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The curtain rises on Carbo’s second act Add to ...

Sure, we don’t look like much. But the handsomely compensated, chronically under-worked French Immersion executive committee knows a thing or two about reaching lofty heights, only to swiftly tumble back into the muck.

For instance: we were part of the plucky Cinderella team that captured the McGill Intramural “C” League hockey championship in 1991.

Hey, a cup’s a cup, even if it’s an easily-chipped glass beer stein.

Actually, that’s pretty much all we know about triumph, there may have been a few memorable rugby wins, but anyone who’s ever been around a rugby park knows it can get a little drunk out, and the game is pretty hard on the old long-term memory..

Yet we have also felt the sting of disgrace and flush of humiliation here at FI Content Partners – don’t be fooled by our veneer of invincibility.

Like the time we called former Quebec finance minister Monique Jérôme-Forget “Madame Jérôme-Choquette” (Choquette was attorney-general in the 1970s, and that’s a true story, which Mme. Jerome-Forget has been known to bring up on occasion, like at her retirement announcement).

All of which to say, we can empathize with the recent travails of our guy Guy.

As in Carbonneau, former captain of the Canadiens, three-time Stanley Cup winner, Jack Adams Trophy finalist.

And freshly-minted junior hockey coach.

Yes, we felt your pain, Carbo, as we will again in a weird, empathetic, achy kind of way: we know what it’s like to ride the bus to obscure burgs in (ital) le Québec profond (end ital) (two federal elections and four provincial campaigns must equal a couple of years in the Q, right?).

For those with short memories, Carbo ended up on the coaching soupline in the spring of 2009, and hasn’t had a sniff of an NHL bench since.

Seeing as he’s president and part-owner of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens (he also played for them in his junior career), his name logically popped up as a successor when the team gassed fiery head coach Richard Martel (one of the most successful coaches in QMJHL history) last week.

So little surprise, then, when he was introduced as Martel’s replacement – it’s the story that had Quebec sporting circles buzzing over the weekend..

“Hey, this is my chance to get back behind a bench,” he said on Monday.

And it’s surely not lost on Carbo that his old mucker Patrick Roy’s name often pops up in connection with coaching and GM vacancies (our spies tell us that’s the job Carbonneau would really like to do at the NHL level).

Alain Vigneault also demonstrated there’s merit in one-step-forward-two-steps-back-ing, rebounding from his ouster as Habs coach to insinuate his way back into the league with the ‘Nucks after stops with the P.E.I. Rocket and Manitoba Moose (shouldn’t that be Mooses? Meese?).

But – and there’s always a but – Mr. Carbonneau may have a few things to correct if he wants to regain the lofty heights of coaching a conference champ, as he did in 2007-08.

A couple of his former players told FI after Carbo’s departure that he wasn’t exactly Jon Gruden-esque in his work habits (not for him, the 5 a.m. office arrival), that his practices weren’t exactly Babcock-ian.

And that when the going got tough, Carbo just didn't have what it took to figure out a way to turn it around.

It’s the sort of thing that always comes out after a coach is fired – he was a crappy communicator, he wasn’t an Xs and Os guy – and now Carbonneau has a chance to show his chops once again.

The Official FI Impression ™ on Carbonneau is that his greatest difficulty was his inability to see the game through any other prism than the one he had when he was on the ice.

A doer, then, not an explainer, and a guy who had no patience for players who weren't as good as him (which applies to a good many, as it happens).

A couple of years on the sidelines – well-paid and high-profile though they may have been – will have helped create the distance he probably didn’t have when in his first pro go-round.

It ain’t the NHL, but it’s not like it’s terra incognita, and he already knows some of the coaches he’s up against (Roy is in Quebec with Remparts, Bobby Smith and his improbable thatch of hair are the owner/coach of the Halifax Mooseheads) He’s brought in fellow RDS pundit Marc Denis, a former NHL goalie who ended his career with the Habs’ affiliate in Hamilton, as an assistant coach.

That’s a smart move, Denis is as sharp as they come. But the team also announced that legendarily loopy Q hand Joe Canale would step in as GM until the end of the season. That could get interesting.

At least Carbo inherits a team that is on a three-game win streak and is assured of playing in the post-season – he has 16 or so games to whip them into shape – and says he’s not committing to anything beyond this year.

Presumably the hope is that something better will come along in the big league.

Uh-huh, we’ll see.

“I’m not coming here for a good time. I’m going to take this job extremely seriously,” he said. “Even if it’s not the NHL.”

That’s the spirit.

 

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