Amidst seven games, a ton of stories and some noteworthy highlights on Thursday, nothing stood out quite like the Montreal Canadiens handing general manager Pierre Gauthier his walking papers (along with former GM Bob Gainey) earlier in the day.

By now, you’ve probably already read enough about Gauthier and Gainey’s failures and why they deserved to be relieved of their duties, so I won’t take up too much of your time on the matter.

I’ll simply tell you this, and give Habs fans some time to recuperate after they vomit violently: Thanks to Gainey and Gauthier, the Habs are on track to pay the underwhelming and aging combination of Scott Gomez, Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta, Erik Cole, Rene Bourque, Andrei Markov, Tomas Kaberle and Josh Gorges a combined $40 million…in the 2013-2014 season.

If that’s not grounds for dismissal in the Cap Era, then for the love of the Hockey Gods, I don’t know what is.

Here are your morning links:

  • Randy Cunneyworth is on thin ice in Montreal after Thursday’s developments (The Canadian Press). If Cunneyworth still has a job in Montreal two weeks after the season ends, I’ll be absolutely shocked.
  • Now they’ve really done it – Fans at the ACC chant “Let’s Go Blue Jays?!” (theScore.com) While short term losing isn’t tolerated in Montreal, perennial losing looks to be on thin ice in Toronto. “This is not going to get any more fun for the Leaf players before the end of the season.” That’s for sure, I’m looking forward to the surgical extraction of my wisdom teeth next month more than I am another Leafs game.
  • Maple Leafs players talk about homophobia in sports (outsports.com)
  • Jason Chimera’s hit on Adam McQuaid last night was reckless (Big Bad Blog). You can watch the video here, and I assume you’ll draw the same conclusion.
  • A letter to Dan Bylsma about the suddenly slumping Penguins after another loss to the Islanders (thehockeywriters.com)
  • The Penguins’ stumbles against the Islanders give the Rangers room, and allow the Flyers to creep back into a race (The Sporting News). At the end of the day, if the Pens can head into the playoffs healthy, will it really matter what seed they entered with? I think not.
  • Admit it, you were holding your breath when this happened (theScore.com). Luckily for everyone, Crosby returned to the game shortly after.
  • Speaking of head injuries, Keith Ballard has been down that road before (The Province).
  • The Stars have their playoff destiny in their own hands (The Globe and Mail).
  • Would 60 goals put Steven Stamkos in the running for the Hart Trophy? (ESPN). As great a season as Stamkos is having – and you can make a significant argument that he’s the best player in hockey when Crosby is out – it would just be so hard to give him the Hart when his team hasn’t really been in serious playoff contention at all this season.
  • Have you seen NHL.com’s “Drive to the Playoffs” page? It’s pretty awesome and a great guide to follow as we close in on the final week of the regular season. The conclusions to these races should be fantastic.