Monday, June 1, 2009

Here's Your Team, Carey Price

KA-THUNK! (rattle rattle)

That was the sound of my heart falling when I heard Jacques Martin will be the Habs' new coach. You know what came immediately to mind? A passage from "The Game," in which Steve Shutt is teasing Doug Risebrough about his boring suits. He said, "Dougie, I didn't know 'drab' came in so many colours." That's pretty much how I feel about Martin. He's drab, he's boring and he's got a reputation for coaching a really painful style of hockey.

BUT...there's always a "but..."he's also experienced and speaks French, so two of the "Montreal requirements" have been met. He's never won anything, but I guess there's a first time for everything. More significant than his past or his facility in both official languages though, is what his hiring tells me about the direction the Canadiens are taking.

Bob Gainey intends this to be Carey Price's team, like the Devils are Martin Brodeur's team, or the Canucks are Roberto Luongo's team. Gainey has staked his best-ever draft pick, his team's playoff fortunes for two straight seasons and his reputation as a team-builder on the success or failure of a kid goalie. But he's now giving him the best possible chance to make a real go of it.

Rollie Melanson is out, and whether it's fair or not to the ex-coach, you can be sure it's because he did not further Price's development. The new goalie coach will be someone who either has worked with Price in the past, like Olaf Kolzig or Eli Wilson, or someone with an impeccable reputation as a coach, like Francois Allaire. The Franchise's development will be priority number one when the new coaching staff takes the ice in September.

And Martin's hiring fits in with the "project Price" philosophy too. One of the biggest problems Price had this year, aside from letting in bizarre and deflating goals at bad times (which, hopefully, the new goalie coach will address) was that his defence routinely allowed odd-man rushes and failed to clear rebounds out of the crease. Under Martin, that will stop. He will have the team playing a sound defensive system that will be clear to every player on the ice. Once the defence is organized, Price will be free to play his game and not worry about the shot-barrage he routinely faced this season.

So, while Martin is boring and drab, his role in Montreal isn't to be exciting. His job is to make the team in front of Carey Price play better so The Franchise can do his job to the best of his abilities. Gainey wants to be vindicated for his faith in Carey Price, and he wants to see whatever spark that caused him to be drafted at number five overall fanned into the flame of stardom.

Make no mistake. Carey Price is the Montreal Canadiens, for better or for worse. Bob Gainey has hired Jacques Martin to make sure it's for better. We'll see. And we'll try to stay awake while we're waiting.


Stéphane said...

Indeed, Jacques Martin has never "won anything". That's the big knock on the new bench boss in Montreal.

Sure. Fine.

Unless you count a Conference Championship and a berth in the Stanley Cup Final. Not much, I suppose.

How close did Tremblay, Vigneault, Therrien, Julien and Carbonneau get to the Cup as coaches before they were hired?

Unless we were getting the second coming of Scotty Bowman (with a French accent), no "true" fans were going to be happy.

Dare I say it? I think it's a good move.

If only Allaire would come back to turn Carey Price into Jonas Hiller.

pierre said...

I like drab myself.. in hockey ? for a coach ? I definitely do.... the show is on the ice and that's where the stars should be..... I wont miss Carbo's sexy ties, which is only a step away from such faux-pas as Therrien's yellow vest..... next thing you know you'r stuk with an L.A. King looking clown à la Melrose.... better play it safe here.... so here we are with the King of Drab himself... welcome Jacques Martin.

His hiring today was good news to me for two reasons, first it brough to an end the extreme disconfort it felt to be an Habs fan during the last 9 months..... you see, entering the crucial month of June without a coach to show for I thought to myself this ORDEAL would never end... but were O.K now...... June first, the Head Coach is here, decisions will be made, players will get signed and we will be prepared to face the draft on the 24th and so will we be when the UFA market open on the first of July..... just like any NORMAL team would.

The second reason of my excitement was Jacques Martin himself..... I see this selection by Gainey as his best single decision since he has been GM for the CH.... short of Babcock from the Wings Martin is as good a choice as I could have hoped for..... finally a real coach for the Montreal Canadiens and I believe that he will be here for the long run.

As Patrick Lalime and Thibault who played for him said..... " this man is respected by all the players who played for him, he his an adept teacher and makes players better while getting the best out of them.. as he did with Hossa, Havlat and others who never felt restricted in their creativity while being commited to the ethic of his two-way system "

Guy Lafleur who once played under his surpevision in Quebec was also asked to comment.... " the party is over " he said with a smile, " Martin is very demanding and you cannot go out of shape with him around, he is a disciplineterian but he is fair, communicate well and well liked in the end ".

