Oh the Drama: A Proud Bob Gainey Resigns from his Duties

Sebastien TremblayCorrespondent IFebruary 9, 2010

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27:  Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens photographed during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Oh the drama!


Bob Gainey resigns as general manager. His reason for jumping overboard? He wants to play the piano. No, seriously, Gainey felt he did not have the motivation to stay for another long term deal.


Looking at the work he’s done since he got to Montreal, I’ll have to give him a passing grade, but just barely.


It’s not easy rate Bob Gainey’s tenure as general manager of the hockey hotbed that is Montreal. I can already hear both sides arguing!


Side A: « Bob Gainey did a good job, he changed the team’s philosophy and brought in new, younger talent to replace the older ones. He did what he could with the tools he had available in one of the toughest hockey market in the world. »


Side B: « Bob was horrible. He spent five years driving the team to the ground. He replaced aging players with younger ones that don’t provide anything more. His inaction at the trade deadline hurt the team and the players he drafted are yet to become reliable NHL players. »


And both sides would be right.


But in my personal opinion, his days in Montreal were numbered and he was very aware of it. Gainey has always been a very proud man with strong convictions which is likely what led to his demise. He knew that if his rebuilt Montreal Canadiens didn’t show enough promise this season, his job as general manager would be over. But instead of waiting for Damocles sword to fall on him, he chose to leave.


I remember saying after the horrible 2008-09 season, that Gainey’s biggest flaw was his inability to accept defeat and that he would rather leave than feel humiliated. I’m not so sure anymore.


Of course, many many rumours have started flying around since this announcement. The most interesting one being that Gainey was apparently told by management that Carey Price was going to be traded. And Gainey, standing by his decision to make Price the future of the franchise, did not agree and would rather resign than be «humiliated».


As I said, Bob is a proud man, and to disapprove of his plan would mean to disapprove of him.


Is that true? I doubt it. Especially after what Pierre Gauthier said in the following press conference. Yes Gainey is a proud man, but he’s also an honest man. To my surprise, Gainey admitted some of his mistakes and called them « failures ». He failed to make the Canadiens a regular top five team. He failed when he thought bringing in Georges Laraque would help the team.


He failed many trades he thought would bring more stability to the team (Jose Theodore, Mike Ribeiro, Radek Bonk etc...). Looking at the on-ice result this year, he also failed his summer reconstruction. But most of all, he failed to make the Canadiens a Stanley cup contender for the centennial festivities.


Maybe those «failures » weight in the balance when he chose to retire. He probably felt the new owners had a much different vision for the team and that himself was no longer « part of the plans » just like half of the 2008-09 edition of the Montreal Canadiens he let go to free agency.


We’ll probably know a lot more about this decision in a couple years.


Remember Guy Carbonneau saying « the truth will come out eventually » after he got fired last season? Now we may finally know what that « truth » was...curiosity is killing me right now!


How should we evaluate Gainey’s tenure as a general manager in Montreal? By the results on the ice obviously but also by what happened outside.


Gainey’s time in Montreal was punctuated by drama and unnecessary distractions. But to his defense, the team was much better during those six he was general manager than it was in the six years before. Bob leaves with a record of 241-176-46-7, good for winning percentage of .569.


But the team never made it past the second round of playoffs under his management. That’s still pretty good and very acceptable considering the team was already on a downward spiral when he took over.


His summer overhaul brought in new, younger talent. But didn’t make the team much better than it was. Gainey probably felt if Philadelphia could rebuild within a year, why not Montreal?! Because we don’t have the prospects.


This is likely the biggest hole Bob Gainey leaves behind. Experts and analysts say Gainey and Timmins are good for drafting young talent. I beg to differ. I strongly beg to differ. Somehow, a team that was ranked in the top three of the NHL in prospect depth for years suddenly dropped to the bottom ten under Gainey’s management.


So where is all that great drafting? In my opinion, the Gainey/Timmins tandem basically depleted the talent pool by trading prospects, picks and drafting average players. And might I remind you that Pierre Gauthier is also involved being the drafting process being the director of professional scouting since 2003. So don’t expect the prospect pool to be much different than it is.


The drama was mostly caused by Bob Gainey’s decisions or inaction. Some decisions were doubtful, some plain atrocious. Remember Janne Niinima? The trade who sent Mike Ribeiro to Dallas? Then Radek Bonk? How about David Aebischer? Or the recently acquired Scott Gomez?


Some will argue these trades needed to be made. That a dressing room cleanup was necessary. Gainey didn’t do worse than his predecessors, but certainly didn’t do much better either.



His inaction at the trade deadline angered fans who felt Gainey could’ve made some moves to help his team. Bob was always conservative and always believed in the players he had already signed. That may have been another flaw, being conservative, Bob often opted for inaction, missing many opportunities to make his team better.


Now for those of you who think the new regime under Pierre Gauthier will bring a breath of fresh air and new horizons will be disappointed. There is a reason why Gauthier was Bob Gainey’s right hand man. They both share the same brain! It’s just basically a switch in the « language barrier ».


Gainey speaks better English than Gauthier, and Gauthier speaks better French than Gainey. But in the end, Pierre Gauthier has pretty much the same ideas but he might be a bit more...vocal about his plans than Gainey was.


In conclusion, we could never tell what Bob Gainey had planned. « Only Bob knows what Bob knows » I kept reading on blogs and articles. But trust me, Pierre Gauthier know what Bob was thinking. So if the past is any indication of the future...don’t expect much change in the direction the Montreal Canadiens is taking.


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