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The Life And Times Of Guy Carbonneau

From junior phenom to Habs prospect, from a defensive specialist to a Stanley Cup hoisting Canadiens captain, Guy Carbonneau has had a hockey journey filled with numerous achievements and highlights that have led him to current his position behind the Canadiens bench.

As much as Carbonneau was critiqued during last season - his first as Habs coach - he has done nothing but impress this year while his Canadiens are in a first place battle in the East. There is much speculation that should the Habs continue on their roll and finish first overall in the Eastern Conference that Carbonneau is sure to be in the mix as one of three finalists for the Jack Adams Award as NHL Coach Of The Year.

While much has been written about the player who wore number 21 with such pride for the Canadiens during 12 seasons, less is known about the man inside and the coach who now wears the three piece and the confident smirk behing the bench.

Recently, at, writer John McGourty, a man who seen his fair share of great coaches come and go, had this to say about Carbonneau's cool:

"Carbonneau has that insouciant, "Who else would you have back here?" look, much as Blake did. Sure, here and there you can see the wheels turning with Carbonneau, but more often, there's the "everything's fine" aura that Blake had, the looking at the scoreboard while he scolds a player – which player, we wonder? The hand that crosses the mouth so the camera doesn't pick up what he's saying. The indecipherable signal to match lines rather than roll them."

Last Tuesday was Carbonneau's 48th birthday and I was doing research for a piece on him when I came upon what is likely the most impressive site I've ever seen dedicated to a member of the Montreal Canadiens alumni.

Launched in July of 1998, almost a decade ago, the project began by fan and webmaster Diane Lau is absolutely huge in scope as it chronicles Carbonneau's playing days with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in 1976, throught his NHL glories, up to his present standing as the Canadiens coach.

It is is NOT an "official" or "authorized" site, but the author does "have Guy’s permission to create and maintain these pages. However, I must make clear that if left to his own devices, the last thing Carbo would do is authorize a web site singing his praises—it is more out of kindness to me that he allows this celebration of his career to exist. Guy's humility is just another reason to admire this man who has so many reasons to be proud."

The tribute to Guy Carbonneau is an extremely well structured site whose core is season by season recaps of every year of the players career ranging from 1976 until his retirement in 2000.

In the main section of the site entitled "Retro Carbonneau", fans can choose to look up his days as a Chicoutimi Sagueneen before he was drafted by the Canadiens.

There are separate entries for his two seasons with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, all twelve of his Canadiens years, his one season in St. Louis, and his final five seasons as a member of the Dallas Stars.

In addition to these 24 seasonal sections, there are 7 more essay type pages that the author describes as favorites. They detail other areas of Carbonneau life and career with very intimate detail, and even includes an interview with the player's brother Denis.

They are:

Darkest Before Dawn: The Webmaster Meets Guy - March 5, 2000

"On March 5, 2000, as I watched the Stars play the Red Wings on ESPN, I eagerly anticipated my annual visit to Dallas, only 17 days away.

Midway through the second period, Guy Carbonneau skated off the screen, and somewhere off camera he got his hand caught in Kirk Maltby’s jersey. The jersey snag fractured Carbo’s wrist and likewise my dream of seeing him play in Dallas. I struggled with despair, wondering if I might never see him play with my own eyes again."

330 Days Later; Reunion In Kanata - February 22, 2001

"Here I am, an American tourist sitting in the 300 level of the Corel Centre, watching the away team take to the bench. The away team is the Montreal Canadiens. I traveled 800 miles to see this: Not the players in bleu, blanc et rouge, but the raven haired man in the headset who stands behind them. Assistant Coach Guy Carbonneau."

