Pierre Gauthier proved Saturday he’ll do anything to save his own butt.
Rather than shoulder the responsibility for a season that’s gone terribly wrong and make deals, the Montreal Canadiens sent coach Jacques Martin packing and replaced him with former Senators captain Randy Cunneyworth.
With the Habs struggling as they prepared to face the New Jersey Devils Saturday night at the Bell Centre, Martin joined what’s become a long list of unemployed bench bosses when he was given his walking papers by Gauthier in the morning.
Though Gauthier is the architect of this mess, he continues to do just about anything to lay the blame elsewhere. First, it was assistant coach Perry Pearn. Now, it’s the well-respected Martin who has been left looking for work.
The question is: Will this help and get Montreal to the playoffs? If it doesn’t, you can be certain Gauthier will be the next one looking for work.
Nobody is thrilled with the job he’s done and sooner or later the buck will stop at his office.
The wrong man lost his job, but you have to think at some point or another they’ll come to their senses in Montreal and show Gauthier the door.
OFF THE GLASS
The landscape has changed and the Florida Panthers are doing some Christmas shopping. While the Panthers are usually trying to unload salaries, league sources told QMI Agency that GM Dale Tallon is pursuing another top six forward to make sure his club stays in the playoff race. With the Panthers battling for top spot in the East, Tallon is trying to bring in another scorer to take some of the heat off players up front. Since Tallon wants to minimize the disruption, sources say he’d like to move depth in goal by sending backup Scott Clemmensen packing. If his $1.5-million salary can be taken off the books, the Panthers will call up top prospect Jacob Markstrom for the second half ... Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi tried to make a deal before firing coach Terry Murray. Nobody was willing to bite on LW Dustin Penner and a coaching change was about the only move Lombardi could pull the trigger on. The decision to hire Darryl Sutter could be good in the short-term if that’s the fix the Kings need.
THIS ’N’ THAT
Florida’s Kevin Dineen has to be the top candidate for coach of the year. Sure, the Panthers made a lot of changes, but nobody expected Florida to be this improved and Dineen has been able to bring it all together ... Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff raised a few eyebrows by claiming LW Antti Miettinen on waivers after he signed a two-year, $3-million deal with Tampa. The move is within the rules, but it’s gutsy for a first-year GM. The Jets weren’t the only club that considered the option. “I’m pretty sure a lot of teams looked,” said a league executive. “It’s the second year of the deal you have to be concerned about.” Bolts GM Steve Yzerman took the risk that nobody would want to pay the $500,000 signing bonus included in the deal. The Jets needed depth up front.
THE MORNING SKATE
Speaking of Tampa, nobody is sure what’s going to happen because Yzerman plays it close to the vest, but there’s a lot of pressure on coach Guy Boucher to get the club back on track. He had success last season, but teams have figured out his system and suddenly Boucher doesn’t look so good ... Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher could make a move to bolster the club’s blue line before the February trade deadline. The Wild has depth in goal with backups Josh Harding and Matt Hackett. If Minny decides to add a blueliner, either could be used as trade bait ... There’s been serious talk among GMs about bringing back the red line. It’s been discussed and has a chance of being implemented.
RUMOURS DU JOUR
The talk is Carolina D Jaroslav Spacek shouldn’t get too comfortable in his new home. A pending unrestricted free agent July 1, he and D Tim Gleason (also a looming UFA) could be moved before the deadline. Don’t be surprised if the Wild make a play for both of these guys. Many wonder if GM Jim Rutherford may just order up a rebuild in Raleigh ... Keep an eye on Toronto GM Brian Burke at the deadline. League executives believe Burke is going to make a move and he’ll be working hard to find depth at centre. The Leafs aren’t shopping top prospect Nazem Kadri, who is currently with the AHL’s Marlies, but there will be plenty of interest if Burke decides he wants to bolster his club. The Leafs have decided that Joe Colbourne is ahead of Kadri on the depth chart and there’s going to be a lot of interest if Burke wants to move the youngster. As noted here last week, Columbus GM Scott Howson was recently scouting the AHL’s Marlies ... Here’s a novel approach: The Jackets are actually going to start playing C Derick Brassard more so they can showcase him and get him moved. Gosh, what a great idea. The Jackets want a player making $600,000 or less or a prospect in return.
This will be the final Rink Wrap column until after the New Year. Have a nice Sunday and a safe, happy holiday season.