The Canadiens have announced that they will not renew the contract of Pierre Groulx, the goalie coach for the team for the last four years. This is not necessarily surprising, given the difficult end of the season that Carey Price had.
As the saying goes, it's easier to change the coach than to change all the players. In this case, it's easier to hire a new goalie coach than to extricate ourselves from this relationship, massive contract and all. We're married to Carey, so we can't very easily make a change there. More importantly, as I've stated before, there is no one out there who is available and a demonstrably better option than he is. Sure we could go out and trade for a goalie, but how would we know if we're getting Miikka Kiprusoff, or Vesa Toskala?
Look at the Lightning, they thought last summer they'd gotten their goalie of the present and future when they gave two second-round draft picks and a third-rounder for Anders Lindback, only to have to go to the well again mid-season to obtain Ben Bishop, at the cost of Corey Conacher and a further fourth-rounder. Look at the Flyers, who were disappointed in 24-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky, and dealt him away to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a package of picks, so they could rely on Ilya Bryzgalov as their stalwart in nets for the next decade. They then watched their former goalie have a career year, and had to scramble mid-season also, going after retread Steve Mason and hoping he can put his career back together. To obtain him, they flipped goaltender Michael Leighton and a third-round draft pick. Getting on this goalie carousel is not an approach the Canadiens should take lightly.
I'm also sensitive to the argument that the time to trade Carey is now, we'll never get better value for him, if we wait he might lose any luster he still has and we'll be stuck with him. This line of reasoning is probably informed by watching Mike Gillis hold on to Roberto Luongo for too long and be left holding the bag. I understand the 'strike the iron while it's hot' faction, but am more naturally cautious, so I'm going to stick with Carey. Let's dance with the one we brunged. We'll see in a few years who was right.
In making the coaching change however, we can see the decisive approach of the Montréal management team. As Michel Therrien famously said last season: "On a pas l'temps de niaiser." They probably saw something in the relationship between Carey and Mr. Groulx, or in the latter's methods or philosophy, that they felt needed to change. This is despite the fact that Peter Budaj seems to have responded well to that environment, going from shaky to steady in his backup role in the space of a season and a half.
While this may seem like a minor change, we saw how the Leafs goalie tandem benefited from a change this season. Their stats went up markedly in one season. Whether that's just natural progression or because Rick St. Croix's methods are a better fit than former coach François Allaire is impossible to prove, but it does provide grist for the mill.
Now, about Mr. Allaire, what's he up to?...