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Machine of Loving Grace

Hal Gill Talks Montreal

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Would love to see Gill offered a dual player/d-coach role with Bulldogs!

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I sure like that big lumox. I would love to have a beer with him. I love the PK comment. "PK is PK. You don't fix him."

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It would be great to see him with the bulldogs in that role, he might be able to help Tinordi in his path to the NHL.

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Gill and PK have been my two favourite Habs since 2010. Like you guys, I really hope we can get him back in the fold in some capacity eventually.

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As a guy who got to play a lot under Martin, it was interesting to hear him also criticize Martin's communication style, as well as say how the players came together for the 2010 run, which to me suggests they won in spite of Martin, rather then because of him. This was what I have been saying since we went to the final four.

Also interesting to hear that it seemed Cunneyworth seemed to have his hands tied by those above him.

Lastly he is spot on about PK. One can only wonder if PK could have been able to put up the same kind of numbers as Karlson in Ottawa had there been a better coach in Montreal.

Anyway, a couple if good off-season articles by Stubbs. I'd say he hit a home run both times. It's too bad that it appears that there was a lot said that was off the record.

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There are two interesting similarities between the Spacek and Gill interviews:

1. Both gave extensive off the record answers about Gauthier. Presumably that stuff is absolutely damning - that two veterans won't even discuss it on the record really sets off alarm bells to me. This guy was a complete nut.

2. Both specifically pointed to Gomez in the context of saying JM's system didn't 'fit the players.' Gill, however, also says that Nashville's system is basically the same as Martin's, and that JM in effect turned the team over to his veteran leaders: he laid out the system and the rest was up to them. But he did insist that everyone play the system. I can see where that was a mistake - I for one have no problem with a 'flexible' system where different rules apply to different players - but I can also see where insisting on a common approach has its merits.

So I'm not so sure Gill's is a particularly damning assessment. What he really seems to be saying is that Gomez was deeply unhappy and that the rest of the leadership core really struggled to get him to buy in.

It sounds as though Martin took the view that it was the players' team. He put responsibility on their shoulders. This supposed 'lack of communication' (Spacek's accusation, not Gill's) may have had to do with JM's belief that everybody had to play the system and beyond that, it was up to the team leaders. This is consistent, incidentally, with things JM used to say in interviews.

As for PK being overcoached: no doubt. But I think that is chronic in today's NHL, not unique to JM. They say the same thing about Vigneault all the time here in Van. We are unfortunately in an era of massive overcoaching.

All told, then, it's pretty clear that JM was a somewhat distant guy, not particularly warm or accessible with the players, and that he was rigid in insisting that everyone play the system; but also quite progressive in his recognition that buy-in had to come from within the leadership core and could not be forced. Again, these may have been mistakes. I'm still not convinced they translate into bad coaching; they seem to me to represent one valid model of coaching among others (keeping in mind that no model will please everyone). Indeed, if you make exceptions to your system then you invite accusations of favouritism and other resentments. I keep coming back to the fact that when the team played the damned system with conviction, it tended to win. The rest, to my mind, is a sideshow.

The real shame of it all, though, is that, having decided to fire JM, the team missed the opportunity to galvanize Gomez and Cammalleri by bringing in a coach who really would change the system. If you're gonna take a different direction, then for chrissakes take a different direction! Who knows, a fully mobilized and energized Gomer and Cammy might have made quite a difference.

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All told, then, it's pretty clear that JM was a somewhat distant guy, not particularly warm or accessible with the players, and that he was rigid in insisting that everyone play the system; but also quite progressive in his recognition that buy-in had to come from within the leadership core and could not be forced. Again, these may have been mistakes. I'm still not convinced they translate into bad coaching; they seem to me to represent one valid model of coaching among others (keeping in mind that no model will please everyone). Indeed, if you make exceptions to your system then you invite accusations of favouritism and other resentments. I keep coming back to the fact that when the team played the damned system with conviction, it tended to win. The rest, to my mind, is a sideshow.

The issue that PG failed to realize when Muller went off to coach in the AHL, was that JM and Muller had very much a "good cop/bad cop" dynamic with the team. The head coach was the "bad cop" the disciplinarian, play my system or else, gruff and removed from the players. Muller was the good cop, encouraging, in his players ears, and helping them. The guy they went to when they had issues etc...

PG failed to grasp this dynamic and didn't install a new "good cop" when he put Cunneyworth and Ladoucer in as assistants.

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The issue that PG failed to realize when Muller went off to coach in the AHL, was that JM and Muller had very much a "good cop/bad cop" dynamic with the team. The head coach was the "bad cop" the disciplinarian, play my system or else, gruff and removed from the players. Muller was the good cop, encouraging, in his players ears, and helping them. The guy they went to when they had issues etc...

PG failed to grasp this dynamic and didn't install a new "good cop" when he put Cunneyworth and Ladoucer in as assistants.

True, but PG also failed to grasp that Muller was the only person who had the players' ear. He was the ONLY communicator in the entire management team. Foolish decision but, ultimately, one that helped lead to Martin and Gauthier's downfall.

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Loved reading that. I really hope Gill comes back anyway possible.

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