Time for Sergei and Jacques to Kiss and Make Up

Sergei Kostitsyn is a tremendous hockey player.
But he’s got a pissy attitude and has walked into a head coach who can’t stand him.

Sergei hates Jacques and Jacques hates Sergei.

This adolescent feud of theirs is bad news for Habs fans.

Jacques Martin is hurting the Montreal Canadiens right now by not icing the best possible line-up. Instead of dressing Sergei, he gets nice guy Mathieu Darche to ride the pine.

For the entire game.

00:00 minutes of ice-time.

Seriously?

That’s just insulting.

Basically JM is telling Darche that he’s not really good enough to play but he likes him better than Sergei. Instead of being a head coach, Martin is acting like a petty teenager girl who’s made at her boyfriend.

“No Sergei, not tonight. I’m going to hang out with Mathieu tonight – at least he’s nice to me.”

But in his heart of hearts, Jacques knows that Mathieu is not the one for him. Sergei is.
He’s just too stubborn to admit it.

Sergei meanwhile is reinforcing his bad boy rep by skipping out early on practice and shrugging off his teammates.

But in his heart of hearts, he does want to play for this team. He’s just too stubborn to admit it.

It’s time for both sides to get over themselves, their egos, and do what’s good for the team.

SK74 can play on the powerplay, on the penalty kill, and is feisty and smart 5-on-5. He’s had success in the OHL, AHL, and has shown great potential in the NHL.

In 2006 his was named tournament MVP at the World Juniors (Pool B).

After playing well for HK Gomel in Belarus, Sergei moved to North America to adapt to the different style of play, mainly because he wanted to get a shot in the NHL.

During his first season with the London Knights, he was voted one of the league’s top rookies (behind John Tavares and Logan Couture). In his first OHL playoff game he notched 5 assists and a goal.
He clinched the semis with an overtime winner.

What’s that saying about big players being able to elevate their game?

 

In 2006-07, Kostitsyn amassed 131 points in only 59 games and led the league with 91 helpers.
That’s an average of 2.22 points per game.

Sure the 2005 7th round pick had some good linemates in Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane, (and also Dave Bolland and Rob Schremp) but Sergei is the real deal.

He’s got good hockey sense and can play both ends of the rink.

Sam Gagner thinks so:

He can play the power play and he can kill penalties. He would play the whole five minutes (London) if the other team got a major penalty, then if we got an infraction right after, he’d play defence.” 

He hits hard, won’t back down in a fight and plays bigger than he is.
Sound like anyone else on the Habs roster?

I’m not saying he’s as good as Brian Gionta or Scott Gomez, but he does have that potential.
Give him the responsibility and he’ll play hard, he’ll play smart.

Guy Boucher seemed to be getting it out of him in Hamilton.

 

He’s an offensively gifted, two-way impact player.

A healthy scratch 5 games in a row.

Sigh.


We all know that Sergei’s relationship with Jacques Martin and the Canadiens organization is strained – at best.

But at some point, both sides have to pull up their big boy pants and get over it.
Sergei is hurting his career with his attitude.
Jacques Martin is hurting the team’s chances of winning by not playing Sergei.

How long can the Habs continue to roll only 3 lines? Especially now, with Andrei Markov out, there’s going to be much more pressure on players. Without number 79, it’s going to be harder to defend in our zone and move the puck up the ice. His absence also hurts our powerplay.

Sure the first wave looks good with MAB and P.K. Subban, but what about the second unit?

Putting Josh Gorges and Roman Hamrlik on the blueline during the man-advantage isn’t going to light the lamp. The Penguins know this and will take full advantage. I love Gorges but nobody’s scared of his point shot. The Habs need backend presence with the General out of the line-up.

But wait!

Sergei used to play the point on the powerplay in London?

He set the franchise record for assists?

… and he’s still in the pressbox.

Sigh.

 

Great coaches coach to a player’s strength and will put them in situations where they can succeed.

