Habs are a sinking ship
BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency
|Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri skates during the warmup prior to facing the Blues at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., Jan. 10, 2012. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)
MONTREAL - The good residents were hit here Friday with a blustery winter storm that pelted the area with plenty of snow, freezing rain and, at times, high winds.
While the clouds will move out and it'll take a few days to dig away at the snowbanks, the storm is nothing in comparison to the one that's taking place at the Bell Centre with the beloved Montreal Canadiens tumbling in the standings.
Looking like a man desperate to save his job -- and his self-proclaimed reputation as a genius -- Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier is like The Skipper from Gilligan's Island trying to plug holes in the S.S. Minnow. This is a sinking ship.
Continuing a string of stunning moves in an embarrassing season, Gauthier pulled off his latest head-scratcher by sending winger Michael Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames for underachieving forward Rene Bourque.
The move left the dressing room searching for answers.
"I don't know," said Habs winger Travis Moen when asked what he thought of the trade. "We're struggling as a team and changes have to be made. (Cammalleri) was a guy that we were able to move. Obviously, we've got to pick it up."
Sitting seven points out of a playoff spot, the reality is all that may be left for the Habs is to pick up the pieces of a lost season. Sure, they could go on some kind of run to make the playoffs, but they've shown no consistency.
The decision to deal for Bourque is a head-shaker. The Flames have been trying to move him since October and weren't able to find anybody to pick up his $3.33 million cap hit through the 2014-15 campaign.
Bourque is a decent player, but when he pulls on his No. 27 jersey Sunday in his debut against the New York Rangers, it's not like he's going to be the saviour in a season gone terribly wrong.
The timing of the trade in the middle of a game was bizarre and came less than 24 hours after Cammalleri told a couple of Montreal reporters the team has a losing attitude.
"It was definitely a very weird feeling at first," said winger Max Pacioretty. "I've never seen anything like that in my life, but there's a reason for everything. We've got to trust our management and trust them to make the right decisions."
That's the question: Is Gauthier making the right moves?
Many wonder how Gauthier is even being allowed to make these deals. Those watching the antics taking place from other NHL cities don't believe the decision to deal for Bourque is going to save Gauthier's butt by any stretch.
Though owner Geoff Molson has backed Gauthier publicly, you have to think the confidence in the guy making the moves is at an all-time low. Yes, his first trade as Montreal GM to keep Carey Price over Jaroslav Halak was a winner.
But, since then, everything Gauthier has touched has pretty much blown up in his face. He fired assistant Perry Pearn, acquired defenceman Tomas Kaberle and then punted coach Jacques Martin to replace him with the unilingual Randy Cunneyworth.
Gauthier must have spent too much time in the United States because he misread the hiring of Cunneyworth, who doesn't speak french. He might be the right man for the job but the reaction throughout Quebec forced the Habs into an apology.
"It's going in the right direction in terms of the chemistry of the club," said Gauthier. "The whole team's performance is disappointing. Whether it's the veterans or the young kids. It's been a hard season and we're all feeling it."
The Habs' slogan this season is "rise together." A once-proud franchise is falling apart at the seams.