Carbonneau will add passion behind the Habs' bench

By Red Fisher, Montreal Gazette, 9/30/06

MONTREAL - Love him or hate him, the emotion Guy Carbonneau brought to the game during his on-ice career and could be the best thing the Montreal Canadiens have going for them this season. Carbonneau, the club's new head coach, doesn't have much more than last season's team to work with, but his players will discover in a hurry that anything less than their best will be unacceptable.

Emotion always was a part of Carbonneau's game as a player and he'll be wearing the same wardrobe in his new job.

Trouble is, it won't be enough unless her gets respect.

Will he get it?

"Respect is a big word,'' Carbonneau said. "I have hockey experience. I've been around it long enough. I've been playing pro hockey for 20 years. I've worked behind the bench for almost two years. I've worked in the office, so I would like to think that I deserve some of it (respect) for what I did in the past.

"I'd like to think I have the background to teach. The part that's missing . . . the fact that maybe not having experience as a head coach, well . . . it's gonna be up to me to show I can do it.

"I have to earn it,'' Carbo added. ``I don't' think that I'm sitting here and OK, I don't have to do anything except open the door. I think it will be the way I handle myself with the new generation of players, the way I teach the game to them, the way I handle the situation when we're going through hard times.

"I'm here to push every player to his maximum. Some people might not like it, some people will love it. You always have that, but as long as I'm fair and they understand that, I'll get the respect I need.

"It's not for me,'' he said. "It's for the team. Everything I always did was for the team, and that's not gonna change.

"Obviously, results are a big part of it.'' Carbonneau continued. "The quicker you can get there, the better it is. I'm more worried about the last game of the season than the first game. As long as we keep improving between the first and the last . . . as long as I see results, I think I'll be fine.''

Bob Berry was the Canadiens' head coach when Carbonneau joined the team as a regular for the 1982-83 season. He was followed by Jacques Lemaire, Jean Perron, Pat Burns and Jacques Demers. Mike Keenan was his coach in St. Louis, Bob Gainey and Ken Hitchcock in Dallas.

The coach he respected the most was Lemaire for his Hall of Fame career as a player and the quality of his teaching.

"I respected his way of taking the little things that some of us didn't think about and make it work,'' Carbonneau said. "He always believed in never being satisfied with the skills you had and made us work on them. He was driven. He believed that if the individual gets better, the team gets better.''

On emotion: "Behind the bench, there are times when you need to be emotional. What I have to do is learn when and how to do it. Try to pace myself. As a player, you do it more often.

"I don't want to hide that,'' he added. "When it's a big game, I want the players to know it's a big game. As a player, you spend 30 or 40 seconds on the ice, you do what you have to do, then you come back to the bench and try to catch your breath. As a coach, there are so many more things which go through your mind.''

Carbonneau insists he likes the team he's taking into the regular season.

The Alex Kovalev-Mike Ribeiro-Sergei Samsonov line was underwhelming during the exhibition season, but Carbonneau's not worried about that, either. Or so he says. He promises you'll be seeing a lot of it.

"Those three guys can help each other,'' Carbonneau said. "I see Samsonov E he's going to have to become more as a goal-scorer. All three want to carry the puck and cycle and feed each other. I know Mike is good at that and I know Kovy is there. I'm hoping Sergei can become more of a (Brendan) Shanahn . . . get to the opening and then once you get the puck you shoot at the net.''

"Is there pressure to win? Sure, there is,'' Carbonneau said. "Am I scared?'' he says. "Yes, a little bit. I'll manage,'' he said.

All he needs is respect.