Monday, March 9, 2009


And about time, really. Carbo accomplished much, not the least being finishing first in the East last year after many pundits predicted the Habs might find it difficult to even make the playoffs. But he's made several puzzling decisions over the years. One area is how he treats the two players who have led them in goals scored since the lockout: Alexei Kovalev and Michael Ryder.

The differences in treatment couldn't have been more stark. Kovalev was (and has been) given all sorts of room to work through any sorts of slumps. If he was struggling offensively, Carbo simply gave him more time, as if to allow him as much time as possible to work through it on his own. But the only thing that seemed to work this season was when Gainey told him to not only sit out two games, but to just go home. Now that's a healthy scratch!

But Ryder's treatment was the polar opposite. Ryder was clearly struggling, and the past two seasons proved that he was a streaky scorer. But instead of riding it out and waiting for him to get it back in gear, Carbo benched him time and time again.

And all this while shuffling through various forwards in the effort to get a right handed shot on the power play. He even tried Bryan Smolinski several times -- while Ryder and his sniper shot sat in the press box. And with the way the PP was clicking last year, Ryder would almost certainly have gotten back in a groove sooner than later.

But perhaps the biggest proof for his failure is Ryder's runaway success with the Bruins under his old coach, Claude Julien. He has 23 goals in only 59 games. Even with the games missed due to injury, he seems well on his way to breaking his career record for goals.

Being the coach of the Habs is never easy. So one has to feel for Carbo for putting up with so much over the years, and now being so ignominously dumped. But it all boiled down to the fact that he didn't seem to have what it takes to motivate these players.

A word or two on Gainey's coach-selection strategy: he brought Carbo in as a rookie coach, having him stand with him behind the bench before he assumed the reins completely. Apparently the same is planned with Don Lever. Perhaps Gainey was impressed by the success of John Stevens in Philly and Bruce Boudreau in DC -- both promoted from the head coach position of each franchise's respective farm team.

Only time will tell if Gainey's strategy will work better the second time around.

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