Bob Gainey has a delicious sense of irony, doesn't he?
On the day his former coach Guy Carbonneau was addressing the media for the first and only time about his dismissal, Gainey decided to shuffle his lines again and go with the combinations that Carbonneau himself had come up with.
That meant Tomas Plekanec between Alex Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn, Saku Koivu between Christopher Higgins and Alex Tanguay, and Maxim Lapierre between Guillaume Latendresse and Tom Kostopoulos. Essentially, Carbonneau's dream line-up.
It was a dream because Carbonneau almost never had all these pieces at his disposal, and even now Gainey is deprived of Robert Lang. But each of these three lines had a stretch of success at one point this season, it just never happened to be at the same time.
Let's say the new/old line combinations give the Habs the spark they've needed since before the All-Star break. I wonder how Carbonneau will feel then? If he's still trying to figure out why exactly he got fired 10 days after the fact, the confusion will become even deeper if it's his own line combinations that actually get the team out of its funk.
This means that Kostitsyn will be playing alongside Kovalev again Thursday in Ottawa, something I don't feel allows the youngster much breathing room to make plays. But frankly, he hasn't been making too many plays without Kovalev of late, so why not give it a shot?
Something else I don't particularly agree with is Gainey's decision to go with Carey Price in Ottawa. I guess he's relying on what Price did in regulation Tuesday to allow the Habs to earn a point, but I'm more focused on his frightening performance in the shootout where he looked completely overmatched.
The Senators are playing pretty good hockey right now, and I fear they could pounce on Price early. He needs a solid first period tomorrow night so the Habs have a chance to actually play with a lead for the first time in ages, and I'm not sure he's in the right frame of mind to do that.
But the big event Wednesday was not the Habs practice in Brossard, it was Carbonneau's near hour-long meeting with reporters at the Bell Centre. He had a lot to say while saying a lot of nothing over that time, but one thing he said jumped out at me.
When asked if having 11 impending free agents on the team made his life as coach more difficult, Carbonneau didn't pull any punches.
"I can't hide the fact that it was an extremely difficult situation," Carbonneau said. "We all see how much money certain players get paid and everyone is trying to give themselves an advantage. It's a reality in the NHL right now and certain teams will be affected more than others in certain years. With the salary cap I think we'll see this more and more frequently. Teams are going to have to guard themselves from situations like this and adapt a little better. It was an exceptional situation this year in Montreal that never happened before, and I think the coaches and organizations should learn from what happened here."
The former coach did everything he could not to throw either his former boss or former players under the bus Wednesday, but that response essentially did that to Gainey. That's not saying what Carbonneau said isn't true, because it was a potential problem that was identified from the very first day of training camp, and apparently it was a situation that became bigger than the team.
Gainey, in his role as GM, should have seen this coming and could have avoided it being so overwhelming by signing one or two key players during the season or even last summer. His failure to do so made it so his coach-of-the-year candidate became a fall guy, and it only confirmed my belief that Gainey decided his fate was going to be dictated by no one but himself. He knows his job may be on the line here, and he wants to be the one calling the shots when and if he gets the axe.
Even if that means calling shots the coach he fired already came up with.