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Bear Essentials: March 9th

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
8:20 p.m.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey answer questions after firing coach Guy Carbonneau in Montreal on Monday March 9, 2009. Gainey will take over coaching duties. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)
The Canadiens have fired their head coach Guy Carbonneau.

At a 7:00 p.m. press conference broadcast on, Montreal Canadiens General Manager – and now head coach – Bob Gainey discussed the reasoning behind his relieving Carbonneau from his coaching duties and his taking over the reigns.

“In the last eight weeks of performance [the team] has been below average and I believe that a change in the direction at ice level is necessary,” said Gainey in a prepared statement. “I began my reflection on Saturday and made my final decision this morning.

“With 16 games left to play in the regular season I felt this change was necessary to in order to maximize our chance of being one of the teams to participate in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.

The Canadiens fired Carbonneau and replaced him with team general manager Bob Gainey on Monday, March 9, 2009. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
“I will be assuming the responsibilities of head coach until the end of the season [and will] keep my general manager’s duties,” he said.

During the question and answer period that followed, Gainey admitted that he “would’ve loved not to be with you today and be in a position where I was commenting on the great work of our coaching staff and our players, but I find ourselves in a position that requires my intervention.

“The response is my decision today,” he continued. “I feel like it is necessary to make a change, but the real answer will be [in] the results 35 days from now.”

Pressed for more answers, Gainey said he had watched his club very closely.

“It showed up as ‘effort’ but I felt it was a [lack of] emotional engagement to a game,” said Gainey of a recent viewing. “Our team would not seem to be emotionally engaged when most of the outside information – who we were playing, the importance of the game, the standings on that particular day and whether we would move up or down – shouldn’t have reflected the kind of play and performance of our team.”

Click here for the official release on

Click here for coverage on the Montreal Gazette's
Obviously, what happens to the Montreal Canadiens will make a difference to the Boston Bruins. It will be interesting to see if Coach Gainey can right the ship right away. JB

3:49  p.m.
Kevin and Marc Walsh were just two of the many Bruins fans on hand in New York on Sunday.
Team activities are done for the day.

Fernandez, Thomas, Hunwick, Montador, Bitz and Wheeler were on the ice this morning with goalie coach Bob Essensa and Doug Houda. Coach Julien was not on the ice and was not available to the media.

Montadore, who was apparently suffering from a stomach bug, is feeling much better and did not have any difficulties.

"Having played two games in three days and [with the] travel...with a couple hours of sleep and coming right back to Boston to play another game I think I was a bit worn down," said Montadore. "My immune system was a little shot."

12:36 p.m.

Manny Fernandez
The Bruins are on the ice and both Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas are amongst the small gathering of players who are practicing.

Fernandez looked disconsolate after yesterday's game.

"It's stuff that you don't see very often," said Fernandez of his day between the pipes on Sunday -- a day that included short side goals, a puck that snuck away from his embrace and trickled past the goal line and a pinball-like play which resulted in the game winner.

"The only way I can see [to correct it] is to keep working as hard as you can," continued the goalie. "It's costing this team some valuable points."

"I don't want to take too much on my shoulders, but I've got to find a way to turn this around.

"I can't catch a break -- whatever I do," said Fernandez to the gathered press. "I try to go for the pass and he is going to go shortside. I feel like my skate is right on the post and it isn't.

"Normally it's not an issue, but right now, the way that things are going...I don't want to bow my head, but I am going to [have to turn the page] and go to work again.

"I've been working really hard in practice, so it's not even a question of the good shots, it's the stuff that you don't see very often," said Fernandez. "If I see the shot, usually there is no problem. Again, it's about the hard work you get in practice and we'll see what happens."

Don't count Claude Julien amongst Manny's detractors.

"He's always hard on himself," said Julien of Fernandez. "It's like any other thing. We talked about some tough goals and yah, there were some tough goals, but we still had a chance to win.

"If everyone is hard on themselves and wants to do something about it as much as he does, we'll be okay."

12:08 p.m.
Columbus Blue Jackets's Rick Nash (61) celebrates a goal with teammate Antoine Vermette (50) during the second period in an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Saturday, March 7, 2009. Nash had his fourth career hat trick and second against Detroit this season in the Blue Jackets' 8-2 victory. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
I am in the Disptach Ice Haus watching the remains of the Blue Jackets practice.

Like the Bruins often do after their practices at Wilmington's Ristuccia Arena, many of the Columbus players are having a impromptu scrimmage to close out their morning.

This is a beautiful facility. I have been to Nationwide Arena for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, and the big rink is very nice as well, but adding this hockey practice facility and ice rink to the mix is pretty darn cool (if you pardon the pun).

The city is pretty excited for the game tomorrow, and there are plenty of hockey fans on the street who are a.) excited to see the B's play and b.) excited about the prospect of playoff hockey.

Frankly, I am just excited to have caught up with some sleep.

After a nice flight from Newark, NJ after the Rangers game (although winds here made the landing a little less than Bish-approved), a stop at a terrific place called the "R Bar" -- an honest to goodness hockey bar -- and a comfortable bed, I myself am ready for a long playoff run...

....or at the very least I will be awake until we get to Pittsburgh on Sunday.

I went in to the weekend knowing that one of my alma maters was going to be the Hockey East regular season champions. Boston University won out and I am pleased to extend my congratulations to head coach Jack Parker and Co.

10:30 a.m.

There was an expectation that Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien would be breathing (see picture at right) when he met with the media postgame on Sunday.

And that expectation was wrong.

"I thought we played well," said Julien. "This was our second game in less than 24 hours and the energy that was deployed in this game was very good.

"Again I think with a break here or there, it could have easily been our game.  I honestly thought we deserved better.”

The afternoon did have a strange feel to it, but give the Rangers credit. They met the Eastern Conference leaders and gave the Bruins a real game.

"I thought everybody pushed and tried to make it as good a game as we could," explained Julien. "We knew that they were fresh and they were waiting for us [so] we basically had to use as much of our bench as we could.

"We really shortened shifts in the 3rd period.  We put a lot of energy into it. We got ourselves back in the game and with a break here or there, I honestly I thought we could have won that one.”

Beyond the Rangers, Julien said, "We had to fight a bit of adversity."

"We've got three guys with cuts on their [faces] and we basically came out of it with one high sticking penalty...and we lost few guys with different issues.

"And pucks were bouncing," said the head coach in reference to the ice conditions.

Speaking of bounces, the fortuitous bounce that the Rangers got off the end boards on the game winner was the talk of MSG.

"It missed the net completely on one side and how it bounces back to the other side from the middle is beyond me," he said. "Those are the breaks that you hope you could have had going your way.

"But as long as the effort was there, I can live with this," said Julien. "We'll win more of those than we'll lose."
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