You want to know what happened to the Montreal Canadiens this week? Very simple. The players have been acting up for weeks and weeks and wound up spinning the situation out of control with horrible performances on the ice and embarrassing conduct off it. Guy Carbonneau's presence did not seem to deter the team from pursuing this destructive disorder. No threats worked, not the benchings, the punishing practice, the pandering, nothing.
The only menace that would send a shiver down the players' spines was : Wait till your father gets home.
Daddy came home this week. And ya don't fuck with Daddy.
Daddy comes through the front door and suddenly the frenetic craziness at home, the jumping on the bed, the bouncing off the walls, the food fights, the screaming to your heart's content, they all stop. Suddenly, you hear the door and it's "Oooohhhh!" Stand up straight, fix your hair, arrange the couches on the sofa, shove EVERYTHING under the bed and beat the clock that starting ticking when Daddy's footsteps are heard from the stairs he begins to climb steadily.
Things sort of look okay by the time Daddy enters your room. You've definitely calmed down, you've stopped throwing the cat around, and for all intents and purposes everything looks normal. But Daddy's pretty smart and he sees you panting behind your attempt to project quiet obedience. He knows what you've done, and now that he's there, you know you're going to stop.
Daddy (actually, granddaddy since last week) climbed down the stairs from his front office this week and entered the room. And I bet you could have heard a pin drop. I bet you could have heard a mime show in Papua New Guinea.
No more clowning around kids, and it starts now. I'm going to be fair with you because I care about you, but you're not getting away with any of this anymore. Nothing needs to be said when the proverbial daddy comes home (a role often played by the amazing mommies of this world). His presence is sufficient.
Daddy watched the team roar back to life in the first period against the Oilers last night. He watched them spin their wheels in the second, but he did not punish, he empowered. He encouraged. But this was still Daddy talking and you don't fuck with the Daddy. Because you're never going to get away with it. His look will suffice, Daddy doesn't need words.
If Guy Carbonneau can be blamed for a lack of communication skills, for not providing the players with enough information to set them on the right course, paradoxically, Gainey's immense gift lies in the fact that the players don't need his verbal skills to show them the way. It becomes intuitive and it only requires a few words to emphasize, to state what has already become obvious.
The team responded well last night, all things considered. Gainey's words were heard loud and clear, even though he probably never verbalized them.