 

But the Habs have made it this far without him, so they don’t need him, right?
Mathieu Darche must be playing well to dress for the Canadiens, right?
What’s that you say?
Darche had exactly 00:00 of ice-time in Tuesday’s loss?
And we were lacking offense during that game?

Sigh.

I like Mathieu Darche.
He’s a hometown boy, went to McGill, and has been grinding out a pro-career.
He works hard, doesn’t complain and is probably an amazing teammate.

But Sergei has more, and better, skills.

The team needs a 4th line to eat up some minutes. They need more offense, more defense and more energy. Four lines spreads out the punishment.

 

Sergei Kostitsyn is also an asset to this organization. He moved to North America to play in the NHL, he’s adapted to the culture (or at least the language) better than his older brother. He was drafted by the Canadiens, developed by them. The NHL team that picked him 200th overall and had faith in him. He has the opportunity to play on the same team as his brother.

He doesn’t want to play in the KHL but will if he has to

This team has lost enough assets over the past few years.
Let’s try to hold on to some.

 

Yes, Sergei’s attitude sucks right now but from his perspective, he’s done with this team.
Ben Maxwell gets into the line up. 1 :03 of ice-time.
Mathieu Darche gets into the line-up. Zero minutes of ice-time.

Number 74 in the pressbox again.

Sergei feels that Jacques Martin has been treating him unfairly. Each time a “lesser” player makes the line-up ahead of Sergei, this belief is reinforced.

And that attitude won’t magically change on it’s own.
Jacques has to step up and be the bigger man.

Fix this situation.
This is not how you should coach. Right now, it’s not hockey, it’s personal.
And you can’t afford these types of spats in the NHL.

 

Granted, Sergei is not being a good teammate right now.
He’s skipping out of practice early.
He’s walking away from conversations and responsibilities.

Teammates shouldn’t do that.

But right now Sergei doesn’t feel like part of this team.
And he doesn’t think that anything he does will draw him back into the line-up.

I believe that too.

Sergei could probably levitate during practice right now and score goals using only the power of his thoughts and Jacques Martin would still not play the kid.

 

Ultimately, Jacques Martin is responsible for the success of this team and the players on it.
He’s got to be man enough to do things even when he doesn’t want to.
He’s the coach, the leader.

It’s his job to get the most out of this team.
And team includes very player – even Sergei Kostitsyn.

It’s not the time of year to hold grudges and make decisions out of spite.
Leave the high school drama behind you.

 

Jacques – get over yourself and straighten things out with Sergei. Otherwise you’re just hurting the team.

Sergei – shut up and play. You’ve got your chance so make the most of it. Prove that you belong.

23 Comments

  1. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …Chris …I don’t believe Guy Boucher is completely ready to be Coach of Our Team next season, especially making it difficult is that Kirk Muller and Jacques Martin have a complimentary-sympatico going between each other as We can see in these playoffs

    …What I do believe is that the Montreal Canadiens should find a way to keep Boucher from being hired by another team until He is ready to take over Our Habs

    …the reason I believe Guy Boucher would make an ideal Coach for Our Team is because I think He would use the current and coming (…Leblanc, Kristo, Desharnais, hopefully Avtsin, etc.) Offensive Assets more effectively into a Firewagon-type Offensive yet D-responsible Team than Martin

    …as importantly I believe Guy Boucher better understands how to ‘nurture’ the varied-personalities, especially younger Players as Sergei Kostitsyn to convince Them of integrating Their unique skills into a Team-concept

    …it may be too-late to save Sergei, but My hope is Guy Boucher will be brought-up as an Assistant-coach to put a year of NHL experience under His belt with Martin and Muller

    …how realistic this is I don’t know, because it seems Gauthier is signed as a longterm GM that apparently would prevent JM to be moved-upstairs (unless as an Assistant GM), and Muller may have made a case for Himself as a Head Coach

    …but the Montreal Canadiens NEED someone like a Guy Boucher either at the AHL-level or in Montreal to use His progressive ability to recognize Players as individuals yet can mould Them to full-potential

    …I HOPE someone in the Organization can save Us ‘losing’ Sergei K., yet THAT seems like a ship that has already sailed …sadly

    …MORE importantly, is The Habs find someway NOT lose Guy Boucher …to minimize such wasted-asset Sergei-type dilemmas in the future

     

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  2. bmt6017 says:

    exactly, thats what i dont want to see. someone else takin advatange of his skills and becoming a solid offensive player… on another team

  3. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    a lot of people are saying sergei will definitely be in the KHL next season… that doesn’t bother me as worrying about some team like Chicago taking a gamble on him (young player with potential, CHEAP) and meshing again with kane. i’d drive me crazy to see him end up in the NHL in the next 2 years as a top 6 forward.

  4. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    “Chris, this is really THE WRONG TIME to gnaw on THIS bone” – you’re right. i wish they’d resolved this back in march. or even september.

    “..AND when Your own Team-mates apparently can’t stand Your guts ???” – yeah, that’s a problem. but nothing like a good team building exercise like bowling to fix that, right?

  5. bmt6017 says:

    Has sergei ever gotten the chance on a line with someone else somewhat offensivly talented? when he does produce he seems to do it alone. hes a great penalty killer, as mentioned. but how about powerplay.. pouliot hasnt done anything this playoffs, yet he keeps getting some powerplay time. It may be a bold statement to say that sergei has more offensive talent than pouliot, but i havnt seen sergei on the powerplay in forever. the kid has moves and a great shot, and great playmaking vision. He plays great with his brother too, they havnt played together in a long time and when they do they play very well. Now i know its reasonable to say get rid of both of them because they dont display a solid ‘team’ behaviour, especially when sergei isnt in the lineup, but i really dont want to see another team take the advantage of playing the two together, or just even giving sergei more than 10 minutes of ice time, because they definitely have the potential to produce solid offensive numbers. 

  6. rut1212 says:

    I thought Sergei put in the effort in his games in these playoffs. Also, as well as Martin has done with the team in the playoffs, I have a lot of confidence in what Guy Boucher is doing with the Bulldogs, and would rather see him in Montreal soon, than lose him to another NHL team.

  7. Habitant in Surrey says:

    …My opinion since the beginning of the season was Our Habs needed BOTH the Ks to bloom this season for Us to go anywhere worthwhile …and You have previously read my opinions on JM …yet, Chris, this is really THE WRONG TIME to gnaw on THIS bone

    …JM doesn’t seem the type to bury a talented hockey player unless there were seriously relevant extenuated-circumstances

    …AND when Your own Team-mates apparently can’t stand Your guts ??? …I would trust in the good-judgement of Jacques Martin at this time, and let things devolve in the summer

    Habitant means PASSIONATE HOCKEY

    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=423049

  8. New says:

    Chris I honestly think neither we, nor the press, have a clue about the team. We see what we see on the ice but we don’t know who is giving what, doing what, or saying what. When players, staff, and coaches are around fans they are “on”. When you meet players with their guard down they are real people. They say real things.

    The Kostitsyns are very talented players. They would not be in the NHL if they were not. But I’m here to tell you if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a canard, then in all probability it isn’t all we think it is. The team appears to be trying. Trying really hard to scrape the doo-doo off it’s shoes and salvage what has been a very disappointing three year run.

    They took out Washington, a heavy favorite and superior team. They could have taken Washington in five, maybe six, but in typical Habs form couldn’t muster up the confidence in each other. Admittedly Washington was ripe for the plucking, but still this was a notable achievement. The Kostitsyns did really little or nothing constructive in that series, just as they achieved all season.

    Now the team is trying on the Pens. Crosby is different from Ovechkin. Crosby wants to win and elevates his team to a new test. The Pens are a great team, the defending Cup champions. They won’t go easily, probably not at all. But they can go. A team can take out a group of players. A team can battle another team, maybe take them, maybe not. But it is possible if everyone is focused, on the same page, and on the team regardless of role.

