Carbo at 50: Looking ahead, still no answers

Former Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, photographed last Saturday in the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast booth at the Bell Centre.
Dave Sidaway, Gazette

Gazette feature: On his 50th birthday, Carbonneau looks ahead and back

Texte en français: At CKAC Sports

Guy Carbonneau turns 50 on Thursday, happy with the many good things in his life.

And this birthday promises to be less eventful than No. 49.

A year ago to the day, Carbonneau sat before a news conference at the Bell Centre, nine days after he’d been fired as the Canadiens’ 28th head coach, a job he’d viewed as his destiny.

He answered questions for nearly an hour, addressing his dismissal by then GM Bob Gainey that had taken him and many others by surprise.

Today, Carbonneau is impressed by what he sees of his former team, for whom he played for a dozen years, served as captain and coached 230 games with a regular-season record of 124-83-23. He is busier than ever as a husband, father and grandfather of three who is moving painlessly on two new surgically replaced hips, serving as a Hockey Night in Canada analyst, starring in a TVA hockey reality show and soon heading to Belarus as head coach of Canada’s under-18 world championship team.

Good things in the present and the future. But Carbonneau still hasn’t gotten closure over his firing. He says his relationship has changed with Gainey, his former teammate and mentor in Dallas and Montreal who handpicked him to coach the Habs.

At the very least, the timing of the firing was puzzling: when Gainey pulled Carbonneau’s plug, alone or with pressure from above, the Canadiens were in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, having turned the corner from a horrible 1-11-3 skid in January/February, and Carbonneau, a finalist as NHL coach of the year the previous June, was only five months into a new three-year contract.

I sat Saturday at the Bell Centre with Carbonneau, who spoke at length about all of the above. There is no bitterness in him; he’s moved on and is loving his life. But he won’t lie to you – he was angry to be fired, and he still wouldn’t mind knowing the whole background behind his dismissal.


  1. Harani says:

    Renaud Lavoie just posted this video on RDS as a response to those who think the Benoit Brunet favors the Habs in his commentary. The man in the video is HILARIOUS! I spit my coffee. Worth the click!

    “I gotta a feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night!”

  2. ooder says:

    all i am saying is that lets not portray carbo as some god send coach from above.

    ya he did well with a team, that had 0 injuries all year and a line that happened to catch fire.

    defensively we still stunk, and gave up 40+ shots a game.

    he did some things well, but common guys. when the going got tough, well the habs didn’t get going


    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  3. andrewberkshire says:

    I find it funny that the same guys who are lauding Latendresse are the guys who were saying he was trash 20 games into the season, and would be a career AHLer. McGuire especially. Watching Pouliot play every game, we win that trade on skating ability and defensive responsibility alone. Think you’ll ever see Latendresse killing a penalty? No way.

  4. Mattyleg says:

    At 3:14.

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  5. TheIndian says:

    or it could be other way around

  6. SeriousFan09 says:

    It’s TSN, to hell with them. Gui will come back down after he secures his new contract and will do the Ryder thing likely, or just fall apart the next time Havlat is injured, whichever comes first. Pouliot has speed, hands and size, he’s got better ability than Gui in every category. Pouliot’s stats are excellent considering his limited time in the NHL as well. He misses scoring chances in a couple of games and suddenly everyone questions him? It’s not like he can score each and every game.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  7. Bugs says:

    Carbo was also the first to put Metro on the PP…

    What does “losing the discipline” mean? You mean he shoulda been a better nanny and follow the Ks around at night? Or do you mean he lost the room? As in, where those players are playing now, their new coach is getting the BEST outta them? Please.

    He did his best; it didn’t work out. I don’t remember all this double-talk when he guided the team to 1st smurfin place and was a Jack Adams candidate. Or…did he not have anything to do with that?

    I agreed with Carbo and Muller: if THEY had been on the ice, Philly wouldn’t’ve intimidated anybody. And that’s ALL that series was about, as they were neatly trashed by Pitt subsequently.

    Carbo couldn’t “grow a pair” for’em all, could he? And he left with a WINNING record.

    Carbo did just fine, thank you very much. And I hope his U-18 team kicks all sorts of hell outta the opposition in Belarus. Line juggling and adaptation problems he may have and all.

    Dubiously unequivocal, know me as

    L.B. Potter, esq. First Bugler of the St-Habberson’s Club Red Brigade and Head Coachman to the President of Habsbros Flannel-weaving Services:

  8. habsguy says:

    Crawford ordered Bert to go break his neck?????……Really,  he said sucker punch him from behind and break his neck..LOLOLOL…..or did he maybe say lets pay Moore a little extra attention….now thats funny!!!

