Confusion surrounds Habs' firing

Perry Pearn instructs Canadiens players during practice in Brossard, Que., Oct. 21, 2011. (MARTIN...

Perry Pearn instructs Canadiens players during practice in Brossard, Que., Oct. 21, 2011. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:21 PM ET

MONTREAL - Well, Perry Pearn has got some time on his hands now.

Fired as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens 90 minutes before the Habs got their first home win of the season, maybe Pearn could head to one of those Occupy Wall Street protests. He could help protesters organize their power play or show them how to break out of their tented village.

Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier made it sound like Pearn was a victim of some kind corporate downsizing, a victim of the unjust world economy.

It had nothing to do with the Habsí power play, ranked 29th in the league going into Wednesday's game, for which Pearn had at least shared responsibility.

It had little to do with the Canadiensí poor start, which included an unprecedented five games at home without a win.

Gauthier sounded more like an executive at General Motors in charge of transmissions than a guy entrusted with an iconic sports and cultural institution whose performance right now has fans here running around the city like their red, white and blue hair is on fire.

ďItís more the result of a change from a global perspective, a big picture perspective. We need to be better at what we do. We need to be more efficient. In order to do that, that is one of the changes we decided to make,Ē said Gauthier.

OK.

The Habs were in the throes of their worst home start in history until Wednesday nightís win. Winger Max Pacioretty went from game-time decision with a sore wrist to scoring two goals and adding an assist while goaltender Carey Price played like last season's Carey Price in the 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Price switched back to his white pads after going 0-2-2 while playing with pads that had pink accents on them. He wore them to promote cancer awareness month. He said after the game it was strongly suggested he make the switch.

ďI donít want to say who, but it came from pretty high up,Ē he said.

Which, after I tweeted that quote Wednesday night, several fans insisted the call came from The Big Guy himself.

If He actually cared, even He would be shaking his head over what is going on with la Sainte Flanelle.

Firing an assistant coach -- especially one as respected as Pearn -- hardly seems like the appropriate measure given the team had actually played decently lately.

Either do nothing or go all the way. Say, "look, we havenít had some of our best players and weíre going to stay the course. We believe in this group." Or fire head coach Jacques Martin.

Maybe it was just as simple as Pearnís vision, his philosophy, whatever, didnít mesh with the rest of the group.

All of it Wednesday night -- the timing, the victim, the explanation -- was a touch on the bizarre side, no?

ďWeíre going to function out of the box a little more than we have. This is one thing that is part of that change,Ē said Gauthier.

This was out of the box and out of left field.

Randy Ladouceur, promoted along with Randy Cunneyworth to assistant jobs after Kirk Muller left in the off-season, was in Pearnís place running the defence behind the Montreal bench Wednesday night.

Gauthier backed up Martin as his coach, said his players are still on board and said top defenceman Andrei Markov will return from Florida, where he has been rehabbing his knee for the last three weeks, Friday. Gauthier said Markov could be skating with the team as early as next week.

So, Pearn -- whose teams never once failed to make the playoffs in his 14 years as an assistant (eight in Ottawa, four with the New York Rangers and two with the Habs) -- takes the tumble and all those Habs fans who wanted somebody to pay a price for their teamís horrific start got thrown a bone.

Just guessing, but for most of them, that bone had the wrong name on it.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


Videos

Photos