The Montreal Canadiens fired head coach Guy Carbonneau on Monday and appointed general manager Bob Gainey as his immediate replacement. Montreal have struggled since hosting the All-Star game in January, winning just eight of 20 games to slip back into fifth place in the Eastern Conference just one point ahead of Florida, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers.
Carbonneau, who posted a record of 124-83-23 in Montreal, becomes the seventh NHL coach to be fired this season. "The last eight weeks of performance have been below average and I believe a change in the direction at ice level is necessary," Gainey said. "Our team did not seem to be emotionally engaged." It marks the second time in three years Gainey has stepped out of the general manager's office to take over behind the bench.
Midway through the 2005-06 season Gainey sacked Claude Julien and led the Canadiens to the play-offs before handing head coaching duties Carbonneau the next season. The former-Canadiens captain guided Montreal to first place in the Eastern Conference last season and was a finalist in coach of the year balloting, such was his success in the role. The Canadiens got their Centennial campaign off to a promising start but have watched their season unravel behind a string of problems on and off the ice.
Gainey, who became Montreal general manager in 2003, spent his entire 17-year NHL career with the Canadiens, playing in 1,160 games and winning five Stanley Cups. * Reuters