MONTREAL – In mid-November, being the keener I am, I tried to prepare a few articles in advance for the holidays.
At the time, the Montreal Canadiens were solidly in first place and had a 17-4-2 record.
I wrote: “I can’t remember a season beyond 1993 where the possibility of a Cup was so real. It just feels like everything is in the right place, everything is firing and every night can result in a win.”
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Well, that just shows where trying to be prepared can get you.
We’re now just past the halfway point of the season and what started with so much promise has fallen apart.
It’s not just the losses that hurt.
It’s not the motivation or worst, the desperation, that’s alarming.
It’s the sense that the team is lacking direction.
There are rumours of a coaching change if the Canadiens keep dropping games at this rate.
Michel Therrien is only in his first year of a four year contract extension and has always had haters in Montreal.
General manager Marc Bergevin had his doubters crop up in the past week.
The honeymoon after picking up Tomas Fleischmann on a professional tryout and acquiring shorthanded specialist Paul Byron has worn off.
In its wake are questions over the John Scott/Jarred Tinordi trade and debate over why the team hasn’t picked up a power right-winger to ease some of the pressure on Brendan Gallagher.
Therrien always had his nay-sayers.
Most, including myself, regarded Bergevin as some sort of negotiation genius (and not just by bribing players with poutine).
But coaching and managing doesn’t always turn a team around.
Case in point: the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Despite their much lauded hiring of Stanley Cup winner and Olympic gold medallist coach Mike Babcock, the team sits in last place in the Atlantic division and second last in the Eastern conference.
The Eastern Conference standings.
This is a team that has known hardship and has faced losing streaks (2011-2012 anyone?)
It’s up to the players to lead because it seems like that direction isn’t coming from behind the bench.
Ultimately, the wins and losses are decided on the ice and not in the boardroom.