Life Is Change, But Pride Is Forever

"Guy Carbonneau sits, alone, in the dressing room of the Montreal Forum. It’s summer, hockey won’t begin again for two months. In fact, when hockey begins again for the Canadiens, it will be without him. Because Carbo has just received astonishing news: he has been traded to the St. Louis Blues. After 12 years with the organization, the captain of the Canadiens is dispatched from Montreal. He can’t believe it...but he will never again enter this room to dress with his teammates. Thinking of his friends, with whom a year ago he won the Stanley Cup, Guy weeps. He stands up, and on the blackboard he writes these words: "Salut, tout le monde, I love you all."

Carbonneau At Ice Level - December 23, 1999

"And so the warmup goes…a simple practice, a routine which must seem endless over the two decades. He has to go now…and with a final circle he flies away to that room I will never see…the room that is the chamber where he switches back and forth from being someone like me to being the miracle I have just witnessed. Happily, he won’t be shedding his wings quite yet. I return to my seat to await the next appearance…and I’m still smiling."

Collecting Carbonneau

"I’ve never talked about collecting Carbonneau stuff until now, because although of course I do it, there’s still something about collecting that strikes me as embarrassing.

Although I realize quite a few NHL players themselves collect their own and other player’s stuff, when people like me do it, it’s different.

It feels kind of geeky and faintly neurotic, but we do it anyway because, well, we’re sort of obsessed. But what collector hasn’t had the nightmare fantasy of his favorite player miraculously showing up for a visit, and discovering all the stuff on display and fleeing in horror? At any rate, I will now set my pride aside and address this actually pretty interesting topic."

Coming Back To You: Our Farewell Tribute For Guy's Retirement

"After 19 seasons in the NHL, exactly a quarter century of full time competitive hockey, and at the end of his best season in six years, #21 is gone for good. The stat sheets can be added up now, final averages determined, records closed. Guy’s Cup rings earned as a player will always be three. We can say now that when he waved to the fans in Reunion Arena the night of June 10, 2000, we saw him say goodbye to life on the ice. The story is complete, we know how it ended, 23 marvelous playoff games that came a goal and a game shy of another Stanley Cup."

Denis Carbonneau: The Short History Of My Brother Guy - December 30, 1995

"Guy Carbonneau is not the type to look for unanimity, as he reiterated to me last summer. "Probably half the Canadiens fans are happy to see me go, and the rest disagree." As for me, I always appreciated Carbo. Quickly I perceived beneath a certain coolness—attributable to natural shyness and reserve—profound sincerity and honesty. I could confirm this again, in visiting him this summer, merely from the way he behaves with his daughters. Always present without being pushy, now to play, now to express his fatherly authority with gentleness."

Inside the pages of these sections, there are also "obscure facts" links that reveal the pages listed below.

The Career That Almost Wasn't

"Guy, refusing to quit hockey, consulted another doctor in Montreal (Ted Percy) who operated on both his shoulders, saving his career."

Two Kinds Of Elimination

"Three things comfort me as I contemplate the possibility of Guy’s imminent departure from the game. First, it will be his own choice, and he has earned that right many times over. Second, I have no doubt that he will continue to do magic and touch the lives of others through whatever he chooses to do next. And one last thing comforts me: I’m still saying Dallas in seven. Which will mean at least four more nights of Carbonneau hockey."

The Sagueneens Retire Guy's Number - Progrès-Dimanche, August 31,1980

"In four years among the ranks of that Saguenéen team, Guy Carbonneau accumulated no fewer than 435 points, whereas the former record was 388 points and belonged to Sylvain Locas."

Carbonneau On The Habs Snit List - by Glenn Cole for The Hockey News, January 28, 1983

"Talented Guy Carbonneau, who did his two years service in the minors with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, was a little unhappy with the ice time he was getting from coach Bob Berry in a recent 8-4 victory over the Hartford Whalers. After playing semi-regularly for the first two periods, much of it in a penalty-killing role, Carbonneau found himself riding the pines along with linemates Chris Nilan and Steve Shutt through much of the final 20 minutes."

