BROSSARD – Pierre Gauthier met with the media to assess the Habs’ first half of the season and discuss the second.
Monday morning in Brossard, Canadiens’ general manager, Pierre Gauthier, spoke with the Montreal media to offer a mid-season assessment of the team’s performance. With a lot of work to do in the second half of the season, Gauthier began by addressing his team’s less-than-ideal start to 2011-12.
“The hardest thing for us has been dealing with the lack of wins on the ice. We’re all competitors – the players, the coaches, the managers, everyone. Day in and day out our goal always remains to win games. That’s what motivates us in our hearts. You can be assured that despite the difficulties we’re going through at the moment, that fact never changes,” stated Gauthier of the Canadiens’ performance leading up to Christmas.
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“Everyday we get up and try to think of solutions, each of us in our roles can bring to the table that will help our players. Even when we win, that goal remains the same,” continued the Habs’ general manager. “We’re always striving to improve. With the level of competition currently in the league, you can never lose focus and we’re doing everything we can to become better.”
One of the actions undertaken to bring about that improvement was the promotion of Randy Cunneyworth to head coach of the Canadiens after Jacques Martin was relieved of his duties.
“We asked Mr. Cunneyworth to do a very difficult job. The first games he took over were against some of the best teams in the league like Boston and Chicago. We made the change in hopes of getting better performances out of our team. While we haven’t seen all the changes we were hoping for, over the last week; in our last three games, we’ve started to see changes in the way the team is playing,” said Gauthier on the subject of his new head coach, also adding that a lot of work still remained to be done. “They’re turning in better performances, and we should probably have won at least one more game from this past week. Now we hope that the positive changes in the way the team is playing will start to yield results. We want to start seeing some wins instead of just improvements that still don’t translate into victories.
“Mr. Cunneyworth is a very hard working person, and not a guy who would be set back by short-term, immediate, difficulties. The mood around the team with Mr. Cunneyworth is about hard work. We’re talking about elite athletes – including Mr. Cunneyworth – and these people are very hard workers. I’m feeling comfortable with the position of Mr. Cunneyworth and the team right now,” added Gauthier who also acknowledged the language debate surrounding the English-speaking coach, apologizing to anyone who may have been offended, saying the situation would be re-evaluated at the season’s end.
With the recent signing of defenseman Josh Gorges to a six-year contract, Gauthier also took a moment to discuss other impending negotiations with some of the team’s key players.
“Every case is different, and as things progress over the course of a season we continue to evaluate who we want to speak with and what the terms will be. These are situations without real guidelines and we’ll wait for the right time and place to begin negotiations,” said Gauthier.
“There are restricted free-agents coming up next year, there are unrestricted free agents, that’s normal on every team, every season,” he continued on the subject of two of his star players. “Obviously you’re asking questions about players like Mr. Price and Mr. Subban, who we have every intention in keeping with the franchise for a long time. We’ll address their contracts in due time.”
With the playoff picture still within reach, Gauthier also talked about the Canadiens’ goals over the upcoming months.
“Our fans deserve better and it’s our team who needs to find a solution. The solutions come in three areas. The first: we need reinforcement. That comes with injured players coming back like Mr. Gionta and Mr. Gomez. Second: improvement in performance. Everybody needs to be all-in,” expressed the Habs’ GM. “It’s a team game and we haven’t performed well because we haven’t found that cohesion. Finally, let’s not kid ourselves, we also need to do our share,” he finished in reference to the team’s management.
“Our objective at this time is to improve as a team and win games. We’re just coming off a long road trip and now 11 of our next 15 games will be at the Bell Centre in front of our proud fans. We’re counting on this next stretch of games to change the direction of our season.”