I’m not even arguing for more or for less francophones. I just think the habs can’t completely ignore the issue. And actually, I think the Habs are not doing too bad in that regard. They’re criticized by some people in the French media because they don’t have enough francophone players, and they’re criticized in parts of the English media and blogs for paying too much attention to language when hiring someone. When both sides are complaining, maybe you’re actually doing a good job! ;)

Alright, that was my little rant of the day.

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Posted February 9, 2010 by Grrrreg in Uncategorized

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11 responses to “2 things

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  1. Question: Does Tallon speak French?
    Answer: Oui. Sa mère vient de Québec et probablement parlait français dans la maison pendant qu’il grandissait. Mais je ne sais qu’il parle français.

    Question: Would he be a great Habs GM?
    Answer : Yes. For further proof, see the Chicago Blackhawks current roster and 2008/09 run.

  2. Merci d’avoir laissé un commentaire! I know he would have been good. If he does speak French, at least it shows language was not the reason why he was not hired. I think the Habs really wanted some continuity here, especially since Gainey agreed to stay behind the scenes. This is the main reason why they picked Gauthier. I don’t think it has anything to do with language. In this case, I think Gauthier being Francophone was just icing on the cake for Boivin and the Molsons.

  3. You know, I really don’t want to open the language debate here, but let’s be honest: Jacques Martin would have not been hired if he spoke only English. You saw the uproar when Don Lever was called up. The biggest complaint about Lever was that he did not speak French. He was never going to be accepted as the coach here.

    But back to Martin…. Is everything that’s gone wrong with this team this year, Martin’s fault? No. Just like everything the year before was not Carbonneau’s fault. However, there is a point where the coach has to take at least partial responsibility for what is going on with the team. Maybe I’m wrong, but a good coach should be able to get the best out of his players. A good coach has to face the media and say “yeah, we sucked tonight” instead of coming up with three million lame excuses for why the team fell asleep and lost.

    It’s been only 4 months, but does this team look any better now than the team that go killed on that Western conference roadtrip at the beginning of the year? No. Systems take a while to get used to. I know this. But it’s February now. If a system takes this long to “get” then there’s something wrong with the system.

    I obviously have no choice but to sit around and hope that things turn around in the near future but right now I do not like Martin’s style of coaching in the least.


  4. Well I was referring to the GM position here. There are probably less qualified people to be the GM to begin with, and I was just saying I don’t think language was really the biggest issue here. So it annoyed me to see some people bringing it up again yesterday.

    About the choice of a coach, I agree with you, language shouldn’t be the deciding factor. We’ve discussed that this summer, and I think we agreed on that. I would have loved someone like Dave Tippett, who went on to coach the Coyotes and is doing great there. Don Lever would have been a good choice too.

    I agree Martin has to take some heat for the way his team plays. That’s normal. I’m sure the coach has some responsibility here, but I just think firing an experienced guy like him (we’re not talking about Melrose here) after just 4 months is a little extreme.

    But to be honest, I think I’m biased here. I know I’m always very conservative regarding coaches, and it always irks me when someone wants a coach to be fired. I don’t know why, but I’m like this. And also frankly, I’m not very good at analyzing the way the game is coached… :/

  5. The language issue died in the french media the day the Molson took the helm. Language was an issue to many in the french media because, as they repeatedly said, they felt the Gilett group couldn’t care less about the fact that most of the fan were french speaking. Whether that is factually true is, I think, beside the point. This was the perception in the french media and media, french or english or whatever, aren’t just outlets, they are fields of people competing and sharing at the same time. If a meme can develop somewhere, well the mediatic sphere is the perfect place.

    Now, why did the language issue meme died in the french media after the Molson took the helm? Well, first and foremost, they said the acknowledged the issue and would adress it. Then whatever (if anything) happened, the french media felt it was what had to be done and stopped bothering with it. Réjean Tremblay, of all people, actually accused english media reporters of trying to stir up the issue needlessly in his last column.

    That tells me that, whatever the reasons, the issue can’t be deader than it is now.

    Am I completely hallucinating?

  6. I don’t like calling for the coach’s head. But he should never have been hired to begin with and it irks me that we ended up with him because he fits the language requirement. Yes, he has more experience than say, Carbo or Therrien had when they were hired, but I’m not seeing any signs that this experience makes him a better coach. Torts has plenty of experience, has won a Stanley Cup with the Bolts, but would you want him coaching the Habs?

    As for Gauthier…. I think what irked people was less about Gauthier himself being appointed, than it was about Boivin’s comments. Boivin insisted that the GM had to speak French in order to communicate with the fans and media. This made me mad because how many times does a GM communicate with the media and fans compared to the amount of times he needs to communicate with other GMs and agents? Contrary to popular belief, the GM doesn’t take the fans suggestions on which players to acquire or trade or draft. He communicates with other GMs, scouts and agents – the vast majority of which speak English as a first or second language.

