At the start of the season, players are focused but many don't take the losses to heart when they look at the big scheme of things.
Picture it's Game 8 of the season and my team loses to St. Louis. Post-game, we might say to ourselves: “Oh well, bad breaks. We'll bounce back. We learned a few things about ourselves tonight that will help us the rest of the year. We have some new guys in some new positions and the chemistry just isn't there yet. It will be. Tonight was a good lesson."
That was then and this is now. The Habs lost four huge points this past weekend to conference teams (Senators and Rangers) who they happen to be fighting with in the standings. What I don’t understand with the Canadiens organization, or more so their coach, Jacques Martin, is that he’s giving many of the same answers that you'd expect to get after Game 8.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Martin has done a great job with this team considering the challenges he was faced with this year, including:
- Eleven players departed from last year's team.
- Andrei Markov (their best player) goes down in Game 1 and misses almost the entire first half of the season.
- Their goaltending situation. Halak wants out. Price is coming off a tough sophomore year.
- Losing their captain in the off-season and the media hounding Martin on who will be the team’s next one (which of course they still haven't named one … and please don't get me started on this. How do you not know who your captain is?! You still don't know your players? Will something happen next weekend for you to say, "aaahh, yep, let's go with Gionta or ??" What are you telling your team now by not appointing one? Must abort this train of thought or I will keep going on and on. Anyway ... I digress).
- The ownership situation and Bob Gainey's future
I can understand the coach protecting his players in the first half, but not now.
Jacques Martin has taken the nice route way too often throughout his coaching career. His players end up being a reflection of him - nice, quiet, humble guys, which is great if you were in a reading club or the Girl Guides.
His teams always have success during the year when the games don't mean as much. The last 30 games of the year … a different story. The playoffs, which are the big character test, his teams crumble. The Ottawa Senators were one of the best regular-season teams of the late 1990s, early into the 2000s, but Toronto would come into town and steal their lunch money. The Sens were way too much of a pushover. I don't want to pinpoint all of this on Martin, but I believe that you are a reflection of your coach. He was way too nice and way too quiet. So were his Sens and Panthers ... and now, so are his Habitants.
Team has lost its excitement
The Montreal Canadiens are headed straight down the same path. I have some good friends on that team that I encourage whenever I can, but I have to be honest with them by saying that they aren't the most exciting team in the league to watch anymore. They are the fifth-lowest team in the league when it comes to dropping the gloves, they have the second-lowest shots per game in the league and they’re ranked 28th in shots allowed.
I am not expecting Jacques to throw his clipboard at the media in his post-game conferences, but a little emotion would help. The team seems flat way too often and I'm not saying his pre-game speeches might have something to do with it, but maybe I am. I always believe it's not so much what you say but rather how you say it.
I’m not a Canadiens fan, but am a fan of the city that I am living in. And let me say it's a lot more fun when the team is winning so Jacques … get them going!
Sooooo on that note, I wish you all a happy last 30 games of the season.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?