Sunday, 23 October 2011

Looking back on Guy's firing

This season, the Canadiens have been off to a rocky start.  They have lost six of their last seven games, and some reports have surfaced out of Montreal that coach Jacques Martin's job may be in jeopardy.  Which has led me to ponder and reminisce about the last Habs coach firing; which, of course, was our Carbo.

March 9, 2009 was a day that I -- as a Carbo fan -- will never forget.  I remember exactly where I was when I learned of the firing.  I had just come back from a walk to the post office (where, perhaps ironically, I had received a new Carbo hockey card for my collection).  I sat at my computer and opened my friends page on LiveJournal, where there was a post from my friend Kaitlyn offering condolences to me with a link to the TSN story.  That was how I heard the news.

It was, even before that, a rough time to be a Carbo fan.  I found myself defending him in various hockey communities from disenchanted Habs fans who wanted to see him fired (a task that is no burden to me; I decided when I threw my lot in with this man that I'd have his back no matter what).  It has been said that being a coach in Montreal is the hardest job in hockey, and the Habs had high expectations that year with celebrating their centennial season.  The results were disappointing, the team was 8-11-1 in the twenty games prior to Guy's firing.

Still, that January, he had earned a place behind the bench at the All-Star Game in Montreal, which gave me great pride.

The day before Carbo was fired, the team played Dallas, and won.  I could see the pride in his face at his successful return to the Lone Star State.  Then, on March 9, he was driving home from picking up his dogs after the team flight from Dallas landed when he received a call from Bob Gainey asking to meet.  He would be the coach of the Canadiens no longer.

I admit, I shed some tears.  Even with my personal bias put aside, it seemed to me that the firing was premature.  After all, Guy had a winning record:  230-124-83.  He had been nominated for the Jack Adams Award just the previous year.  To many, perhaps even to Carbonneau himself, the reasons for being let go are still murky.  Perhaps we'll never know.


(photo credit:  Hockey Inside/Out)

Nine days later, on his 49th birthday, Guy sat down at the Bell Centre to bid the Canadiens farewell.  With that same class that won my admiration, and certainly the same class he always exhibited as coach and player -- never saying a bad word about Gainey, the organization, or the media.  Then, later that evening, he went to a quiet birthday dinner with his family.

It is always a sad thing when someone has to lose their job.  But in coaching, it is of course expected.  It is early in the season, and I do hope the Canadiens can turn it around.

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