Thursday, March 15, 2012

"You're Not a Wartime Consigliere, (Pierre)"

From the Godfather (an exchange between Michael Corleone and his lawyer/advisor Tom Hagen)
Michael: "You're out Tom."
Tom: "Why?"
Michael: "You're not a wartime consigliere, Tom. Things may get rough with the move we're trying."
In a nutshell, that summarizes Pierre Gauthier's reign as General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

I'll be the first to admit that although I was never a big fan of Pierre's prior to his promotion to GM, I also wasn't one who thought he didn't have the skill or know-how for the job. Starting with his first trade that brought Dominic Moore to the Canadiens (a trade that I was initially against), but he slowly and surely won me over with smart, rational and calculated moves that kept the Canadiens competitive and relatively successful.

What's clear to me today though, is that although Pierre Gauthier may be a worthy GM when it comes to tweaking or adjusting a winning team, he is certainly not a good GM when a crisis arises. The biggest mistake of his tenure so far surely has to be the Spacek for Kaberle trade. That mammoth of a mistake has had far-reaching repercussions that have forced further disaster and will continue to affect the Canadiens negatively.

To panic and get rid of a contract that had handicapped you for 3 years in Spacek's just about when it was coming to an end and saddling yourself with an even worse contract (that of Kaberle's) was unthinkable and a major mistake. Not only was the band-aid solution a complete failure but it added yet another 3 years to the Habs' payroll of an overpaid, underachieving defenseman just as we were about to rid ourselves of the exact same problem.

Kaberle even while producing somewhat respectable numbers wasn't the solution to the ailing Montreal Canadiens and to risk so much in such a tight cap-world was sheer lunacy. What it led to was the necessity for management to shed salary and to do so in a desperate fashion. So where did they shed that salary? They got rid of the best clutch playoff performer that Habs' fans had seen in quite some time - Michael Cammalleri.

You can believe the rumors, the poorly translated quotes and the rest of the garbage that surrounded Cammalleri's departure but at the end of the day what you lost was a bonafide goal-scorer and game-breaker who had proven on countless occasions that when the chips counted, you could count on him. The Montreal Canadiens lost a true first line winger and for what? Because he had a strong opinion about his team's poor play? Well guess what? He was dead on accurate! Just as Max Pacioretty was when he was blunt about not wanting to be called up to play in the bottom six. Look at how that turned out?

Show me all the numbers and statistics you want but at the end of the day, Pierre Gauthier due to that terrible Kaberle trade had no choice but to get rid of salary. What better player to get rid of than the one that just called out his team's poor play. So what did we get for a smart, cerebral and clutch player?

We got a borderline (if we're lucky) second-line winger with size (who doesn't use it nearly enough) and the hockey IQ of a dunce. I've never seen such a continuous string of poor decisions made by a player in such a short period of time. Does Rene Bourque have all the assets to be a great player? Sure! He has size, a certain skill-set and a solid shot but unfortunately, he doesn't know how to outsmart the opponent and at this level of the game, you need that!

And for the statisticians out there, sure Rene Bourque may have had similar numbers to Mike in the past couple of years but that's with the fact that Cammalleri clearly had under-par years. I guess we also all decided to forget the six or seven posts that Mike hit early in the season. Sometimes, that's all it takes. An inch here or there and a struggling player all of a sudden is doing alright and if they're doing alright then maybe they're carrying that added confidence that helps them push to the next level.

My feeling throughout is that when the tough got going, Pierre Gauthier went crumbling. He multiplied one mistake (Kaberle) with another (Cammalleri) and everything snow-balled from there. So, what's done is done but going forward what was it again that Michael Corleone said to his lawyer and consigliere?
Michael: "You're out Tom."
Tom: "Why?"
Michael: "You're not a wartime consigliere, Tom. Things may get rough with the move we're trying."
Things are certainly going to get rough with the move the Habs are going to try now (a rebuild) and Pierre Gauthier is most definitely not a wartime GM and should therefore be out as soon as the season comes to an end (which unfortunately will be far too early this year).
What do you think?  Was Pierre a failure from the start, did he choke when things got tough or do you still think he's doing all he can?  Post your thoughts below, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

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