What I like most about Martin is not only the hight number of years that he has coached in the NHL but the fact that he did it under a variety of conditions with team as differently composed as were the St-Louis, Ottawa and Florida - and did it under the two different environment that was separated by the lock-out.

From two differents interviews it is clear that his hockey philosophy is grounded in the puck possession game as it is played by the Wings today where dumping the puck is considered but one options among myriad others, - intense puck pursuits - well orchestrated defensive zone coverage - efficient transition game from a D corp who knows how to handle the puck well...... in a nutshell, his goal is the Wings's ways since he referred to them on a few occasions to bring some of his points across.

The more skill players we have in our roster the better the team will be..... Martin wont stiffled the offensive level of his team neither will he be blinded by it..... our team will strived under his guidance while being better structured than they were and the youngs will keep developing better under his supervison and controlled practices than they ever did..... which is an absolute most.

Although I am not a huge fan of Gainey I will disagree with you J.T. that his hiring of Martin was self-serving in any way..... our team needed to play better as a team and Gainey knows that while we need to improved our defence we also need to remain explosive offensivelly if our franchise is to remained an exciting destination for the talented UFA of tomorow..... Martin with his expertise can produce such a balance without turning our team into an amorphe defensivelly tight shell without a futur.

As I see it, Martin is for the good of our team wether with Price or without.

Jay in PA said...

You should see a doctor about that rattle.

I think it's interesting that the moves to hire Martin and fire Rollie were announced together. It certainly does suggest, as you note, that BG wants to address the obvious deficiencies on this team from the goalie, out. Still, you were among the fans calling for Rollie's head for making Price into a butterfly goalie when his natural style is more of a hybrid, so there should be relief at that move, if nothing else. And if we secure Allaire, perhaps encouragement to follow. Kolzig, on the other hand, sounds less like a goalie coach and more like a babysitter/mentor for Price.

I don't know that I agree that BG is looking at the Devils as much as he continues to gaze at the Wings with adoration. Martin's Florida team may have been dull, but he had few exciting players. His Ottawa teams were better, but he just didn't have anywhere close to the level of goaltending you need for the playoffs. As we saw this season, the coach is but one piece in the success of the team, albeit a bloody important piece. At least he has experience at this level and won't be learning on the job.

Frankly, my thought is that we could have done worse. I think we'll all be happy to see the team play some defense for a change, since whatever they've been doing up to now just hasn't worked at all.

Unknown said...

Phoff, don't think Martin ever won a Conference and got to the Stanley Cup finals, did he?

Stéphane said...

You're right David. He had already left Ottawa when they went to the finals.

My bad.

My comment remains, however. He is by far the most experienced coach hired since Demers.

Howard said...

The Canadiens goaltenders were literally left out to dry last season. In the second half Carey would regularily get shelled and each time Halak would start he would be forced to steal the game stopping 40+ shots.
It's clear that what the team needs is discipline. I hope that Komisarek is signed asap. That, coupled with the prospect of Yemelin coming over from Russia should solidify our D. I don't know if Mcdonagh will make it out of training camp. I think he will need a bit of seasoning but he is definitely a Komo in the making.
If Jacques Martin can turn O'byrne into a semblance of Zdeno Chara then that's a bonus too.
As far as forwards go, I can't see Kovy or Tanguay contributing a lot to a defensive system but I should would miss Kovy's laser and Tanguay's precision passing. I would try to go with the same team as last year with the exception of Breezer and the addition of Yemelin.
Up front, Max Pac has another year under his belt and should contribute. I would like to see Chipchura in place of Metropolit. For goodness sakes buy out BGL!!! He contributes nothing.
The line of Lats, Lapps, and TTB was fantastic but Lats has to play the scoring role because lord knows it won't be TTB.
Would like to see a bigger center on the first two lines. Pleks was horrid last season but he plays a Jacques Martin type game. I hope Koivu will come back too but we'll leave that to the powers that be.
All in all I think Hockey 101 is about to commence after the bread and circus of the Carbo years. Am going to enjoy winning 2-1.

Number31 said...

I think Kovy would like it...he's a puck possession guy ;) No one else is better at dipsy-doodling an entire team 3 times and still have the puck while waiting for his bloody linemates to change. (Though Maxwell is growing into that).