Tag Archives: Guy Carbonneau

Habs Coaches: second year blues

Quick Sunday post this evening.

A few weeks ago, I detailed how the Montreal Canadiens’ stunning playoff run deodorized what was an historically lackluster first regular season for coach Jacques Martin. Well, if history is anything to go by, regular season #2 could be even tougher for Martin.

Since the beginning of Toe Blake’s tenure, there has been an uncanny tendency for Habs teams to regress during a coach’s second full regular season leading the squad. Since 1955-1956, 9 coaches have started their Habs coaching tenure with at least two full regular seasons. Looking at their teams’ year-over-year performances in terms of three distinct metrics–changes in regulation winning %, team goals versus NHL average (GVA), and team goals allowed versus NHL average (GAVA)–it becomes readily apparent that success behind the Habs bench during a coach’s second regular season has been significantly harder to come by.

Red denotes a year over year decline in the relevant metric, and there’s a lot of red on that table. Indeed, only Scotty Bowman and Guy Carbonneau posted better numbers across the board in their second regular seasons as Habs bench bosses. That’s the bad news. The good news is that two coaches (Blake and Bowman) won Stanley Cups in their second seasons, while 3 more made it as least as far as the second round.

Blake: From 1st to 2nd in 6-team league (won Cup)
Ruel: From 1st in the East to 5th in the East (no playoffs)
Bowman: From 3rd in East to 1st in East (won Cup)
Berry: From 1st in the Adams to 2nd in the Adams (swept in Round 1)
Perron: Held steady at 2nd in the Adams (lost in Conference Finals)
Burns: From 1st in the Adams to 3rd in the Adams (eliminated in Round 2)
Demers: Held steady at 3rd in division (bounced in Round 1)
Vigneault: From 4th in Northeast to 5th in Northeast (no playoffs)
Carbonneau: From 4th in Northeast to 1st in Northeast (fell in Round 2)

So where will Martin fit into all this? Hopefully more like Carbo than Vigneault or more like Bowman than Berry.


Act 2: The Productivity of Quebec-born Players on the Montreal Canadiens

Consider this a sister post to the previous one, which documented the Quebec-born presence on the Montreal Canadiens since expansion. This post examines the productivity of Quebec-born skaters on the Montreal Canadiens since 1967.

An analysis of the data reveals a simple yet stunning conclusion: measured in terms of goals per man game, the productivity of Quebec-born skaters on the Canadiens has fallen precipitously since the late 1980s.

Montreal Canadiens Quebec-born Players: Productivity

In the 1970s, the average Quebec-born skater accounted for slightly less than 0.3 goals per regular season game played. That number held steady during the 1980s. Indeed, 1987-1988 represented a banner year for home grown talent, as Quebec-born skaters averaged 0.344 goals per man game in the regular season, the second highest level achieved since expansion. Stephane Richer potted 50, Claude Lemieux added 31, and Guy Carbonneau contributed a respectable 17.

But in the 1990s, the productivity of Quebec-born talent fell off drastically. To cite but one example, in 1998-1999 Quebec-born skaters scored only 0.121 goals per man game in the regular season–a productivity level that was 65% lower than in 1987-1988. Benoit Brunet led all Quebec-born skaters in that year of famine with only 14 goals.

As mentioned in the previous post, Andre Savard’s term in the early 2000s saw a rebound in the presence of Quebec-born talent on the Habs. Unfortunately, that talent was woefully unproductive. In 2002-2003, Quebec-born skaters eked out a measly 0.101 goals per man game–the lowest mark since expansion (and likely of all-time). If we remove the 24 goals netted by Yannic Perreault, the rest of the Quebec-born skaters on the team (there were 10 others) combined for only 38 goals in 541 man games. Compelling evidence that quantity is not a guarantee of quality.

In 2009-2010, Quebec-born skaters accounted for 0.124 goals per man game, right in line with the decade average of 0.126. Here’s hoping that Mathieu Darche, Maxim Lapierre, and perhaps David Desharnais can push that number up this season, but I’m not holding my breath.