The Carousel Begins

The Montreal Canadiens fired GM Pierre Gauthier today, and late today it was confirmed that Bob Gainey’s involvement with the team was also at an end. Gainey is an interesting fellow, someone Edmonton might want to add to the group “thinktank” that makes up the decisioning process for the club.

The book Darcy gave me has two pages on Gainey. I could quote the whole damn book, but for today I’d like to capture two items, beginning with this from his Dallas days:

  • By 1996 I’d been with the Stars about five years and I’d been coaching for most of that time and it was evident we didn’t have enough good players to compete against the stronger teams. We had some good young players like Derian Hatcher, Mike Modano and Richard Matvichuk but we didn’t have enough, we had too many holes. Particularly it was easy to pinpoint we didn’t have an adequate second center to play against Colorado for instance, with Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic. I thought we made a nice goaltending improvement and gave ourselves credibility in the community when we moved from Jon Casey to Andy Moog, but from Andy Moog to Eddie Belfour was again another change of calibre that had a real impact on the peformance of the team. So we added players in each position that were elite players–along with a top flight coach in Ken Hitchcock–which allowed us to draw a few other players. Once it starts to form, then it’s easier for a player who’s looking for a place to play to see how he’ll fit in. 

There’s some real nice thinking there, Gainey gave a nice thumbnail of the thinking that went into building a winner. The foundation of winning in Dallas still runs on even if they perhaps don’t deserve it based on talent, and I think sometimes teams like NJ or Dallas can overcome obstacles because the mindset is to win and tweak until there’s an answer. Development is important, but performance is king.

The Oilers could use that sort of thinking.

The second item also comes from the book Behind the Moves and speaks to his being open to new ideas.

  • I don’t think hockey is unique and unable to absorb good ideas from other places. I’ve heard different coaches talk about rugby as a sport where they attack teams and they do similar things to what we were doing in hockey but maybe somewhat different. They have perhaps more absolute possession of the ball when they’ve got it in their arms and it’s not as easy to do that in hockey. There’s always a place to pick something up and implement it.”

Nothing major, but I think it speaks to the wisdom of looking around and being available to innovations elsewhere that could be applied at home. Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of how he conducts business. Seems like a rational sort, not quick to overreact and not overly emotional. I like that kind of approach, measured and reasonable.

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23 Responses to "The Carousel Begins"

  1. pboy says:

    I guess you have to decide if you are getting that Gainey to be part of the think tank or the one that thought Scott Gomez and his contract were worth trading for.

  2. stevezie says:

    Always liked Gainey, thought him and Carbeneau made a real good team and I’m surprised Guy isn’t in the big leagues somwhere. My only problem with Bob is he smiles so much he could be a Sutter. Maybe that is a lingering result of his family tragedy (my grandpa never again laughed the same after his brother died), but he doesn’t look like a guy filled with passion. That said, if I don’t care about body language in a player I really don’t care about it in a manager. If he wanted to sign on, I’d love to have him.

  3. fuzzy muppet says:

    In other news: Willis writes the Bob McKensie says that Edmonton might be the landing spot for Justin Schultz as a FA as of July 1.

    Lordy that would be like an extra lottery pick…

    McKensie is very plugged in, so things might be looking up in Oiltown :)

  4. fuzzy muppet says:

    Well LT. Looks like you beat me to it on ON.

    That’s why you’re the man….

  5. Jordan says:

    LOL.

    I think there may be room for one more hockey mind here, but I really hope its not Ganey, Gauthier, or anyone associated with the Habs. There’s been a lot of jokes over the years at Edmonton’s expense about how the Oilers continue to reach back to the 80s glory days without having anything to cheer for in the present. The only teams that are worse for that are the Habs, and the Leafs.

    Those team cultures are doomed to look back, and with this team starting to look forwards… it seems like a move in the wrong direction.

    Its too bad that things have gotten better in Buffalo – a guy like Regier or Ruff would have been the kind of smart hockey man that this team could benefit from (presuming Holland was busy in Detroit). With them in the hunt, even if they lose out, I doubt there’s changes made, which means neither can help our guys bet better..

    Of course, that would mean there would be room for MacT to come back – even if they decide to keep the coach.

  6. commonfan14 says:

    fuzzy muppet: Well LT. Looks like you beat me to it on ON.

    Has anyone else noticed that the girl in the Tilted Kilt ad on ON looks a lot like Cam Barker? Freaks me out a little every time.

  7. FPB94 says:

    Gainey (I believe) is an okay GM at the pro level.

