Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Carbo's Farewell

Whatever else you might say about Guy Carbonneau and his tenure as coach of the franchise for which he bled as a player, you can't say the man doesn't have class. I watched his farewell news conference this afternoon and he handled himself with dignity and a touch of humour, while skillfully deflecting questions about the rot that seems to have infected the core of the Canadiens.

I think Carbo made a lot of mistakes. He played one-dimensional players too much. He gave Carey Price too much leeway when the team needed stability in goal and Price couldn't offer it. He called out players publicly too often. He changed lines like socks and he made incomprehensible decisions about which players to have on the ice at crucial times. But I think the mistakes he made would have been mitigated by a winning team, the same way they were last year. He wasn't perfect then either, but the team was just so much better it didn't seem to matter. Most of the bad decisions this year were in reaction to the team's losing. Now, since the team is playing in exactly the same listless, defensively porous, weak-willed way under GM Bob Gainey as it did under Carbonneau, we might be forced to think maybe coaching wasn't the problem after all.

Carbonneau handled every question thrown at him with aplomb today. Whatever criticism he's received about being a poor communicator, it doesn't carry over into his relationship with the media. As expected of an employee who will continue to be paid by the organization for the next two years, he graciously thanked team ownership, management and the other coaches. He even thanked the players whose lack of the same on-ice determination that defined Carbo as a player cost him his job. He talked about his love of hockey and of the team and hoped that he'll be able to continue to work in the game. He choked up a bit when he talked about this being his first firing...obviously a failure for a man who will do anything to win.

The one answer that intrigued me was in response to the question, "Would you like to discuss the team with Bob, and would you offer any advice about any bad apples in the room; who to keep and who to let go?" Carbo said, "Yes, I'd very much like to talk to Bob about that, after the season." Interesting comment from an insightful, diplomatic and possibly wrongfully dismissed man, no?


James said...

I haven't seen the press conference and your write-up is the first I hear of it. From it I can definitely tell Carbo has much more class than I ever will.
I wouldn't have minced my words concerning the players - think there was too much calling-out players before? Wow it would've been brutal then.
But hey, I'm not Carbo (thankfully for everyone I guess) and he kept his cool.

It's even more remarkable that he was composed like that considering the fact that he probably shouldn't have lost his job - but at the same time, I guess we can expect that from a guy who's displayed class throughout his career.

Don't know if he realizes that his good friend Bob might be out of a job this summer too, if the Habs fail to turn it around very very soon?

GK said...

Oh yes. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in that meeting.

Unknown said...

To say the man has class, is the understatement of the millenium (so far). He was a class act as a player, he was a class act as a coach (o.k., maybe not perfect) and he certainly is a class act as a human being.

That said, I fail to understand how most hockey owners have been able to buy themselves a hockey team. Coming from a guy that earned a weekly salary all his life, I can’t for the hell of it understand the way most of these guys do business.

The Canadiens are a good example (though, not unique in the genre). Eight of the last nine coaches were rookie coaches. I suppose that all of them except Demers were paid well below the the NHL average coach salary in their rookie year. However, most of them had their contract extended with a generous raise (I suppose), after a year or two at the helm of the team. It certainly looks like all of them were fired within a year of that contract extension thus getting a nice paycheck a year or two after having been sacrificed. Since all of them (except Tremblay) found work as an NHL coach a few years (months ?) after having fired by the Canadiens it makes no sense to me to hire an inexperienced person, supply him with the most formidable training a rookie can ask for, fire him after 30-36 months, pay him another 12-24 months as he “plays” “joueurnaliste” on RDS or elsewhere and then, see him go to another NHL city and have another team benefit from his experience.

I think Gainey made a big mistake when he gambled that he could do better than Carbo with the same players he had supplied or maybe we should say, “NOT SUPPLIED”, his former coach. Gainey (maybe it’s Boivin or Gillett) could so easily taken advantage of the many UFA’s to get rid of some of the rotten apples and then, start fresh with players that are happy to be here.

Nah...they had to follow the 30 years tradition and fire the coach instead of making a clear statement to the players, like Buffalo and Nashville has done, through the good and the bad times.

so far,I fail to see much improvement under a new coach that can communicate so well with his players. And while I can see them (barely) make the playoffs, I certainly don’t see them winning a series, with those horses.

In Bob, I used to trust...