  9. king ddd says:

    on tsn quiz show today they asked which of the the players would you take for the rest of your career. a) gui b) mueller c) benny  all of them voted for gui. and i hate to say it but i may have to agree, but i hope benny can prove me and tsn wrong,, good for gui but imagine how it would be if gui becomes a leclaire and benny ends up a one hit wonder



    .::moen & georges for co-captains::.

  10. HabFanSince72 says:

    Carbo also rarely stood up for his players. He always had a scapegoat handy when things didn’t go well. Sometimes his scapegoating hurt the team (e.g. benching Kovalev during a powerplay in the last two min of a game).

    I remember when we lost, Carbo’s press confrences always referred to the fact that “they” (the Habs) played poorly. When Gainey took over it was always “we”.

    (OK they still played poorly with Gainey but you get my drift…)


  11. Chris says:

    Which site is that?

  12. deuce6 says:

    Pouliot’s game has slipped, as of late..I am worried he is starting to go into the “relaxed” mindset he had in Minny..

    He hasn’t been hitting and causing turnovers in the offensive zone..He hasn’t been camping in front of the net, but preferring to stay high in the slot, (Not willing to get his nose dirty)..

    He looks as though he lost an edge he had earlier..I hope he snaps out of it or this trade would work entirely in Minny’s favor..

  13. SeriousFan09 says:

    He also got the Canadiens a Division and Conference Title for the first time in how long? Carbo did a lot of good with the team but as time went on, it became evident he had hit the NHL coaching scene a bit early. He has a lot of hockey smarts to employ, but he should have started smaller than coaching in the NHL I think.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  14. Chris says:

    I’m willing to take the long-term view on this one.  A lot of people thought very highly of Pouliot coming out of the OHL, high enough that he was drafted 5th overall.  But he never really tore up that league.

    Latendresse did score at a pretty good clip in junior and as a forward that relies on size and strength (as opposed to speed and dekes), he will only start coming into his own around now, based on historical precedents.

    For example, consider the following power forwards in the 1980’s and 1990’s (taking into consideration that that was a much higher scoring era, as well):

    • Cam Neely had 51 goals and 104 points in 201 games over his first three seasons, resulting in the Canucks giving up on him and sending him to Boston.  We of course know how that turned out.
    • John Leclair had 46 goals and 106 points through 205 games in his first three seasons, resulting in the Habs throwing him into the Desjardins for Recchi trade.  We know how that turned out.
    • Tim Kerr had 54 goals and 115 points over his first 153 games in his first three injury plagued seasons.

    Of course, in all these cases the players involved ended up in very good situations.  Neely found a great team and fit for his style, with players like Janney and Bourque to feed off of.  Leclair found the Legion of Doom and first-line minutes, while Kerr found his health.  But sometimes you just have to be patient with young players, and sometimes they need a change of scenery or team to find the appropriate team to fit their style of play and realize their potential.

    I don’t know if Latendresse and Pouliot will be worthy successors of the players mentioned or if their careers will instead follow the arc of a guy like Taylor Pyatt, who teased with his potential but never quite lived up to the early hype. 

    I am, however, quite confident that nobody else really knows one way or the other how either player is going to pan out over the long term.  And since I’m a Habs fan, I will definitely pull for Pouliot to realize his potential.  As a guy who always liked Latendresse, I also hope he finds career success.  I have no problem with a situation where everybody wins.  :)

  15. petefleet says:

    When does reading between the lines become crative writing?

    Go Habs Go

  16. habsguy says:

    If Gainey doesn’t,  it will be by his choice!!!!!

  17. petefleet says:

    Yeah, and what kind of an insane organization would hire a guy like Carbo to coach Team Canada U-18?

    Go Habs Go

  18. ooder says:

    yes he will, i mean who doens’t put josh gorges as a left wing.

    or kostopoulos on the first line.

    or you know, what kind of insane coach would keep a line together for more then 2 games in a row.

    carbo completly lost the discipline of the team and had no idea how to get it back.

    also he wasn’t very good at adapting to differnet coaching strategies.

    **see philly series of two years ago


    “I like what I’m seeing right now,” assessed Markov. “We’re not perfect, but we’re trying to be.”

  19. habs fan from stonyplain says:

    but let us remember that mcguire is a bald headed idiot from jerssey, he figures that ovie hit should have only been a minor penalty. Yes lats scores goals but polliout scores, hits, fights, kills penalities, and he can skate something lats can’t do. We are a faster team since the trade.

