Stu Cowan: The thrust reaches its limit as the Canadiens descend into the abyss

Transparency seems to be a forgotten word for Geoff Molson, who has a team with a lame GM, no captain and apparently no plan.

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When will it be enough?

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How many more asymmetrical losses, how long will it take before Canadiens owner / president Geoff Molson, without being able to win even two games in a row, comes forward with some sort of plan to solve the team’s many problems?

GM Marc Bergevin spoke with select members of the media last weekend in individual interviews, but what he says carries little weight at this point as it seems very unlikely he will be back after this season.

So what’s the plan to fix this mess and when will Molson decide that team fans and, more importantly, subscribers deserve some sort of explanation as to what the hell is going on.

Transparency seems to be a forgotten word for Molson, who has a team with a lame GM, no captains, and apparently no plans to fix things.

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After Wednesday’s 6-3 defeat to the Capitals in Washington, the Canadiens are in 30th place in the NHL overall standings with a record of 5-14-2, two points clear of the Arizona Coyotes (4-14-2) and three points ahead of the last place of the Ottawa Senators (4-12-1). The Coyotes have one game in their hand and the Senators have four in their hand. The Seattle Kraken expansion (6-12-1) has a point ahead of the Canadiens and has two games in hand.

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The Canadiens are on track to finish the season with 47 points, less than half of what it will likely take to reach the playoffs. They have been beaten 70-24 in their 16 losses, conceding five goals or more nine times, and have scored more than two goals just six times.

This team is a total disaster and something has to happen.

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The first thing is that Molson must sign Bergevin for a contract extension or announce that his GM will not be back and that he is looking for a new one. In a perfect world, that new GM would be in effect before the NHL’s March 21 trade deadline. Bergevin shouldn’t be allowed to make any moves if he doesn’t come back. Let the new guy be in control of how to fix this mess.

“There is no clear plan,” said Craig Button, TSN’s director of scouting, of the Canadiens after Wednesday’s game. “The players are looking for a plan. They want to know what’s going on. They are watching a GM who is in the final year of his contract. Anyone can talk about the draft, they will lose and you will have a high pick in the draft. There are many days between now and the draft, and there are many decisions and opportunities that will come for the Montreal Canadiens during this time frame. And for Marc Bergevin who is in the last year of his contract, I changed my mind about this. I thought: oh, it’s the last year of your contract, just play, it’s no different than a player. Oh yes it is. He is completely different from a player because the GM has to make those decisions and the team is looking for that leadership.

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“So, for me, it’s clear that Geoff Molson will have to make a decision,” added Button, who has been GM of the Calgary Flames since 2000-03. “Either Marc Bergevin is our man or he isn’t. Either he is our manager, he will lead our team and he will lead our team, or not. And the longer (Molson) doesn’t make that decision, one way or another, he leaves his team in danger and the ship may continue to sink even further.

There is no quick fix for the Canadiens, but if Molson wants to do something right away he could think of replacing Dominique Ducharme as head coach. The Canadiens looked totally confused on the ice – especially in their own demise – with Ducharme’s system and has a record of 20-30-9 in the regular season since taking over from Claude Julien last season. Molson is likely reluctant to make a change of manager as he is still paying Julien $ 5 million for not coaching this season and signed Ducharme on a $ 5.1 million three-year contract during the off-season.

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Molson could be monolingual assistant Luke Richardson interim head coach until the end of the season, but that would likely create a language controversy the owner wants to avoid. Richardson was head coach when the Canadiens won three of their last four games against the Vegas Golden Knights to win the Stanley Cup semifinal series last season after Ducharme tested positive for COVID-19.

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“All boys love him, “Richardson defender Ben Chiarot said during training camp.” I said that before … the boys would go through a Wall for him, especially the Ds he works with every day. He is a guy with character that we all do love.

This season has already essentially become a cancellation for the Canadiens and the goal should be to fix the future of the franchise.

Someone has to be in charge of doing it – the sooner the better.

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