I’m sorry. In December, I called for you to be fired when I saw the awful power play. The defensive style drove me nuts. The way you had your defense stay back once you got a lead and let the opposition pepper Tim Thomas with shots was maddening. I oftentimes felt you were lucky that you had Thomas, for if you did not you would have lost many more games.
But there was more to this than Thomas. This was a team effort, and you got your team to become just that, a team. You motivated a player like Nathan Horton, coming over from Florida. Horton had been known to take shifts off, but you kept him on his toes and he became a playoff hero.
You knew when to make the right moves. Moving Brad Marchand up to the second line midway through this year was very smart. There was instant chemestry with him, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. You put in Shawn Thornton in Game 3 when you saw the way Vancouver was playing. But the one move that impressed me most of all was obvious.
Tuukka Rask started game one against Phoenix. He did not look sharp. Thomas started the next game and played stellar. It began to become clear that Thomas was playing his mind out, and you stuck with him. Knowing your style, I was afraid you would stick with Rask. At too many points the previous season you pulled Thomas in favor of the rookie. I feared you would give Rask too much time.
And then Thomas went on that slight slump, but you stuck with him. You knew what he could do, and you stuck with the 2009 Vezina winner. If you had maybe been a little more stubborn and used Rask early on, this may never have happened. Thomas may never have got on the roll, and may never had held the Conn Smythe over his head.
So Claude, I would like to apologize my constant bashing of you. You were right, and everyone else was wrong.