Canadians need a coaching staff who understands the state of the team


When Jeff Gorton took his place in the Montreal Canadiens organization, he declared his intention to keep the current coaching staff in place at least until the end of the season. Now it is true that there is no good reason not to take Gorton at his word. He’s not been the type not to tell the truth when speaking to fans and the media. Gorton also clarified that his first major job was to hire a new general manager for the Canadiens to work alongside him as they tried to sift through the mess left behind by Marc Bergevin.

The GM remains the bulk of Gorton’s job, there are transactions to be made and many list decisions that need to be analyzed by front office staff, so it is imperative that they be put in place. However, right now there is a huge issue that the Canadiens face at all levels, and that is that the coaching staff doesn’t seem to have a clue of how to navigate this tough season.

On their current seven-game losing record, the Canadiens have scored a total of 10 goals while giving in 24, and the team have the dubious honor of being the first team to suffer 20 losses this season. Since the likely end goal is to pick the lottery and potentially add a franchise-modifying star like Shane Wright, the losses are good. What’s wrong is repeatedly losing in listless, boring, outright bad matches where no one seems to be prepared for anything.

In fairness to Dominique Ducharme and his staff, the Canadiens lead the NHL in the number of games per man lost to injury, while not having both Shea Weber and Carey Price at any point. This year. Before the game against the St. Louis Blues, the Habs had just under $ 52 million on the injured list, they then added Jake Evans to that list as he’s now also on the day-to-day. As a coach, dealing with so many injuries is as fatal a blow as one can take, but the issues extend beyond injuries because even when it was only Joel Edmundson and Price missing to be on the line. team, nothing seemed to be right.

At the time of writing, the Canadiens power play ranked 30th in the NHL at 12.8%. Sure, injuries hampered that part of the special teams, but the coaching staff wasn’t getting much in terms of output from either unit. It took the staff nearly 30 games to put Cole Caufield and Mike Hoffman in the same unit, having put the two in separate units for most of the season. Even more mind-boggling is that the staff don’t seem too keen to use Caufield heavily on the man’s advantage, often leaving him off the ice in the most critical situations.

A penalty kill that was nearly unbeatable in the playoffs has been anything but this year. At a rate of 71.0% (30th in the NHL), it remains a frequent disaster most nights and it contained almost all of the same staff as last year before the injuries occurred. At some point, the coaches of these special teams have to recognize that their initial plans don’t work and things need to be changed. If your future in Montreal is on the line, why do you keep trying to force a square peg into a round hole?

Perhaps the biggest sticking point with how this season has gone so far is the use of young players or prospects. Throughout this season’s drudgery, the coaching staff didn’t trust the club’s future stalwarts to handle greater amounts of ice time. We saw Caufield play eight minutes a night and Mattias Norlinder play roughly the same as a seventh defenseman.

This season is almost lost unless there is an absolutely miraculous turnaround in the New Year. Now is the time to give young people more responsibility. If Ducharme wants to insist on doing the opposite, then Gorton and the next GM might be forced to go back on their initial words. The Vancouver Canucks have fired their coach and general manager and have yet to lose under newly hired Bruce Boudreau. Chicago, while still likely to miss the playoffs, has also seen improvements since its coach’s sacking.

If the Canadiens are to rebuild themselves around young players, they need a coach who is ready to let young people play in high leverage situations. Ducharme isn’t doing this currently, damn it, he wasn’t even playing one of his healthy crosses in his natural position, and the reasoning behind that doesn’t make much sense either.

This quote comes from a coach who appears to be afraid of taking risks, which would be understandable if the Habs were in the playoff race. The point is, the Canadiens have won six games all year and it’s almost 2022. Bad excuses, bad tactics and generally tough decision-making put Montreal’s new front office in a tough spot. They said the staff will be given until the end of the season, but if that’s all they’re capable of with their future on the line, maybe it would be better to cut the bait.

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