MONTREAL, QC. — We were left shaking our heads. Ninety minutes prior to puck drop, news filtered out that Canadiens assistant coach Perry Pearn had be relieved of his duties. Given the state of chaos that was the Habs organization, the move was baffling — brushing away the grain of dust in one eye but leaving the plank firmly planted in the other.
But we are all the great unwashed, and incapable of understanding such complexities.
The move was made just before the Canadiens faced their toughest test so far — the Flyers are expected to be among the conference powerhouses this season. They came into the game with the NHL’s best power-play while the Canadiens sported one of the worst peanlty-killing records. Add to that the Habs six-game losing streak and a start to the season that hasn’t been seen in these parts in 70 years.
It seemed like a recipe for disaster.
“To me, the greater the odds, the greater the shall-ange. And as always, I accept the shall-ange.” — Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Fortunately, the Canadiens have their own super sleuth on the job. General manager Pierre Gauthier sprung into action to accept the difficult task of investigating the problems and putting the team back on track.
“Anytime you face a new challenge, you need to look in the mirror, and that is just what I’ve been doing, starting with myself.” — Pierre Gauthier
Okay, that’s a good start. I suppose. But when not admiring his reflection Gauthier began an evaluation of the team and its personnel and came to the conclusion “We don’t like the results right now.” I think we all can agree on that.
So after some deliberation dismissing Pearn was chosen as a means to right the ship. Pearn changed the defense and was in charge of the power-play this season. The power-play has been dreadful and some of the defensive choices have been questionable, particularly the deployment of Hal Gill and Raphael Diaz.
So perhaps the move makes some sense. But was Pearn really that incompetent?
“[The firing] is in no way a reflection of who [Pearn] is as a person or what he has been doing and his competency and his professionalism.” — Pierre Gauthier
Okay, now I’m really confused. So how is this move supposed to fix everything? How will the players interpret the dismissal?
“Like I told the players earlier, this is not a reflection on Mr. Pearn’s job. It’s not the action that’s going to change anything. But over time we’re going to function more efficiently, we’re going to fuction better, we’re going to function out of the box a little bit more than we have and this is one thing that’s part of that change.” — Pierre Gauthier
The translator is still trying to explain this one to Alexei Emelin. Perhaps I need his services too.
It was at this point that I was reminded of Inspector Clouseau. Through the genius of Peter Sellers, he would deliver one of his explanations with mind-numbing logic, followed by “I gather the facts, and examine the clues, and before you know it, the case is sol-ved.”
Nothing to it! Clouseau would always solve the crime, usually achieving success by accident — falling ass-backwards into the desired result.
“It’s all part of life’s rich pageant, you know.” — Inspector Jacques Clouseau
Gauthier got his desired result. The ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking temporarily calmed the masses. And the players made him look good notching an impressive 5-1 win over the Flyers.
The question is: Will Canadiens fans, playing the role of Chief Inspector Dreyfus, be driven mad by puzzling moves that seemingly turn to gold?
Are there other moves to come? Will our inspector do the right thing and fire his friend or will other scapegoats be sacrificed first? The real worry is that amidst the bumbling towards a solution a major trade of a young asset will be made.
I remember the movies — that’s akin to destroying a Steinway along the way.
One wonders how long Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is prepared to let this script unfold. The bleeding has been stopped temporarily with tonight’s win. But it’s also provided a glimpse into the fact that his Canadiens aren’t so bad after all, and may have a better chance achieving their potential under the guidance of a new management team.
And what of Gauthier? Are his words just GM-speak concealing a deeper plan? Is he a misunderstood genius, or is he our own lovable Clouseau?
“We shall see who is the one that will be saying nonsensical things that are sensing of nonsense.” — Inspector Jacques Clouseau