    But the playoffs are not a 82 game schedule of gate receipts and endorsements. The playoffs go by quick. I don’t think teams have time to wait for the Kostitsyns to decide they want to play. Nor should they bend a knee for either of them based on their performance. The young men are being paid big bucks to act and perform professionally, they are not meeting that obligation, and I suspect the team has no time right now to deal with tantrums.

    Just an opinion. Keep on writing Chris, you are always worth the read.

    Cheers.

  9. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    looks like you win… JM had talk with SK74 and he’s working out by himself in the gym. not even suiting up for practice anymore…

  10. ed lopaz says:

    Habs hockey = Smart hockey we work as a team, and we win as a team. we play 5 man defence – not just 2. we play with energy, we play with Subban in Markov’s place (for now) – Pk could have been with us since the Olympics, but nevermind that.

    this is what happens when you hire an old fashioned coach – old school, habits die hard.

    I agree with you when you say this started right from the get go.

    I agree that JM seems to be incapable of handling, improving, or even motivating young players.

    but NOW its way too late in the game for this.

    that’s where you and I disagree.

    the war is on.

    maybe after the season is over, but not now.

     

  11. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    Thanks Ed. I know this whole Sergei-gate is a fairly contentious issue amongst Habs fans… my main beef is that the organizations has been mis-handling its young players recently and that’s something you just can’t do in today’s NHL. Good teams are developing from within and working veterans into the cap… we’re doing the opposite and it’s going to hurt our future.

     

    1) Maybe this is true. Sergei doesn’t seem to be on the ice at this mornings practice. So maybe somebody spoke and SK has been removed. But like I’ve been saying… I think a lot of Sergei’s attitude stems from the fact that he’s not playing. During training camp and then in this last part of the year, Jacques Martin has been singling out Sergei. Everyone makes mistakes but JM latches on to anything 74 does wrong. I respect guys like Darche and Metro but I think JM has also given them more of an opportunity to succeed. I’d probably start developing some attitude if I felt that I was being unfairly treated.

     

    2)If that’s true then the Habs should have removed him from the roster after they spoke to him and he didn’t react. It’s not like Laraque where he’d still be taking up a roster space (if this had happened before the playoffs started) he could just be demoted or cut loose and that’s that. I’m not convinced that any real effort was made to “clear the air”.

     

    I really feel that the heart of the matter is a perception issue. From Day 1, Jacques perceived that Sergei was lazy and arrogant. From Day 1, Sergei perceived that he was being treated unfairly. These perceptions developed back in September and these attitudes have only been reinforced as the season progressed. Everytime Sergei has been on the ice for a goal against, he’s been put into purgatory because Jacques perceives a lack of effort. SK meanwhile, sees this treatment as unfair because the other skaters on the ice don’t receive the same punishment.

    Lapierre was -14 this season and played like crap for most of it. But how often was he scratched compared to Sergei?

  12. ed lopaz says:

    Habs hockey = Smart hockey we work as a team, and we win as a team. we play 5 man defence – not just 2. we play with energy, we play with Subban in Markov’s place (for now) – Pk could have been with us since the Olympics, but nevermind that.

    Chris, you are a gifted writer and obviously a great hockey fan.

    Here are 2 points I would like you to consider. If you read this, and you have a minute, feel free to reply, I woyld be very glad to read it.

    1) Francois Gagnon – who you know and needs no introduction – is reporting that “veteran” players have gone to management and asked that Segei be removed from the lineup. M. Gagnon reported that today, Thursday morning on AM 990. If this is true, your entire argument that this falls on JM and a “personal” issue is completely negated.

    2) Isn’t it possible that the Habs already spoke to Sergei, tried to clear the air and make up? Isn’t it possible that he was offered the 4th line, filler role, the one the team needs him to play to give the other lines a breather? He did play that role a few games back, after all. Isn’t it also possible that Sergei has made it clear that he does not see himself on the 4th line – as a selfish player like him would be inclined to do??

    I appreciate your points of view, and respect them.

    I just think there’s more here than what you have described.

     


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