Our Own Carbo Appears On A Magazine Cover - May 1991

The Nose

"Carbo even showed up for a post game interview. His nose as wide as a boxing glove, little red splatters on his sweater, he appeared calm, cool and collected, like nothing took place. He told reporters something like, "Oh well, I can have my nose fixed, no problems."

Carbonneau Plays Young At Heart by Jennifer Floyd, Fort Worth Star-Telegram January 15, 2000

"Maybe it's an indictment on the Stars that their best forward this season has been a 39-year-old center who occasionally loses feeling in his hands. Then again, maybe it's just that Guy Carbonneau isn't your average 39-year-old center. "A fountain of youth," Stars forward Mike Keane likes to call him."

Guy Talks About A Career In Broadcasting Excerpted from "Broadcasting’s Best" by Bill Howard, 1997-98 Dallas Stars Official Game Program

"Guy Carbonneau has been a between-periods analyst for Montreal’s French broadcasts during two Stanley Cup finals (1987, 1997). Predicting a topic for his segment proved as hard as breaking the neutral zone trap, but being the well-rounded player that made him a Montreal legend, he has learned to adjust."

Carbo's Hide by Michel Blanchard for La Presse, January 20, 2001

"What an insane story. When my wife saw my photograph in one of the newspapers, she said to me, what did you do? But I hadn’t done anything. We were at Rosemère, a private golf club, and three times we’d asked a photographer to stop taking pictures. With the last hole about 250 yards off, I see a man with what seems to be a camera in his hand. I ask him to stop by giving him the finger. The cameraman was a photographer and his apparatus was equipped with a powerful telephoto lens. My gesture was interpreted to be my giving the finger to the fans of the Canadiens, which was completely untrue. I had a problem with the journalist and the photographer of the newspaper in question, but not with anyone else. An hour beforehand, Patrick Roy had ended an interview because the journalist, with his third question, had not heeded instructions not to speak to him about our elimination. Great, two months later I was traded to the Blues…"

Our Choice Was More Complicated Than Expected by Guy Carbonneau with Jean Bouchardfor 7 Jours, September 20, 2000

"The return of Guy Carbonneau to Montreal marks an important turning point in his life. At 40, he already has to deal with the idea of one of his daughters no longer living under the family roof. If you know the strength of the ties between Line, his wife, and their two daughters, Anne-Marie and Kristina, and him, you can easily imagine the heartbreak he is going through."

Guy Had A Half An Hour To Decide by Jean Bouchard with Line Boivinfor 7 Jours, December 9, 2000

"When Guy Carbonneau was named assistant coach of the Canadiens last Monday, November 20, his return to the hockey world, behind the players’ bench this time, did not surprise his wife Line. They have been together for over 20 years, and she knows him well. However, she believes this change could have been made a bit later. It’s just that this turn of events took place only a few months after Guy had accepted a position in player development, which would have permitted him more time with his family. Line Boivin laughs at the circumstances. This mature businesswoman is astonished by nothing. She has only two regrets about it: their plans for the holidays are in disarray, and their younger daughter, Kristina, who loves to see her father home more often, will be a little disappointed."

Canadiens Usher In The Carbonneau Era

"I didn't see the point of immediately dropping Guy into boiling water, when we could instead put him in and then warm it up gently," said a prophetic Gainey back on Jan. 14 when he first introduced Carbonneau as his coach-in-waiting."

Carbonneau's current time as Canadiens head coach are captured in over a dozen pieces transcribed from various outlets that are linked to at the base of the opening page.

The entire site is worthy of being "The Book" on Carbonneau. It is filled with rare pictures, some of which you are seeing here, and features entire reproductions of newspaper articles from all era's. it is leterally an on line scrapbook.

Webmaster Lau has won awards for the site and as even been featured on Quebec television. I would highly recommend the site for bookmarking by any true Habs fan and especially anyone wishing to peak inside the head of a coach. I have spent several days wrapped up in it's contents, enjoying reading about Carbonneau's journey from a teenager into one of the highest profiled men in hockey.