MONTREAL- Ten days after being relieved of the job he loved as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Guy Carbonneau spoke about the experience to the media for the first time.
Although visibly nervous upon entering the Bell Centre press conference, he quickly demonstrated he was his old self, proud and calm, and even joked about the fact that Wednesday was his 49th birthday.
"Why do you think I chose today," he asked. "I wanted to make sure there would be lots of people for my party." Carbonneau said he was shocked by the surprise move from Habs GM Bob Gainey and maintained he still isn't sure why he was fired. He added he was convinced he could have turned his team around in time for the playoffs.
"Even if the team wasn't playing well, I wasn't expecting this decision. I thought we were going in the right direction," he said.
Carbonneau said he had been counting on the return of injured players to get back on track. "I really thought we had the potential to get through it. My hope was that once in the playoffs, we would be able pull some surprises." Carbonneau brushed aside criticism regarding his perceived problems communicating. "Communication goes both ways. One person speaks, one person listens; one person answers or doesn't answer," he said.
"I definitely had faults. I tried to correct them, but you don't do that overnight. I think at every game I became a better coach. That's was I hoped to keep doing." Carbonneau stayed very positive regarding his relationship with Gainey and the rest of the team and said he didn't believe he'd lost the playersı confidence.
"I don't think so. I learned a long time ago that in a team a third of players love you, a third of players don't like you and the other third you try to win over."
It's not abnormal for players to not be happy about ice time or things like that," he added. "But we had a good attitude; I liked the atmosphere on the team." He did, however, note that the high number of free agents on the team made his job more complicated. "It was a difficult situation.
You see some of the figures paid to certain players. Everyone wants a piece for himself."
Asked if this would be a good time to get rid of some 'bad apples' on the Habs roster, he told reporters the task was now in Gainey's hands, but that he still had ideas of who he would keep on the team or not. "That's a conversation I'd like to have with Bob, but that will stay between he and I."
Carbonneau reiterated his support for his former team and said he would like to stay on in hockey in some capacity.
"I am and always have been crazy about hockey and a Canadiens fan. I sincerely wish them the best of luck for the rest of the season."