MONTREAL, CANADA - OCTOBER 26: Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier addresses the media on the firing of Asstistant Coach Perry Pearn prior to the NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre on October 26, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
I know I'm very late to this subject, but I've never really understood the relationship that General Managers have with their coaches in the NHL. A coaching search should take place in the summer, take real time, require real interviews, and net a guy who's on the same page as the GM as far as the organizational philosophy goes. It should not saddle you with a coach who wants to give ice time to a pylon like Randy Jones. The Brian Burke-Ron Wilson model is a good example - is Wilson at risk of getting fired? It doesn't seem like it, does it? General managers have lengthy tenures and get to show poor results for a long time before they get axed. It should be no different for coaches.
But the Pearn firing is so much more ridiculous than, well, anything I can remember (I have a bad memory for these things.) If the Habs being 3/32 on the PP is the real reason, that's honestly one of the stupidest things any GM has ever come up with. Montreal is #2 in the league in 5v4 shot rate, and #30 in 5v4 shooting percentage. As I've shown before, shot rate predicts future success on the PP; shooting percentage, particularly over the course of 60-odd shots, is meaningless. I don't think a lot of people believed that a brief run of bad luck on the PP was Perry Pearn's fault.
What about the more general second official reason, that the Habs are off to their worst start since hockey got on TV? You'd have to understand very little about how the modern NHL runs to believe that - the Habs were 1-5-2 in regulation in their first 8 games, but two seasons ago, they were 0-5-3 across that same span. In fact, after 18 games, they were 1-10-7 in regulation, with their only win coming over the New York Islanders.
NHL GMs are intense guys and they take short-term winning and losing very personally. But as a GM, you need more than a 7-day or 14-day horizon. Maybe Pierre Gauthier had wanted to fire Pearn for a long time and a brief run of bad luck gave him the pretext for doing it. That still makes no sense - you can part ways even with successful coaches in the summer and get the right guy into the job. Firing a coach eight games into the season guarantees that you won't have the right guy doing the job.