Canadiens Interim Head Coach St. Louis in for Rough Media Ride

Haven’t you heard? Apparently, the honeymoon between the Montreal Canadiens and interim head coach Martin St. Louis is over. That’s the story at least one tweet sent out by television channel Reseau des sports (RDS) is peddling anyway.

Hopefully no one buys what it’s selling, though. After all, the “reporting” in the tweet (if you can call an anonymous tweet by a show “reporting”) was out of context, lazy and just bad in general, suggesting the Habs under St. Louis and ex-head coach Dominique Ducharme are playing at the same level, over the two coaches’ last 14 games.

Martin St. Louis vs. Dominique Ducharme

If you want to count the ways in which the tweet was horrible:

  • St. Louis actually has two more points than Ducharme over their respective last 14 games, making the whole argument kind of moot.
  • The tweet fails to mention how the Canadiens are a weaker team on paper following the trade deadline, with players like Ben Chiarot and Artturi Lehkonen having been dealt.
  • It also fails to mention that, over Ducharme’s last 14 games, the Canadiens got outscored 70-33. Over St. Louis’? 59-37. That’s literally a difference of over a goal per game.

That’s a lot of wrong to fit into the tweet’s 108 characters. You kind of have to be willfully trying to misrepresent the situation in such an instance, because you have so much space left to use up (relatively speaking of course).

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Granted, it’s not like the Canadiens are getting results under St. Louis right now. That can’t be denied, with the Habs having lost six in a row. However, winning was never the point once it became clear the Habs weren’t making the playoffs.

Martin St. Louis Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Martin St. Louis – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Even if the Canadiens were just eliminated from contention, that moment arguably came less than a month into the season, as the Habs were putting together literally one of the worst starts in franchise history (and ultimately one of the worst seasons altogether). All under Ducharme.

More Context to St. Louis’ Struggles

True, the point of the tweet seems to have been to argue that, while St. Louis started off well behind the bench, the team’s performance has waned in recent weeks. However, in so doing, it cherry-picks a fairly random stretch of games, failing to take into account the fact that the Canadiens averted disaster with the coaching change.

Thanks to St. Louis, the Habs are in no danger of putting together the worst season in team history. They also won five in a row at one point, when under Ducharme they couldn’t so much as win two, literally. All that and the Canadiens are still in the running for a No. 1 overall pick, which should help immensely with the rebuild. These are arguably all positives.

Where’s all that in the tweet?

Dominique Ducharme Luke Richardson Montreal Canadiens
Ex-Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme (and current-assistant coach Luke Richardson) – (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fair enough, it’s kind of impossible to fit it all under the character limit, but there’s also an alternative: Don’t send the tweet in the first place, because it reflects badly on you. Hell, it reflects badly on the local media in general. This is in large part why the Canadiens have a hard time attracting talent, even local talent.

Related: The Myth of the Canadiens Hometown Discount

After all, it’s not like RDS is some random blog. It’s the sister station of The Sports Network (TSN) and is owned by Bell Media. RDS also has the rights to broadcast the majority of regular-season Canadiens games. So, for all intents and purposes, they’re in bed with the Habs. They just must be in the middle of a fight or something?

In RDS’ defense here, they do have a responsibility to report the facts. So, in at least one way, they deserve credit for not serving as a mouthpiece of the team. Also, no one’s perfect, and it is just one tweet and a fairly innocuous one at that, but it points to a larger issue, an inherent inability to stay unbiased (one way or another).

Maybe St. Louis needs to be better. Fine. But so does the media, and this tweet is just one example of why St. Louis, who could theoretically part ways with the team after this season, may decide it’s not worth the trouble. General manager Kent Hughes brought him aboard on an interim basis to help enact a culture change after the team was regularly getting blown out under Ducharme. It worked. Why is he getting flak? Because the team, which is really bad and literally has no hope for a playoff spot, is losing more and more, which will help it to secure a higher draft pick? Huh?

St. Louis Has Done His Job… Well

Objectively speaking, St. Louis has done his job. So well in fact that Hughes has gone on record saying he’d like to keep him on into the long term. That means it’s effectively St. Louis’ call as to whether or not he stays, and, while recent reports indicate he will, nothing is final yet.

Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens GM
Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes – (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

It’s highly unlikely a single unfair tweet derails the relationship, but it is an indication of what St. Louis is in for if this marriage goes the distance. It doesn’t mean the media has to pull their punches, but they should pick their spots better for when a coach (or player) actually deserves to be criticized.

Realistically speaking, a playoff spot playing in the Atlantic Division was always going to be a pipedream. With all the injuries (and retirements), this team is also bad. No coach, including Ducharme, was going to change that. Under St. Louis at least, the effort level is there consistently enough for fans to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

St. Louis is also a native son, who speaks the language as fluently as the French media can realistically hope for in a head coach. On top of that, he’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He technically may not be the most qualified candidate to fill the coaching position, but, for where the team was at the time of the coaching change, he’s proven his worth as the right man for the job, even if only because the Habs are watchable again, even when they lose.

You’d just think that would be a notion RDS would be able to get behind.