Last week I wrote that Pierre Gauthier is a shithead. I said it because when he fired Jacques Martin two weeks ago, he blamed the coach for failing to prepare the team properly and for the players' lack of compete level in third periods. Those statements were ridiculous, as Martin certainly didn't suddenly change the game prep that had been perfectly acceptable to Gauthier until this year, nor did he tell the players to change the plan and start sucking in the third. If Gauthier had been honest, he would have admitted he fired Martin because the team is going to hell on a rail this year and shock treatment was required. The statements Gauthier made were insulting to Martin and basically classless.
The problem is, his entire reign as Habs GM has been marked by such low-class decisions. This year alone, he declined to make even a token offer to Kirk Muller which might have kept the popular coach around. Muller's departure may or may not be partly responsible for the dreadful state of the Canadiens this year, but the callous way he was let go without even a phone call was classless.
Then there was Perry Pearn's firing. Gauthier tried to pin the blame for the team's dreadful start on Pearn, while simultaneously firing a warning shot over Jacques Martin's bow. Martin found out about his closest colleague's dismissal an hour and a half before a game. The GM handled the situation awkwardly and, once again, with no class.
When Gauthier traded Jaroslav Spacek, he gave us another example of his disregard for people. He called Spacek in just as he was about to go onto the ice for practice and told him he'd been dealt. When Spacek asked where to, Gauthier said he couldn't tell him because the deal hadn't been approved by the league. So, a good man and dedicated player, sat there for an hour and a half knowing he'd be facing a huge life change, while the asshole responsible refused to tell him the details.
Now the latest example of outright classlessness is in the way Gauthier essentially fired Randy Cunneyworth in front of the media. In his latest state of the team address, he apologized for hiring a coach who didn't speak French and assured the media that the coach who will start the season next year will be bilingual. The statement was a completely unnecessary repeat of the comments made by Geoff Molson last week. Molson already threw Cunneyworth under the bus over the language issue, but Gauthier's comments basically tell the team this guy's not going to be around long, so whatever he's attempting to do is temporary. He has managed to destroy Cunneyworth's chances of making a real mark in his first NHL coaching position, and limit the respect he can expect to garner in the room. There was no reason for Gauthier to say those things, and his decision to do so was smug, disrespecful and disdainful of Cunneyworth. It's further evidence, if there hasn't been enough, that Gauthier has little of the class on which the Habs organization has traditionally built its reputation.
When the team president failed to return Larry Robinson's phone calls when Robinson expressed interest in a coaching position, we knew the days of the "Classy Canadiens" were numbered. Now they're gone, and whatever we might think of Gauthier's managerial decisions in themselves, the way he treats people is emblematic of what the organization has become.