Monday, February 8, 2010

Farewell, Skipper

I was surprised and not surprised to hear Bob Gainey has had enough of the general manager's role with the Canadiens today. Surprised, because I really thought he'd stick it out until the end of the year. Not surprised, because I've suspected nothing but sheer stubbornness has kept him going in the job this long.

We can talk legacies, good and bad, for years to come when we look back at the Gainey regime. Right now, in the first blush of his departure, it's about emotion. I'm sad to see Gainey leave. It's never a good day when an icon leaves the organization for which he's toiled for most of his professional hockey career. In Gainey's case, it's particularly poignant, even if he plans to be involved as a consultant, because Gainey was a real team man.

As a player, he was the man who always put the team first and who was never happy to be scoring goals if it meant leaving the team open to getting scored upon, so he sacrificed personal numbers for the good of the team. As a manager, he stepped in when his team needed him. The Canadiens were foundering and needed a man who knew his hockey and garnered respect around the league. They needed someone patient and smart, classy and experienced, who reminded everyone that the Canadiens deserved to be taken seriously once again.

He did that much. As I said, we can debate his moves on the job for a long time to come. He made some mistakes, but he did some good things too...the same as any GM who's not got a crystal ball or any other form of supernatural foresight to help him in his decisions. The team was better for having Bob Gainey at the helm. Now Pierre Gauthier will take the frame of the team Gainey has built and try to finish it.

I hope he's able to do so with as much dignity and respect as Bob Gainey has done.

10 comments:

Harry said...

Yes,farewell indeed. I didn't like all his moves but he was class all the way.I hope this is the start of a great new chapter for the Habs..

DB said...

Typical Gainey move - make a decision that puts the team first, and then surprise everyone with the annoucement.

His record can be debated, but there is no debate that he conducted himself with class and dignity. It's too bad that many Habs fans haven't followed his lead when commenting on his departure.

moeman said...

Well said.

lr said...

Definitely a class act all the way. A true leader.

I'll miss him. :(

Larry said...

After the 1986 Stanley Cup win Gainey mentioned the losing Calgary team and said "We derive no satisfaction from their disappointment" I will always remember that. He was a classy man all the way and I am going to miss him.

Anonymous said...

He was a calming influence that will be sorely missed.

That said Gauthier needs to make some bold moves, unload Hammer, spacek and gomez if he can!!

V said...

Gainey was a terrific GM who revived the belief and passion of many fans, me included. I will miss him and sincerely wish him all the best.

Denise T said...

As GM, he built his team on speed and skill, for the most part; tried his best to put an exciting product on the ice, which, when you think about it, has always been very "Montreal Canadien". Ironically, during his playing years, he wasn't known for his speed, perhaps causing him to overcompensate with having too many little guys, in the end.
Adjusting to the cap and challenges of the Montreal market were handled as best as any one possibly could have. He didn't make us any worse, but better in the end and always, as he played, was an honest, loyal, hard working class act. Thank you, Mr. Gainey.

J.T. said...

@Denise: On the contrary, Gainey was a powerful, relentless skater with lots of speed. That was one of his strengths as a checking forward, because he could keep up with anybody. I think he build with little guys because they were the best players he could get. But in the end, you're right. He made the team better, and he did his best.

David said...

What's weird is during Saturday's game there was a shot of Gainey watching, and for the first time I thought "How can he possibly enjoy this job? He watches the team struggle night after night, and he can't go out and help. And if that wasn't bad enough, there are millions of people out there criticizing him and telling him to do. What a nightmare!" Well, I guess he was thinking the same thing! :-)