Montreal Canadiens: New GM will face monumental task
Here, apart from the obvious tasks – such as finding a great coach and getting better players – are five things the new GM has to do:
1. Persuade the organization to stop using the exhibition season as a cash cow: As my mentor, Pat Hickey, wrote earlier this season, the number of exhibition games the Canadiens had to play weighed heavily on a terrible start that turned into a terrible season. The club had to keep too many players in camp and there was no time to work on the little things that make all the difference once the puck is dropped for real. Which would you rather have? A half-dozen meaningless exhibition games – or a half-dozen home playoff games?
2. Find someone who can coach the power play: With Kirk Muller in Carolina, the Canadiens stumbled and fumbled as one of their strengths became a weakness. They scored 24 fewer power-play goals this season than last season: apply that to the goal differential and they finish a plus-10 rather than a minus-14.
3. Throw the expensive deadwood overboard: If you don’t want to play here or if you’re simply on cruise control while you cash your fat cheques, get out of town. That applies to Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle and especially Rene Bourque, who is – like Stéphane Richer back in the day – apparently waiting for Jupiter to align with Mars.
4. Four lines, not 1.5: Yes, guys like Brian Gionta, Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche were injured – but to excel, you need enough depth so that you’re not breathing fumes when you get the inevitable injuries.
5. No sacred cows – and that includes Carey Price: It’s hard to find anyone around here who hasn’t drunk the Kool-Aid where Price is concerned – and yet any dispassionate observer would have to conclude that so far in his career, Price has lived up to the hype only once in five seasons. That was during the 2010-11 season, when he was very good, although still well behind Tim Thomas for the season.