What’s REALLY going on with the Canadiens!?

“Inside source” tells Habstalkradio What’s REALLY going on with the Canadiens…And it’s NOT GOOD!

Looking back to the early days of December I never thought that I would be writing this story, but since then the Habs have lost 5 of their last 6 games, and the road ahead is a lot more difficult. Considering this month the Canadiens have 5 more consecutive road games, ALL behind enemy lines with another back to back situation to face before the end of the holiday season. It would be a difficult task for any team, let alone a team that is suffering from what could only be described as an “IRON-fisted Admiral” with some confused Generals and a divided Army!

As were many of you last night, I was watching the Habs get completely outworked, outplayed and quite simply outclassed by the Dallas Stars. Watching the game as I usually do, with my notepad to my left and my Blackberry on my right, with the odd text message coming in and going out about what is going on with this Bi-Polar enigmatic team that is our Montreal Canadiens these 3 weeks. I received a text from a long time friend/source (let’s call him “Steve”) who, thanks to his job, has direct access to information regarding the Canadiens that anyone in the media would kill for. I would also like to preface this by adding that out of respect for our friendship, I never ask him to about anything that’s going on, and I always ask him before I publish any information he choses to share.

Here is a transcript of our text message exchange:

  • Steve: Obviously watching the game?
  • Me: The whole team looks “OFF” uninspired, I can’t put my finger on it, but even Price for the last while hasn’t been nearly as focused!
  • Steve: Really, how long have you been noticing this with Carey?

I start looking through my notepad and the large bold print from my notes was visible through the page before it;

  • Doesn’t seem focused
  • Movements aren’t fluid
  • Looks tired

I look at the date, it’s Dec 15th the game they lost against the Flyers!

  • Me: Since the flyers game last week, so the last 3 games!
  • Steve: He’s tougher mentally than you think!
  • Me: HUH?

That’s when my phone rang…

According to “STEVE”, what we have been seeing lately, which can only be described as the “unraveling” of the Canadiens starts and ends with Jacques Martin.

The issues stem from Martin’s treatment of certain players and a rift that has been growing between the coach and his players, and even the coach’s staff! The problems actually started to occur back in late November after the Habs had played a terrible game against the flyers. They were ahead by 2 goals and then simply “fell” out of it! Well this is what started the problem, and until that time most of the coaching decisions were actually being made by Perry Pearn and Kirk Muller (Something that MANY of us thought, but never had confirmation until now).

After  the game, Jacques Martin decided that this was going to be “his team” again, something it had not been since the middle of the Washington series last year! From that point, he started with a “bag skate” practice, then he started tweaking things and making adjustments here and there. He was sending the message that he was the coach; not Muller or Pearn, at least that’s the way that Muller Pearn and the players must feel.

After the changes there was the benching of P.K Subban at the beginning of December. This is where the whole ball of yarn started to unravel. This was a decision that was made solely by “The Coach” and his new found power. Jacques Martin believed that Subban needed to be toned down; that the “flair” and charisma that he showed was nothing more than a distraction and that if P.K. did not conform to the “Jacques Martin way of coaching”, then he simply would not play on a Jacques Martin team! There had been a lot of speculation as to the reason for Subban’s benching at the time, some were for it and some were against it, and it made for some terrific discussion around the water cooler. The problem was that it was also causing some heated discussion among the team, and it was the catalyst that started to cause a rift in the locker room.

Where the problem continues to escalate, is that it would appear that Jacques Martin seems to use psychological tactics in an attempt to get what he wants from players. Demoting them on lines during practice, leaving them wondering who they’re going to be playing with that night (or if they will play at all!). You see, another of Jacques Martin’s old tricks is to not leave the players guessing until the afternoon of the game before announcing the lineup to the players. This may not seem like a big deal to us, but for a professional athlete there is not only a lot of pressure to perform, but there’s a mental preparation before a game, a routine that many will follow in order to keep them in a groove. So how are players expected to prepare themselves for a game they might not even be playing?! Obviously, this is not the case for all the players, only the likes of Pouliot, Weber, Pyatt, Kostitsyn and of course his preferential whipping boy P.K Subban. These tactics were the norm during the “Scotty Bowman” era of hockey coaching, but this does NOT work in the “new” NHL!

Like many of you, I watch the Canadiens play every single opportunity I can, and after what I saw on the ice and what I heard last night, this is all starting to make sense to me now.

  • Two assistant coaches, that are scratching their heads wondering what the hell is going on with the coach.
  • An entire team that stands by in bewilderment at this spectacle.
  • A coach who’s trying to get back some of the “power” he feels he obviously lost.
  • The one-sided and unfair treatment of certain players, which causes an atmosphere of uncertainty of what mistakes will land you in the Jaques Martin doghouse.
  • The tension and division that some of the coach’s decisions have cause throughout the team.

After looking through all my notes, I called “Steve” back just to confirm that he was sure that I could go public with this? He said he was, simply because the fans have a right to know what’s going on! The Molson family has already lived through the repercussions of letting a high profile superstar (or potential superstar) be run out of town by an egotistical coach! And it not only cost the franchise, but it took the city 15 years to recover, and I don’t think they will make the same mistake twice!

And you thought that Carey Price was lacking in mental toughness…


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Jason Collard has written 56 post in this blog.

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