    Boivin opened this open by saying it. If he had kept his mouth shut, I don’t think there’d be such an uproar. He should have said “we’re picking Gauthier because he’s been in our organization and he knows what’s going on and at this point he’s the best person to bring in now.” Instead, he said “we didn’t really consider looking outside for another GM because the list is short. Oh and we need to have a guy who speaks French so he can talk to the media and the fans”. I’m obviously paraphrasing this, but that is really the gist of it. This gives the perception that this franchise cares more about their GMs and coaches ability to communicate with the fans and media than they do about winning. it’s the same reason why we have to have a French speaking coach. So he can communicate with the fans and the media. Not so he can communicate with his mostly English players.

    Boivin has a history of speaking when he should be quiet and I really wish he’d learn his lesson sooner rather than later. This is the guy who said that Laraque would be out just before Laraque left. This is the guy who said that Halak is out of here. And now he’s blown open The Language Debate.

  7. The reality is if the Canadiens were interested in the best candidate to be gm, Gauthier would not even rate in the top ten. What about Wayne Thomas assistant gm in San Jose? Jim Nil? Why not make an overture to David Conte head of the Devils scouting department. For that matter what about Jack Ferreira, special assistant in L.A. The same Jack Ferreira who was head of the Canadiens pro scouting in 1993. It is laughable to suggest there are not more viable candidates that Pierre Gauthier. Examine Gauthier’s track record it equals mediocrity. Wayne Thomas or Jim Nil in particular would run rings around Gauthier. Gauthier got the job in part due to linguistic reasons, not based on a body of work that suggests he can build a cup contender.

  8. @ wright: I think the main reason Gauthier got the job is to have continuity. This is not a typical GM change: the former GM stays in a consulting position, and the guy who was closely associated with him gets the job. Gauthier has aready contributed to build this team. I don’t know his past record that well, but I read he did not too bad in Ottawa. And honestly, I didn’t know the other guys you mentioned… :P

    @ EP: As for Boivin speaking too much, maybe, although the language question was asked to him by someone during the press conference. His comments were ill advised, that’s true.

    @ Olivier: About the French media, honestly I almost don’t read them anymore. I never read Réjean Tremblay’s columns. So maybe you’re right and it’s not an issue for them right now. I just brought it up because I thought the reaction to Boivin’s comments on some blogs and on Twitter was a little over the top.

    In this case, I think Boivin wanted to cater to parts of the french public, and he overstated the importance of language in this particular decision. But maybe I’m reading too much into all this.

  9. The thing is, it’s one thing to just pay lip service to the French media by saying that they need to have a bilingual coach or GM, but it’s another thing to go ahead and back that up by filling important positions with people who speak French but only have so-so records. I dunno if you saw the presser, but Boivin was pretty emphatic in his answer.

    Gauthier’s record in Ottawa is filled with a couple of good moves and a lot of “meh” moves.

    Look, I’m all for bilingualism and ideally, it’d be great to have a bilingual coach and a bilingual GM, but that should NOT be the first requirement (and I know you agree with me on that but I’m just stating that now anyway).

  10. Grrreg, I am surprised that Jim Nil and David Conte are names that do not resonate with you. Nil is the assistant GM to Ken Holland in Detroit. David Conte heads up the Devils amateur scouting, and has done a superb job identifying talent in the mid to late rounds over the years. Wayne Thomas, is the assistant gm in San Jose, and has been very involved in player development with the team. Whether any of the above mentioned would be allowed out of their existing contracts, and would even have an interest in the Habs is debatable for sure. Nonetheless, to me it is the height of irresponsibility on the part of Bovin and Geoff Molson to not at least explore the possibility of getting a top tier hockey man for the Habs.

    I get the notion of continuity, but if that is the case, have Gauthier in the position only until the end of the year.

    As far as his track record goes, I suggest you take a closer look. In Ottawa it was fair, but in Anaheim it has horrid. In the 4 years their, only one draft pick had even a neglibe impact, Jeffrey Lupol. The Ducks finished out of the playoffs 3 out of 4 years. The one major trade Gauthier made he was taken to the cleaners on, the Selannne deal, which netted Shields and Friessen in return.

    As a pro scout for the Habs, a pretty soft record as well. He must have had some infleunce in the decision for Gainey to sign 3 slow moving d men in Gill, Mara and Spacek. All left handed dmen, on a team that desperately needed mobility and a right handed shot from the blueline. Under his watch, for every Latendresse for Pouilot trade that worked, there were the misguided acquisitions of Ninnama, Samsanov,Smolinski, to name but a few. From drating, to pro scouting, his evaluation of talent makes me very concerned about the future direction of this franchise.

  11. Thanks wright, that’s a very interesting comment. About his stint as a GM in Ottawa, I had just read that he helped to turn the franchise around, but I didn’t have time to take a closer look.

    And it’s true that his record as a pro scout in Montreal is questionable.

    I guess we just have to wait and see now…

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