BROSSARD – The Habs have a secret weapon in their arsenal and he knows a thing or two about how to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in the postseason.
When Pierre Gauthier took the reins from Bob Gainey in February, he knew exactly what he was doing when he kept the former GM around as a special advisor. Gainey may be behind the scenes these days, but his impact is as strong as ever inside the Canadiens’ locker room.
“It’s nice to have him around. He’s a great hockey guy and he knows a lot about the game,” explained Brian Gionta
of his Hall-of-Famer ex-boss. “When you have guys around like that to throw things off of or talk about situations with, it’s good to have on hand. What he did in the offseason was pretty drastic but right now, we’re having fun with the team he put together.”
Having made his living playing deep into the postseason with the Canadiens year after year, Gainey has plenty of playoff experience to dole out to his former charges when necessary. And who better to help lend a hand to a speedy crop of Habs against a team of bruising Flyers than the man who help put an end to the Broad Street Bullies’ reign of terror in 1976?
One of his prize offseason acquisitions, Michael Cammalleri, may be reporting to a new general manager these days, but it hasn’t stopped the shifty sniper from soaking up his former boss’ advice like a sponge this spring.
"I don't know what his exact title is now, but he's adding so much because you can have candid conversations with him," described Cammalleri, who has 13 goals already this postseason "There's a certain protocol you follow with a general manager, because he's still making certain decisions and you can't have as candid a conversation as you'd like. Now with him being around on a daily basis to add specific insight on how we can play is pretty cool. When he’s talking, I’m all ears.”
Even Jacques Martin hasn’t been immune to The Gainey Effect this spring.
“The one thing I know is that I have a great cast of support. here. Having an individual like Bob Gainey with us is very helpful,” explained the Canadiens bench boss. “I remember talking with Ken Hitchcock, and Ken telling me how much of a factor Bob was when they won the Cup in Dallas. To me, that's why Bob's been around the team since we started the playoffs. Bob has a different outlook on games and brings different ideas. He's been a big help.”
While Martin has seen the impact that having a six-time Cup champ to count on for advice can have first-hand, he isn’t stopping there when it comes to giving credit where it’s due for the current playoff run.
“The coaching staff has been outstanding. It's everybody. It's really a great team chemistry. And I think I've said it before, I felt that our leadership here has been a big factor,” effused Martin. “But it's a different leadership from the standpoint that people like Gionta, Gomez, Travis Moen
, Hal Gill have won the Cup, and they've won through the process, and I think these individuals have been really helpful to the team in these times.”
A key part of the leadership group that was hand-picked by Gainey this past summer, Hal Gill couldn’t agree more with his coach’s assessment of the longtime Habs captain.
“You talk about Bob Gainey and how he’s calm and just kind of goes through things and maintains the course,” said Gill, who hoisted the Cup with the Penguins one year ago. “Everyone brings something to the table, whether it’s Lappy getting everyone fired up or someone saying the right words to calm everyone down or cracking a joke at the right time. It takes all those things, and that’s what team chemistry comes into play. It’s about being in the locker room and being in control; never getting too high or too low.”
No one knows more about that than Bob Gainey.Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.See alsoPlayoff centralCanadiens storm back Goals anyone?