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Dear Mr. Molson


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Dear Mr. Molson:

I have been a Habs fan for a long time. Decades. I've watched the team win a few Cups, but it's been 23 years and counting since the last one and that streak doesn't look like it's going to end any time soon. As fans, we've sat through some lean years here and there and with 30 teams in the league, it's unreasonable to expect that we'll win a Cup three times every decade from hereon out. But at the end of the day, we as fans want to know that we have a competitive team and that the organization is doing everything it can to maintain that competitiveness. Unfortunately, the current management regime is one that was selected without that goal in mind, and there has been a complete lack of accountability from you yourself all the way down to the players. I can sit through losing seasons if there is hope that we're building towards something. But I cannot sit through losing when the team is neither developing its young players to make itself better nor even able to identify areas of weakness and correct them. It is one thing to lack success and another entirely to lack the motivation and will to succeed.

At your press conference today, both you and Marc Bergevin stated that you wanted to show stability within the organization and not let one bad season direct a change in course. But this can only be true if the course you are on is the right one to begin with. Under Michel Therrien, this team has had three consecutive years where they have been largely outplayed by the opposition. In the last two, we saw outstanding goaltending mask the effects of poor coaching and a flawed system. This year, the lack of outstanding goaltending simply made evident what has been a problem for three years, not just one. if you wish to infer stability as a reason not to change your coach or GM, then you also have to admit that the stability within the organization is one that will keep our team at the level of mediocrity and nothing more.

Yes, Carey Price can come back and he is a player whose talents could potentially turn any team in the league from also-ran to playoff team and perhaps even Cup contender. But there are 29 other teams in the league who don't have a goalie as good as Carey Price, and there are 29 teams who will find another way to battle for a playoff spot and Cup despite not having him. It is not acceptable to allow yourself to fail in other areas just because you are exceeding expectations in net. It is not acceptable for a professional sports franchise to ignore the shortcomings it has. Yes, Carey can turn a bad team into a good one, but why not give yourself the opportunity to turn a good team into a great one by making other areas of your team better too?

When one looks at the roster of talent assembled by Bob Gainey and Pierre Gauthier, the Montreal Canadiens are fortunate to have arguably the best goaltender in the league. We have a Norris-winning defenceman who is among the top 5 at his position in the NHL and probably the best defenceman to come through this organization since Chris Chelios or possibly even Larry Robinson. We have an elite scoring forward in Max Pacioretty. We have a player who could be an elite first-line center in Alex Galchenyuk, if he were only given a regular chance by his coaches. And we have several other players like Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Jeff Petry, and Lars Eller, who could easily be key cogs in a Cup-winning team. Yet all this is wasted when you have a coach who does not understand the modern game, who can't adjust within games and within a season, and whose personnel deployment is among the weakest in the league. Opposing players such as future hall-of-famer Jaromir Jagr have pointed out to the media just how poorly Michel Therrien did at adjusting his game plans this year. Other teams have called us predictable and soft. Former players of ours have criticized the coach for not using them properly and for not providing a clear understanding of what was expected of them.

At the level of the GM, Marc Bergevin has not been a complete failure. He has made some shrewd moves and has at times shown an understanding of what is needed to win. But all this is inconsequential if he continues to put his faith in a coaching staff that cannot utilize the assets accordingly. Today, Marc Bergevin has essentially said that he does not see a problem with relying solely on one player to win games. He has no Plan B, and he sees no reason to have one. He finds it perfectly acceptable to lose if Carey is injured, and should it happen again (or should another key player like Subban or Pacioretty or Galchenyuk go down), Bergevin seems content to use the "oh well we tried" attitude and write season after season off. Injuries happen in hockey. Every team will be affected by them, but the good ones will find a way to rise above them, as the Rangers did without Lundqvist or the Pens without Crosby and Malkin for long stretches, or the Preds without Rinne, or the Bruins without Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron during their concussions. Good teams don't accept injury as an excuse. Teams that aspire to be good don't accept injuries as an excuse. They may be a reason for lessening success, but it does not give anyone - not you, not Marc Bergevin, not Michel Therrien - a reason to stop striving for success.

Marc Bergevin stated that he tried hard to make trades but couldn't. He has stated that he can't see himself making a big splash in free agency because of the term and money required to do it. He has stated it is hard to build through the draft when you don't have top 10 picks. Well Marc is now set to have his second top 10 pick in 4 years. And while he seems fond of those excuses, it seems bizarre to believe the Canadiens are the only team that can't come up with a trade, signing, or draft pick to make them better. How did LA acquire Jeff Carter or Pittsburgh Phil Kessel or Dallas Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza? How did Florida find success with Jaromir Jagr and Gerard Gallant when our team declined both gentlemen? How did the Blackhawks and Blues and Caps find a way to win when always drafting late? How did the Red Wings make the playoffs when their entire core has been turned over in the past couple of years, despite losing their coach, despite losing their assistant GM, and despite having to find diamonds in the rough at the draft? Even the Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to find a 20-goal scorer amongst our castoffs and parlay their assets into top picks. Why is Marc Bergevin the only GM who seems to be afflicted by failing to take risk and failing to try to make this team better? Is Marc Bergevin so afraid of making a mistake and so afraid of trusting his judgment that he won't make any moves at all and in the process, is handicapping our team for years to come?

