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I, like most Montrealers, have been sitting around lately thinking of what the Habs can do, or more importantly, what Carbonneau can do, to change their play around. So I came up with 10 steps that would greatly improve the team.
This one’s for you Carbo!
10-Step plan to fixing the Canadiens’ problems
Step 1 – Do something about the powerplay
-Start with Hamrlik and Bouillon who both have pretty good shots, and put them on the point. I’d suggest Markov-Bouillon and Hamrlik-Brisebois. This may seem like something small, but before saying we have no one who can play at the point, why not try everyone out?
-Put Markov and Kovalev on the same side (the right side) when they are on the PP. It worked for us last year… even more so than Streit on the point, but you insist upon not putting them together (see Step 2) and in doing so we’re missing a valuable key to our success. Markov and Kovalev have played together for a while and know where the other is going to be and what move the other will make next. Take advantage of that.
Step 2 – Stop with the incessant line changes
-5 minutes with someone isn’t enough to determine whether or not there will be chemistry… you need to spend a lot of time on the ice with them until you start being able to know in advance what their next move will be, but Carbo, you don’t seem to allow this. I think this is one of the most important points I’m trying to make… by giving them a few games to play together, they’ll learn to adapt to each other, and this is the ultimate goal.
Step 3 – Bring on the video replays
-Show them all the horrible things they have done in the past few weeks, followed by great things that they have done in the SAME types of situations in the past. This will help with their confidence, and show them that they actually do have the capacity to do this.
Step 4 – Hold a meeting with Kovalev, Koivu and Komisarek
-You need to ask them for their input about what they think will help motivate the team… Even if you don’t use it, it’ll make them feel like you have confidence in their ideas and make them feel more like the leaders they are.
Step 5 – Practice, Practice, Practice
-Practice all of situations that the team has been having trouble with… it will make them feel more at ease if they are prepared in advance. Faceoffs, the forecheck, clogging up the neutral zone… we all know this list goes on forever these days, but the only way to improve is to put in the hours of hard work and deliberate practice…
Step 6 – Make hockey fun again
-It’s a game remember… They need to think of it that way, and they haven’t since the all-star break. Stop talking about Centennial seasons, media pressure and anything of the sort, and just tell them that the next game, it doesn’t matter if they win or lose but that they’d better have fun. The players will be a little shocked by this but I feel that getting rid of the outside pressure will take a load off of their chests.
Step 7- Set up a motivation speaker
-In Montreal, we have plenty of them, so it shouldn’t be too hard: Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau- people who have won, and can tell them what it takes to win. They need to be told that they are a good team and that if they dig deep enough, they’ll realize they have what it takes.
Step 8 – Give them time off
-Yes, this seems like a complete contradiction to step 5, I’m aware, but all work and no rest will leave them tired come game time… a day off here and there will do them good. Plus it gives them time to spend with their family and friends, which can take their minds off of being afraid of losing.
Step 9 – Encourage group bonding activities
-Yes, everyone made fun of the bowling, but these type of activities let them release tension and allow them to have fun together in a neutral setting, something they aren’t getting out of hockey these days… So they need to keep at it, and just keep spending time together.
Step 10 – Don’t badmouth them to the media
-These are your players – treat them with the respect they give you. You don’t see any player calling you out as a bad coach, so you shouldn’t be calling them out. Give them the praise they deserve and when there is a problem, talk to them one on one. They will respect you more for it and the locker room will be a much more harmonious place to be.
So there you have it Carbo! By implementing these steps, the team will be much better off. For your sanity – and the sanity of many Montrealers, including myself – I hope that you do something soon. The team needs you. Be a coach.