Montreal Canadiens Fire GM Pierre Gauthier: Is Patrick Roy Next Habs GM?
The Montreal Canadiens fired general manager Pierre Gauthier, opening the door to speculation that Patrick Roy could return to the Habs organization.
The Montreal Canadiens fired Pierre Gauthier as their general manager after the Habs have fell to last place in the Eastern Conference in the midst of a truly awful season. However, Gauthier’s hands were tied in terms of roster moves and cap space for this season. He had no options to improve this team by spending money, as he was forced to hold back in order to ensure the cap space to sign franchise goaltender Carey Price and iron-man defenseman P.K. Subban. With no moves to be made without jeopardizing the future of the franchise, what exactly did the Montreal Canadiens expect from this season?
If the Canadiens had playoff expectations for this season simply because they’re the Canadiens, the organization made a mistake in evaluating the talent of their roster. This season has squandered a breakout season from Max Pacioretty, but the regression of support players and a lack of scoring depth hurt the Habs. Erik Cole has been one of the best players on the Canadiens, and the lone “splash” the Habs made this offseason through Gauthier. The roster was short, in talent and depth, but we knew that going into this season. This year was about protecting themselves for next year and keeping their franchise players in Montreal.
The coaching change, and ultimately the change at GM, were a result of high expectations that did not align with the talent of the roster. Firing Jacques Martin brought only a mild spark to a team that was completely lost, and the GM change will likely do the same. The offseason moves that the Habs will be able to make are locked into resigning Carey Price and P.K. Subban. As such, Patrick Roy or any other stud general manager can do no better than Pierre Gauthier.
Pierre Gauthier ran into trouble for a number of reasons that go beyond missed expectations. While I think his track record and time with the organization made the move somewhat controversial, his appointment of English-speaking Randy Cunneyworth angered many Habs fans. Sometimes, the key to appeasing the crowd in Montreal is being terrible in the correct language. Additionally, the way Gauthier handled the trade of Mike Cammalleri was an absolute atrocity. One of the faces of the franchise was moved suddenly and awkwardly for a player of a lesser caliber. His poor management of the coaching situation and ineffective deadline moves, also handled poorly, made firing Pierre Gauthier a reasonable measure going forward.
Still, it seems foolish to think that Patrick Roy or any other GM has any hope of recouping the glory of the Habs franchise in the immediate future. The roster has too many holes and the priority signings are outlined too clearly. Carey Price will be the goalie of the future, regardless of his extended slumps and poor play this season. P.K. Subban will be the anchor of the defense, despite lacking a legitimate supporting cast. Both players will tie up most of the Habs’ cap space, leaving Pacioretty as the only elite weapon the Canadiens have offensively. Ultimately, the Habs are likely doomed to another year of mediocrity, pending the play of streaky goaltender Carey Price.
This tie to Carey Price is what makes firing Paul Gauthier, at the very least, an interesting decision. Gauthier is the GM that decided to move Jaroslav Halak and keep the All-Star goalie. Gauthier took over the Habs after they rode Halak to the Eastern Conference Finals before locking onto the promising Carey Price, who has been a top goaltender since. However, the team has never looked as good as they did in 2010. After falling to an arch-rival Boston Bruins team during their Stanley Cup run last season, the Habs have slipped below the New York Islanders this season. It’s no surprise Gauthier was fired after such a dreadful year, and his controversial and ineffective moves probably made the decision relatively easy. Still, I don’t think the future looks all too promising for a new GM with no freedom to manipulate the roster.
Good luck, Patrick Roy.
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