Montreal Canadiens: Is Geoff Molson Risking A Sacred Public Trust?

Rosalyn RoyContributor IIIDecember 17, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - DECEMBER 15:  Erik Cole #72 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates his second period goal with team mate P.K. Subban #76 during the NHL game against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre on December 15, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  The Canadiens defeated the Islanders 5-3.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

According to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, Geoff Molson has described his ownership of the Montreal Canadiens as a sacred public trust.

As a member of the public, I currently don’t trust Geoff Molson as far as I can throw him. That’s how little confidence I have left in the team this year.

Sure, the Habs are completely capable of, and perhaps even likely to, scrape into the bottom rung of the playoff ladder.

Maybe they’ll even go on another Cinderella-at-the-Ball fairytale adventure like they did in the 2010 playoffs. But that’s as far as I’m willing to believe.

This team has one problem after another, pretty much all of which I have gone about ad nauseum.

Ineffective coaching? Check.

An archaic system? Check.

Not putting players in a position to succeed? Check.

Injury woes? Check.

Slumping players? Check.

I’m not sure how Pierre Gauthier will successfully juggle the cap over the summer given the recent acquisition of Tomas Kaberle, on top of the current albatross salary of Scott Gomez and, more recently, Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.

But apparently I’m to have faith that it will be juggled.

I’m not sure that Montreal Canadiens' owner Geoff Molson will agree to pay Scott Gomez a whole lot of money to do nothing, even assuming the upcoming new CBA will allow it, but apparently I’m to have blind faith that he will eat those millions of dollars and then restock the barn, so to speak.

I’m not sure how Alexei Emelin is going to become part of the core future of this team, since he’s destined for a quick return trip to the pressbox once Raphael Diaz gets over his flu. Apparently I’m to have faith that it will be so.

I’m not sure that Louis Leblanc, under the defense-first-at-all-costs coaching of Jacques Martin, will morph into a goal scorer, but apparently I’m to have faith that he will be the next French Canadian home-grown superstar.

I believe in what I see, in what the record shows—and currently it is asking an incredible amount of blind faith here that I simply no longer possess with this team.

Do I expect PK Subban to be one of the league’s best blueliners in a couple of years? Absolutely. Do I expect Max Pacioretty to become a sought-after power forward? Yes.

There’s no denying their talents, and do not get me started on Carey Price, who has proven himself worthy and finally ready of the coveted starter’s position he now holds.

Where I lack the most faith is in the management of this team, and that is hard to overcome.

I had a friend tell me that the Habs lacked a true superstar. My response was that even if they possessed a Sidney Crosby or a Jonathan Toews, he’d likely get less ice time than Mathieu Darche under this system and this coach.

And even if said young superstar existed, the second he made a mistake the coach would regretfully lament his youth and the fact that he was still learning to all Montreal media, regardless of how well he was doing, or how poorly his veteran teammates were performing.

As it stands, any potential Habs superstar is fighting an uphill battle the second he steps on the ice. Under incredible pressure he must either perform to Maurice Richard levels or risk the wrath of the fans.

Under the existing coach he must perform to perfection regardless of youth or inexperience, or be parked in the pressbox for a more favoured and usually less productive veteran teammate.

No one is ever perfect, let alone a rookie. It’s a lose-lose situation.

Louis Leblanc scored his first goal, in front of a hometown crowd, as no doubt he oft dreamt of doing as a young boy watching his heroes take to the ice wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge.

I no longer trust the current Canadiens coach to put him in a position to succeed, nor to hone his lovely skills. It is not flattering to Jacques Martin that I would rather see Leblanc returned to the AHL where he could skate under less pressure and with a different coach.

Nor is it flattering to Pierre Gauthier that I fully anticipate that Josh Gorges and Andrei Kostitsyn, two important and underrated players, will find themselves with new teams next season.

Gorges was given only a one-year deal despite his proven worth to the team, and Kostitsyn has found himself in the doghouse with his coach far more often than has been justifiable.

The Habs will regret losing either, let alone both, for Tomas Kaberle.

While Kaberle will help quarterback the power play this season and perhaps make a difference in the pursuit of a lower playoff berth, to me Gauthier looks like he’s trying to scramble to cover the mistake of resigning the chronically injured Andrei Markov to what clearly has become another albatross of a deal.

If and when Markov ever returns—and that’s a huge if—Kaberle becomes redundant, and he’s far less sound defensively than Markov.

If Markov never returns, perhaps the Kaberle deal is more palatable, but again it strikes me as a crapshoot and not sound logic just to make a postseason wherein Molson can keep his shareholders happy by gouging the fans for nothing more than a fairytale.

This team is not a contender. Nor do I see its middle-of-the-road-draft-pick prospect pool as a beacon of light in the distance. The Habs organization has been mediocre for over 18 years in its free-agent signings, in its prospects and in its on-ice product.

The only place this team excels anymore is in its impeccable marketing.


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