  20. petefleet says:

    Things have turned out well, season is not over yet.  I hope Martin sticks with Halak to give them their best chance to continue to win.

    Go Habs Go

  21. Mattyleg says:

    Yeah, you’re right, Gainey’s team is doing terrible now.

    All the changes that the “current” GM has made have really helped us.

    Gimme a break…

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  22. CanadienBoy says:

    Ramage ?

  23. CanadienBoy says:

    Carbo did what he believe and stood by it just got to respect that , as well he did say Price be better off in the ahl.

  24. andrewberkshire says:

    Well Bertuzzi played for team Canada as well. I still think Bertuzzi is a scumbag for that incident because no matter what intention or lack of intention there was, Moore had already fought, and Bertuzzi punched him in the back of the head then fell on him with weight on his neck. 

    As for Heatley, all the reports I’ve heard were that his blood alcohol level was tested and indicated both he and Snyder had one drink each, not enough to encourage most people to not drive. Irresponsible of course, but he isn’t the first hockey player to get away with it. Craig MacTavish ran a girl over while trashed, and you never hear about that.

  25. pmaraw says:

    crawford also overlooker Gretzky in the infamous shootout at the olympics

  26. andrewberkshire says:

    That’s pretty much his trademark. He’s at home in Toronto, they want him on TV as much as he wants to be on TV.

  27. showey47 says:

    you what really bothers me,even though i’m going to show a bias for big bert for obvious reasons. He receives alot of heat and hate through message boards and the media for something that was an accident. There was no intention to cause that kind of harm to steve moore. But then you get Dany Heatley,the summer before the bert incident has a few drinks,gets behind the wheel of his car,speeds through a residential neighbourhood,gets into an accident and kills somebody and virtually nothing happens,no huge media hate,no fan rage,nothing. The guy committed manslaughter and yet there he is playing for team freakin’ canada. I dunno,i just don’t get it.

  28. CanadienBoy says:

    Agree on that, but what’s  about Calgary same thing Sutter lost the room ?

  29. pmaraw says:

    the team that gainey left us is looking pretty good eh?

  30. habs001 says:

    true after thurs but they play sat afternoon

  31. habs001 says:

    some stats so far 


      latendress  age 22  nhl games 276 goals 71 assists 41  minus 15

      pouliot       age  23 nhl games 93   goals 23  assists 16  plus 7  


     pouliot has shown better d and his production matches latts but he has much less game experience..if he stays healthy i believe he will have better stats than latts five years from now

  32. Harani says:

    Actually Ottawa has a game in hand on us. So if they play thursday, they’ll be tied with us!

    “I gotta a feeling…that tonight’s gonna be a good night!”

  33. SeriousFan09 says:

    Problem is Burke is much better at manipulating the media with his tactics than he is at actually building NHL Teams. He comes in, makes a few big gambles to swing a winning team together and then leaves the team with nothing when he leaves regardless of success. Still comes off like a genius GM, despite the fact that he never truly built a team, he’s just very good at playing the media game. It’s all about spin.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  34. CanadienBoy says:

    Yes Toronto /Mcguire or Boston ?

  35. Habhopeful says:

    I dont know how much closer to the net you can get in the majority of goals shown there…Just saying…Credit where credit is due…I never implied you said he “hasnt been good”…Im just saying…Take the hate goggles off…I dont like him anymore than you do…Its stupid that we never got to see this side of him…and hes to blame…but he is playing great…


    “I went to see a fight the other night…And A hockey game broke out!” ~Rodney Dangerfield~

  36. Habs Fan in Hogtown says:

    Wow… Subban looks like he’s having so much fun on the ice. What a goal. I can’t wait until he’s in the bigs, his enthusiam alone will make him our secret weapon in the dressing room!

  37. showey47 says:

    Carbo’s crazy line juggling drove me nuts,i think i had finally had enough when we played the oilers last year and josh gorges ended up playing left wing that game and we got destroyed. Funny that with all the combo’s he had,he never tried the one that worked the best koivu-kovy-tanguay. They were on fired when gainey put them together.

  38. andrewberkshire says:

    Sometimes I even call out the undeserving to keep them on their toes, watch-out Gionta!

  39. SeriousFan09 says:

    The idea of Mcguire running an NHL team, what a joke. But well worth it if he got the job in Toronto :)


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  40. petefleet says:

    I felt bad for Carbo but I won’t lie, his line juggling used to drive me crazy.  Some of the other things he did kinda left me puzzled as well.  He will coach again in the NHL.  Gainey on the other hand will not work in a high profile NHL job again.

