Hab Nots: What Hartley to Calgary Means for Canadiens

Written by Brian McCormack on .


The last week has been dominated by a Stanley Cup media day, the retirement announcement of arguably the greatest defensemen in the history of the game, and the possibility that Stanley Cup-winning coach Bob Hartley would be returning to the NHL to take the helm of the Montreal Canadiens.

Well Game 1 of the Cup Finals happened. And Nicklas Lidstrom did retire.

But Bob Hartley will be calling the shots next year in Calgary.


The Calgary Flames inked Hartley after the coach spent last season coaching the ZSC Lions to a championship in Switzerland.  Hartley had an out-clause in his contract with the Lions, an out-clause that TSN's Darren Dreger claimed the Lions extended to June 1st solely for the Flames.

So without his supposed top choice to lead Les Habitants, new GM Marc Bergevin must move on to plan B. But who truly makes up that list?

The leading names remaining for the Canadiens' head coaching position seem to be Marc Crawford and Michel Therrien. Crawford last coached in the NHL with the Dallas Stars in 2011. Though a top tier coach in the mid-90s, Crawford's success has been scarce since. Crawford hasn't made the playoffs in his last five seasons behind an NHL bench, and he's won only a single playoff series since 1998.

Therrien has had more current success, leading the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Finals in 2008, before handing over the reig.ns to Dan Bylsma the next year before the Pens won a Stanley Cup. A nod for Therrien would be his second go-around with the Habs, who fired him after 46 games in 2003.

Guy Carbonneau also stands another look behind the Montreal bench. Carbonneau had experienced success coaching the Canadiens, who won the Eastern Conference under his leadership in 2008, before Bob Gainey surprisingly showed Carbonneau the door the next year. These days it's pretty clear the Canadiens are hardly willing to be tied to the decisions of Gainey (Only 104 days since Scott Gomez last scored).

Montreal already excludes itself from several candidates looking for work, solely on the fact that they are not willing to hire a non-bilingual coach. With Hartley out of the mix, and following a dreadfully lack luster season, the Canadiens can't really afford any bars on their hiring such as this.

Players' coaches like Tom Renney and Mike Sullivan, whose work with the Rangers has placed him on several lists, may not be options if they do not master the French language. And seeing 15 teams alter their coaching situations in the last calendar year, one could say the picking is slim enough at this point already, couldn't they?

Personally, I would think Carbonneau would be this team's best option. Crawford has not been a long-term answer behind the bench in over a decade, while Therrien proved unable to handle his first stint in Montreal, and then was unable to exert staying power over the NHL's most talented roster. Carbonneau's success for however brief a period, is still the Canadiens' brightest regular season in the last 20 years. Further, after a dreadful season, a reminder of the most recent glory days of Montreal, and for accountability to the organization, may be just what the younger Canadiens need.

It's not an overly impressive list of candidates for a team that greatly underachieved in 2012, but in all honesty, they've limited the options themselves. And Hartley to Calgary may force the Canadiens to try old solutions for a second time.

Thomas Gillen
Thomas Gillen

Patrick Roy. Purely for the entertainment factor

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