Habs sailing with a broken rudder, may drift this off-season

08Jun10

It has only been nine days since the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs following a highly improbable cinderella run to the Eastern Conference Final.

But the good vibes that permeated the air in Montreal during the Habs’ run are quickly turning to feelings of despair, or at least concern. Last week, Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier cut six scouts from the team’s already limited scouting department.

He has indicated they may not be replaced.

The team made over $20 million in gate receipts from their playoff home games, but it’s cutting personnel? Troubling.

It doesn’t end with the slashing of scouting, though. Today, the Canadian Press is reporting that Guy Boucher, the head coach of the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in Hamilton, and the presumed heir apparent to current Habs coach Jacques Martin, has accepted the head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nine days, six lost scouts, one superb coaching prospect lost. Very troubling indeed.

Gauthier has indicated he doesn’t have plans to drastically alter the face of this team heading into the 2010-2011 season. But the changes within the organization have already been palpable.

Heading into the draft this month, the Habs look a bit like a ship with a broken rudder — sure, they might find their way back to dry land, but there doesn’t appear to be much of a plan in place for what they might do when they get there, and furthermore, they are going to be beaten to that dry land by a couple dozen other NHL teams.

I have no idea what Gauthier might have in mind — he’s very much like his predecessor, Bob Gainey, in playing his cards relatively close to his vest — but his work so far this off-season leaves me questioning where this team is headed.

The questions outnumber the answers in Montreal so far this off-season.

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