Mr. Molson, I will always be a fan of the Montreal Canadiens ahead of all other sports franchises. But I cannot sit here and watch an acceptance and a complacency with respect to abysmally horrid coaching and with respect to apathy at the GM position. If Michel Therrien can't make the players better, he should be fired. If Marc Bergevin can't do his job of finding ways to improve the roster because the job is too hard for him, then he too should be relieved of his duties. The same can be said of JJ Daigneault and Dan Lacroix and Sylvain Lefebvre. All of these men have failed at what they do and yet remain in their jobs. Is it because they are friends before co-workers? Is it because the self-imposed language restrictions make it too hard to find gainful employees? The Canadiens organization now sits in a place where it is willing to accept mediocrity and hold no one accountable for it. Let it be known, Mr. Molson, that at least some of the fans of the team, will hold current management, yourself included, accountable. Whether it is by a lack of financial investment in the team or a lessening of interest in the team, I hope fans speak through these actions to show that we will not accept the culture of French-first ahead of winning and the culture of accepting lower standards of performance out of our coach and GM simply because we have a higher standard of performance from the likes of Price, Subban, and Galchenyuk. As a fan, I will be willing to come around and support this team again when there is evidence the organization begins to show respect for fans and stops treating us like we know nothing about the sport.



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Guest habs1952

Just 2 comments on your post BT:

A bad team with Carey in net is still a bad team.

Totally agree with the free agency/trades part. There always comes a time when you need to take a gamble and spend the cash for term if you want to contend.

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Contrary to my expectation, not even missing the playoffs and finishing near bottom were sufficient to get Molson to act :angry: ! That's how low performance standards have slipped! Then why were Bob Gainey and Randy Cunningworth fired for the same reason? Because they were Anglos? Something is very wrong somewhere.

The biggest tragedy of all is Geoff Molson can't be fired! The Molson family also won't sell its majority stake in the franchise!

That's it! No Stanley Cups under this regime. Best hope is another ECF in the next 5 years.

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I was playing with the idea of a letter just like this, but as usual, you said it best, BigTed.

I'm afraid it's falling on deaf ears.

No, wait, it's more like falling on ears of people with an elitist mentality who don't care one bit what a "few" knowledgeable fans say, what the stats say, what history says, or what the players say. They're sticking to their stories (and their lies), and practically daring the fans to do something about it.

I think they have already forgotten how serious the fans are in Montreal.

I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of French-speaking fans who are just as sick and tired of this dog-and-pony show as there are English-speaking fans. I'm also willing to bet that many of them are creative enough to think of non-violent ways to use the many social networks out there to make a difference and cause changes.

Much of it will ultimately come down to holding back their money. Although, fans have often spoken with their "boos" as well.

I'm getting the impression that there is something much bigger going on than most want to acknowledge. It's even beyond the nonsensical "foxhole" friendship, or the ludicrous language priority policy. There is no logical reason why management would accept such mediocrity and declare that it is in the best interests of the franchise for it to continue. Therefore, we must look for illogical reasons. Things behind the scenes. After all, it's still a league run by a commissioner who was already implicated in participating in (and likely organizing) corruption involving having referees of another major sports league intentionally affect the outcome of games by making predetermined decisions which favored one team. And despite the difficulty several franchises are having just filling seats, this commissioner still seeks expansion, at the expense of the few consistently successful franchises. Insanity breeds more insanity, apparently.

Or, perhaps the curse brought upon this team when Patrick Roy was publicly humiliated just to cater to a C-grade coach and then traded away so that he could win more Cups with another team is exactly that: a curse. A very real set of invisible conditions which very visibly alter the course of the team's destiny.

Whatever the reason is, it appears it has this franchise by the throat, with no sign of letting go.

Over the years, I have certainly come to respect the fans who post such intelligent, memorable, and humorous things on this forum. I have the feeling it is easier for me, thousands of miles away, to simply find other things to do with my time, than for those who live very close, attend games, moderate the forum, and spend much of their time and energy following the team they have loved for so long. I feel for you, I really do. Had I been born in Montreal, I'm sure my life would have turned out differently. But I can't justify all the frustration and other negative energy spent in futility as this organization continues to insult its own paying fans as it carelessly wastes the best years of its very talented core players -- years that can never be recovered -- by supporting, and even defending, a losing mentality of incompetence and elitism.

Sorry this post isn't in French, Mr. Molson, but you probably wouldn't read it anyway.

- vegasrick

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Well said Ted ... unfortunately it will not even be read, much less acted upon. Until the fans begin withdrawing support in terms of buying tickets and merchandise, there will be no change. This team is going nowhere.......You know it is bad when you begin pining for the days of George Gillette.

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Hey Big Ted,

I to have followed the Habs dating back to the early 70's. And i am upset not only in the teams' mediocre performance but at the fact that NO ONE stood up in the room and said .... " guys we just stank"

They talk about leadership and character..... i don't believe that there is any in that room. Except for Gallagher. This is what Guy was referring to when he said that the Canadiens are made up of 4 4th lines.

I am sick and tired of hearing that we "must " have a french coach. How about we get the BEST damm coach and if he needs an interpreter put one beside him at the pressers. Do the french writers that cover the habs not read and understand english..... if not ..... how can they do their jobs properly and cover the rest of the NHL which operates in English. If the organization doesn't wake up soon and go after the best talent available "world wide" and no matter what language the individuals speak ..... i am sorry to say that Montreal will never win another Cup. They may contend every so often as we have over the past 20 odd years ...... but we will never win !!!!

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I guess this is what happens when you have management that is more concerned with keeping their jobs than winning, and ownership that is more concerned with selling beer than......well, anything else.

Life beyond hockey.....here we come!

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