I wrote a blog a couple of weeks back on Bob Gainey’s ability to handle Alex Kovalev, something akin to horse whispering. I think Gainey is more than that; he’s actually a hockey whisperer. He’s managing to get the most out of a traumatized team, instill confidence and bring out the passion in the boys. No small feat considering where they were coming from. They hit rock bottom last Saturday night against the Leafs and I thought we were done for. Tuesday against Atlanta they looked like a different team, they’d begun their crawl out of the abyss. I guess coaching was the issue, not that Carbo was a bad coach but his lack of communication skills is what cost him in the end. He was for all intents and purposes still a rookie coach. The 2007-08 season had no bumps in the road, few injuries and generally went as smooth as ice. I had written in a previous blog about comments that Elmer Lach had made at the beginning of the season. He felt the Habs had the talent and capabilities to be serious cup contendors, but cautioned that it would all come down to coaching, specifically the ability of the coach to handle adversity. The pile of crap that was loaded on the Habs this year was endless; we had the most injuries out of any team in the league. The constant line juggling combined with the call ups from Hamilton and suspect goaltending were just keeping us afloat but started to take its toll down the stretch. The losses started to pile up, things really started looking bleak. The Habs were in a freefall and there was no stopping it. Gainey patiently waited in the background to see if Carbo could turn things around, but it was getting worse. Gainey made the tough decision and took over as head coach. At first it didn’t seem to make a difference, we continued to lose games. Gainey decides to have a heart to heart talk with some of the underperformers, something that Carbo wasn’t capable of doing. You wouldn’t think that something that simple could be such a difference maker, but it was. The team is looking much better; Kovy, Koivu, Komo and Price have noticeably stepped up their games. The boys have started playing with passion and emotion, sticking up for each other and their goalie. I guess it’s like anything in life, you can have all the talent in the world but if it isn’t managed or handled properly it’s worthless. It’s amazing what a small pat on the back along with a few words of praise can do; keep on whispering Bob, all the way to the playoffs.
Latest stats on my kitty’s predictions – Habs 2 – Matisse 2.5 …….you go kitty!
A last note:
Last Monday something strange happened, my Habs flag is plastered above the mantle on my fireplace; it fell off the wall. I was sure it was a bad omen especially after the terrible game we played against the Leafs on Saturday night. I promptly put it back up, because I refuse to give up on my team, but I had a hard time shaking off the feeling of dread, it was unsettling. It reminded me of something that had happened in my childhood, one night we were sitting around the dinner table and we heard this loud thud coming from the hallway. Being a Catholic household we had a crucifix hanging on the wall at the end of the hallway, somehow Jesus had fallen off the cross and was lying on the floor. My mother was horrified; she quickly scooped him up and cradled him in her hands. She was convinced this was a sign that something terrible would happen so she had us all kneel down and say the rosary. Later on my poor Dad had the unpleasant task of putting Jesus back on the cross, all the while shaking his head and muttering, “This just doesn’t feel right”.