    I think his area where he’s the best is managing the minors. In his stance we constantly had dominating AHL teams where we produced NHL players out of 2nd tier prospects. (Plekanec, Halak, Kostitsyn, etc)

    He’s a great guy for development. (Well until they hit the pros)

  8. TheOtherJohn says:

    Think Gainey has had success post his playing career…….. in Minnesota, Dallas and with Montreal.

    Its not like Gainey’s teams were in the playoffs 3/4 times over a dozen years with none under a new collective agreement

    LT the excerpt you quoted is exactly where the OIl are at. Some very nice pieces but lots of holes which many here believe will, magically, be filled by prospects all panning out

  9. fuzzy muppet says:

    commonfan14: Has anyone else noticed that the girl in the Tilted Kilt ad on ON looks a lot like Cam Barker?Freaks me out a little every time.

    I guess I’ve never noticed she had a face….

    Juvenile jokes are the best!

  10. Ducey says:

    So the Habs need a GM that is bilingual with GM experience.

    Kevin Lowe?

  11. pboy says:

    DUCEY, I post this in the last thread:

    K-Lowe was born and raised in Quebec, maybe he would be a good fit as the new head of Hockey Operations for the Habs? He could even hire his buddy Tambo to be his GM there! The Molson family would be crazy not to snap these two up.

  12. Bos8 says:

    I’ve been a fan of Gainey’s forever. Was always pumping him as the quintessential hockey player. To my chagrin it was the dirty Russians that agreed with me. Never lived it down.

    The difference between Heaven and Hell is the company you keep.

    Gainey would be of the former. Kick back over a beer and listen.

  13. regwald says:

    Hell, I have a buddy who grew up a Habs fan and ever since the Patrick Roy rumours started I have been giving him a hard time. He and I both agree Roy would cause riots in Montreal with his antics and his temper and ego.

    When I told him about the Pierre MacGuire rumours he wanted to cry. He was then hoping on Roy … LOL

  14. Bar_Qu says:

    Interesting that the Habs have let their boat anchors go, but the Oilers have not. Dunno if that is a tell or not.

    OTOH, more big brains in the Oilers office couldn’t hurt. If Gainey is that guy, then by all means.

    BTW, I loved Willis’ take on who the big beneficiary of the rebuild was. Priceless.

  15. Ducey says:

    Bar_Qu:
    Interesting that the Habs have let their boat anchors go, but the Oilers have not. Dunno if that is a tell or not.

    Expectations. I watched the Flames game last night and the Leafs game tonight. Both of those fanbases were led to believe they were not going for a full rebuild and were going to make the playoffs. Both fanbases are pissed.

  16. "Steve Smith" says:

    Ducey,

    I can only imagine what that must be like.

    No, wait , not “imagine”: “remember”.

  17. Lowetide says:

    I’m really interested in what the Habs will do. It’ll be a Quebec solution, and because they’re going to thin the herd based on language we’re talking about wild, crazy possibilities worthy of Dylan’s imagery. Ballad of a Thin Man, or Senor.

  18. Ducey says:

    “Steve Smith”:
    Ducey,

    I can only imagine what that must be like.

    No, wait , not “imagine”: “remember”.

    I think your average Oilers fan is closer to “tired of the rebuild” than anger. Both Calgary and Toronto got booed off the ice. In Toronto they were also cheering “lets go Blue Jays”.

    The NYI win tonight puts then 6 pts ahead of the Oilers and pretty much guarantees the Oilers a bottom 5 finish. They can only drop one spot in the lottery right?

  19. Ducey says:

    Lowetide:
    I’m really interested in what the Habs will do. It’ll be a Quebec solution, and because they’re going to thin the herd based on language we’re talking about wild, crazy possibilities worthy of Dylan’s imagery. Ballad of a Thin Man, or Senor.

    Yeah, they could go from bad to worse. Patrick Roy says he doesn’t want to be GM and wants to coach. However, he wants to control player personnel moves. That would make the GM’s job very tough.

  20. FPB94 says:

    LT: IMO. They’l try to get the french guy out of colorado.

    And they’l go for a grandslam with Roy behind the bench and go to draft Grigorenko.

  21. FastOil says:

    Gainey was a favourite player of mine (behind Lafleur) as a kid. As a GM he has let a lot of very good hockey players go, like Higgins who is now with the Canuckleheads who drives great numbers.

    Gainey moved far too many good players to be considered a good GM. Eilte players IMO don’t understand what a player who is very good but not HOF looks like because they foil them against themselves. No one will work as hard as Gainey or Gretzky or Lemieux did. It’s what set them apart.

    The best coaches and GM’s overall if former players come from pluggers. They had to think about the game as opposed to play by their elite instincts.

  22. Gerta Rauss says:

    MPS recalled from OKC this morning

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