Montreal - Feb. 10, 2011 - Still think Jacques Martin is the kind of guy you want coaching a team in a heated and heightened environment? What a pathetic site Martin was behind the Habs bench in Boston as Claude Julien and the Bruins again exposed him for the anal retentive hockey nerd that he is. What was even more pathetic was Jacques walking towards the officials room whining to veteran referee Don Van Massenhoven about...about...about, what exactly? That he put his own players in peril and it was up to the officials to save them?
The physical battering the Canadiens took in Boston reminded me of two games in particular. One very recent, the other, now almost ancient history. Back in the early 1970's, two to three years before Montreal dethroned the Broad Street Bullies, the Habs played a game at the Spectrum which featured more snow being scraped up by Montreal skates than at any other time post - John Ferguson. GM Sam Pollack vowed to never again see one of his teams intimidated to that extent. In the 1974 draft, owning five first round picks, Pollack used them to select Cam Connor, Doug Risebrough, Rick Chartraw, Mario Tremblay and Gordie McTavish. In the second round he drafted Gilles Lupien. McTavish never made it to Montreal but the other five sure did (although Connor jumped to the WHA where he became a feared fighter/scorer for the Phoenix Roadrunners before finally landing in Montreal in time for their 4th straight Stanley Cup win in 1979).
A couple of years ago, very late in the regular season, the Habs went into Boston and the Bruins tried a similar tactic. They pummelled and punched and did their best to intimidate the Habs who, to their credit, kept coming back via the power play. Veteran referee Paul Devorski seemed to enjoy the show so much that he was actually reprimanded by his superiors for allowing Boston to do their best to bully the much smaller Canadiens. It didn't matter. A couple of weeks later Boston swept Bob Gainey and the Habs in four straight games and many of the players of that series and season were not invited back to Montreal.
It might have been noble of Gainey, a member of the NHL's competition comittee, to believe that his team would be protected by the league and it's officials, but it was also very naive.
Now we have the Canadiens edition of The Boston Massacre. This was overdue and as predictable as the "f### me" phrase Martin uses over and over - usually when Andrei Kostitsyn or Scott Gomez are on the ice. You'd have to be Stevie Wonder (or Devorski) not to see how badly the Canadiens have needed size and toughness at both ends of the ice. Yet the charade continues. Ryan White goes to Hamilton while Tom Pyatt skates miles around NHL rinks. Alex Henry doesn't make the team but Alexandre Picard does. Milan Lucic does what he wants and only Carey Price seems willing to challenge him.
Martin believes in systems not people. If you can skate and play well positionally you've got a job for life in Martinville, regardless of whether you can actually win puck battles, grow - not shrink - on the road or, heaven forbid, drop your gloves and risk taking an extra two minutes. It's amazing to me, really it is, that this guy has lasted as long as he has in the NHL. He's almost perfected a formula for failure. And when he has his coaching handbook handed back to him , or more accurately, shoved up his a## by people like Claude Julien, Martin's defenders will claim it's not about Jacques.
But of course it is. Welcome to Jacques Martin's hockey world. Where the chickens always come home to roost.
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