    Go Habs Go

  41. andrewberkshire says:

    I still don’t understand how that doesn’t follow Burke around. I clearly remember Brian Burke stating in a press conference that Steve Moore was going to get targeted in the next game against the Avalanche, and he advised Moore to “keep your head up”.

  42. SeriousFan09 says:

    Maybe I’m noticing it because it’s more unique, most people here for most of the year have been just been laying into the Canadiens and the Leafs, you’re more of an equal opportunity guy I think, someone deserves to get called out, you call ‘em out regardless of where they are.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  43. andrewberkshire says:

    Did I say he hasn’t been good? No. I said their analysis was off. I’ve watched all of Gui’s goals since he went over, and barely any of them are of the garbage variety that MacTavish described. Most of them were snipes from the slot or the perimeter. He still rarely goes to the net, but he’s playing with talented linemates that aren’t the most amazing skaters, so he fits in better.

  44. Habhopeful says:

    He also said “Montreal Ruined Latendresse” & And like you said the Mueller as a preist thing.>>And he said “First thing i would have done as WIld Gm had I got that job…Get rid of Pouliot”…And now he is saying Latendresse will have a better career lol


    “I went to see a fight the other night…And A hockey game broke out!” ~Rodney Dangerfield~

  45. CanadienBoy says:

    Tender will not last, by next year he will fall back in is comfort zone just like Riders easy does it !

  46. andrewberkshire says:

    I don’t think I’ve been laying into anymore people than anyone else has.

  47. habs001 says:

    by the time we play  the leafs  ottawa will have played one more game…that must be the first time in months that we have not played the most games in the league…..

  48. showey47 says:

    bingo about your second sentence,it was also no coincedence that burke wasn’t brought back for the following season after the incident happened.

  49. Habhopeful says:

    Im Sorry Andrew…But I dont think you’ve been paying attention to highlights…Credit where credit is due…He is a different player…Just like Pouliot…And Just like Mueller (Will become)…Its difficult to say who will be better…Gui is not the Gui we know…Hes sum’thin else…This year may be flukey…But I really dont think it is…





    “I went to see a fight the other night…And A hockey game broke out!” ~Rodney Dangerfield~

  50. andrewberkshire says:

    Yannick Weber was a +5 tonight! Wow! Nice to finally see him turning his season around.

  51. SeriousFan09 says:

    Just seems you’ve been laying into a lot of people around the NHL lately. Granted, not that I can blame you with this year’s antics and troubles league-wide. Dislike quite a few of those twits myself.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  52. andrewberkshire says:

    Maybe Carbo will work for free, he’s still being payed by Montreal anyway.

  53. andrewberkshire says:

    Relative to how many people are in the NHL or employed by it I don’t think I dislike that many. Crawford however ordered the Bertuzzi hit, and he’s a crap coach on top of that.

  54. SeriousFan09 says:

    There’s something strange about the Calgary-Colorado game, there have been 14 shots on the Calgary net and Toskala hasn’t let a goal in yet.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  55. diehardhab says:

    It’s time for a Timo post!

    The torch be yours to hold it high!

  56. Exit716 says:

    Dallas is in big trouble with Hicks’s financial problems.


  57. SeriousFan09 says:

    Let’s not forget, Mcguire kept saying Mueller wasn’t really interested in playing hockey and was going to go be a priest or something. All he needed to do is go somewhere where he could find his game again.


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  58. SeriousFan09 says:

    You really dislike a lot of people around the NHL don’t you Andrew?


    - I shall always remember Captain Koivu.

  59. andrewberkshire says:

    Agree with you there, and MacTavish must not be paying attention to the highlights because I’ve rarely seen Gui go to the net, most of his goals in Minnesota are snipes. He’s having a good season, we’ll see if he ever has another one. Both Mueller and Pouliot are way better hockey players than Latendresse.

  60. Big Bird says:

    Thanks for the reply Dave.  You raise some good points.  I have doubts that Carbo wasn’t ranting but just had questions and that you stayed out of the way to let him speak his peace.  I have no doubts (nor should anyone else) that your article is as professional as your other work as a journalist.  I look forward to reading it.

  61. andrewberkshire says:

    I’m sure that Carbonneau will have a shot at coaching in the NHL as soon as next season. I wouldn’t be the least surprised to see him go to Dallas after that tool Crawford is canned. At the very least Carbo would know how to get the team going offensively.

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