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Carbonneau proud and disappointed in wake of firing

Wednesday, 03.18.2009 / 3:31 PM / NHL Insider

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

Former Montreal Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau, fired on March 9 with his team in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, thanked team owner George N. Gillett Jr. for the chance to coach the Canadiens and said he was proud of what the team accomplished in his four years at the helm, including winning the Eastern Conference during the 2007-08 regular season.

"I'm upset," Carbonneau said Tuesday in a press conference. "It's the first time I've ever been fired. Everybody that knows me, knows I'm a pretty positive person. I was like that when I played and I'm like that when I coach and as a human being. The sun always comes up."

Carbonneau addressed the media during a Tuesday afternoon press conference at the Bell Centre, nine days after his unexpected dismissal.

Carbonneau said in Tuesday's remarks that General Manager Bob Gainey, the man who hired him and then replaced him as coach, gave him no indication he was about to be fired.

When he was asked how shocked he was by his firing, on a scale of 1-to-10, Carbonneau replied, "12," adding that no matter the difficulties facing the team, he thought the Canadiens had the potential to overcome their problems.

When Carbonneau was asked if he thought there was a sufficient amount of trust between Gainey and himself to allow Carbonneau to direct the team out of its slump, the former coach answered, "It's what I had hoped for."

He said Gainey delivered the news in a 10-minute conversation at Carbonneau's home.

"The meeting with Bob was very brief," Carbonneau said. "We are friends and it was certainly difficult to come to my house to give me the news. He saw I was very disappointed and didn't want to expand on the matter. I am sure that in time we will meet again and we will get the chance to talk about it in detail."

Carbonneau said he wasn't surprised that some players had negative attitudes this season. He said that as a veteran player, he has seen it before.

"It's part of the game," he said.

"I'd like to turn the page and move on. I'm proud of what I accomplished as a head coach the last four years, especially last year when we won the Eastern Conference and I was runner-up for Coach of the Year."
-- Guy Carbonneau

Carbonneau shot down a rumor that he rushed goalie Carey Price back from an injury, noting that Jaroslav Halak, who had been playing well, was suffering from the flu.

"Absolutely not!" Carbonneau said. "The reason why Carey was playing was because the other goalie had a virus and wasn't ready. I went and talked to him, asking how he was feeling. (Halak) wasn't ready so I had to go with the healthy one -- Price."

Carbonneau said he will continue to root for the Canadiens and attend games as a member of the community. He said he had long hoped for the opportunity to coach the Canadiens and will miss it.

"I must accept (Gainey's) decision," Carbonneau said. "I'd like to turn the page and move on. I'm proud of what I accomplished as a head coach the last four years, especially last year when we won the Eastern Conference and I was runner-up for Coach of the Year."

Since the firing, the Canadiens have slipped from fifth place to seventh place in the Eastern Conference, boasting one win from four home games. They lost to the New Jersey Devils Saturday in regulation, lost to the New York Islanders in overtime on March 12 and lost in a shootout Tuesday to the New York Rangers.

Asked if he thought Gainey made the right decision in firing him, Carbonneau said, "Time will tell."

Carbonneau said he'll take some vacation soon, while continuing to follow the NHL.

He said he would be interested in coaching another team if the conditions are right for him.

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres