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An eight-game losing streak should lead to changes, but what are the options?

People are clamouring for a quick fix. Does one exist?

Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

When the Boston Bruins took a 2-1 lead on Sunday night, there weren’t many people expecting to see the Montreal Canadiens end their losing streak. When it went to 3-1, the mood got infinitely more bleak.

Teams that lose eight games in a row, like the Canadiens have, don’t see themselves come away without changes. Of the seven coaches fired mid-season last year and the two fired so far this season, only one — Mike Yeo — did not have a losing streak of more than three games.

When the Canadiens start losing, blame tends to go directly to Marc Bergevin. Firing Bergevin now would be the opposite of a quick fix. There’s not much a new general manager could do right now to significantly change a team’s outlook. In fact, a new general manager likely will take weeks before getting a feel and making any moves. Even that assumes that you manage to find a new non-interim GM in the middle of the season when other NHL teams tend to not let their people leave.

After giving the Canadiens’ general manager the benefit of the doubt to start the season, barring a significant turnaround and a playoff appearance, I don’t see how Bergevin will be back next season. Having said that, making a GM change now — or at any point during the season — is very unlikely.

Claude Julien, for his part, has been part of the Canadiens’ turnaround over the last season and a bit. The style of play he has brought has allowed for players to thrive and the team to have relative success, and improve much faster than many expected. Those expectations are now his curse.

In cases where a team can’t win, the head coach often takes the blame. However, despite having a probable heir apparent on the bench next to him in Dominique Ducharme, I would be surprised to see Julien lose his job. The team has had consistent effort and have not been completely outplayed throughout this stretch. It has come down to lack of execution and focus at times in the defensive zone. Yes, that’s potentially a coaching issue. A head coaching change can have an immediate effect, but it’s not a guarantee, either.

Luke Richardson was brought in to coach the defence and the penalty kill, objectively two of the worst parts of this Canadiens team this season, and especially in this stretch. It may be harsh to blame the coaches for players making mistakes, however, for issues to linger this long, the ability to get the players prepared could fall on the coaching staff.

It’s impossible for those outside of the Canadiens’ room to know exactly what responsibilities fall on which coach. However, whether Richardson, or Kirk Muller, or anyone else is in charge of the defence on the bench, the defensive zone coverages and responsible for the penalty kill, there needs to be significant improvement in those areas.

It could stand to reason that this could be the quickest fix if the team is looking to make a change to its staff. Since they already have four coaches behind the bench, they wouldn’t necessarily have to even bring anyone else in as a replacement.

They say that it’s easier to fire a coach than to trade 23 players. That’s why a significant roster move is also likely not on the table. The Canadiens’ depth is pretty tapped; there’s no one in Laval who can be expected to come up and make a difference. You may be able to tweak some things, and they may put someone on waivers, but again, I’m not sure how big a difference that would make.

The Canadiens can send down some young players like Cale Fleury, or even Jesperi Kotkaniemi (who has been improving of late) to the Laval Rocket. But who would then replace them? It’s not necessarily a move that will improve the Canadiens instantly, which is what people are clamouring for.

Losing is not fun. It’s not fun for the players, it’s not fun for the coaches, it’s not fun for the fans, and it’s not fun for management. It’s definitely not fun for Geoff Molson, either.

Calling for a change is therapeutic in a sense. Seeing changes happen can be cause for optimism. Making a change for the sake of change, though, is not beneficial.

History suggests a move will come. Fans, especially, want to feel as if there are consequences for a losing streak that reaches almost 10% of the season. There's not much to suggest any change will immediately improve the team's fortune, and the options are limited.