…..It seems inevitable Rick Dudley will join the Canadiens front office. The only discussion is the timing: that is will he arrive before or after the NHL draft. The question is, “Why would Dudley make what, on the surface, is a lateral move, in the process abandoning the NHL’s richest franchise (and admitedly most inept) for Montreal with all of the attendant craziness.
Scratch the surface and it’s possible to see Dudley’s thinking and his priorities. First, in Toronto he was designated as an assistant general manager, but his influence was muted by the fact that he was well down the team heirarchy behind Brian Burke, and vice presidents Dave Nonis and Dave Poulin. In Montreal he will be a very close number two to Marc Bergevin whom Dudley mentored in Chicago. It’s well known Dudley is one of the best judges of talent in the game, so singleminded about the subject that he appears distracted when it comes to social interaction; sort of a Pierrre Gauthier sans media phobia. Despite holding down NHL GM positions four times, he has been happier sitting in a cold hockey barn in rural Saskatchewan looking for undiscovered talent than sitting in an NHL front office. Marc Bergevin understands and will give him the opportunity and the latitude. The Canadiens will be better for it.
…….Another foregone conclusion is Scott Gomez’ demotion to the American Hockey League in September. He will not become the highest priced player to ever play in the American Hockey league however. That dubious honour remains with defenseman Wade Redden who played for the AHL’s Connecticut Whale at 6.5 million for each of the last two years. (He has two years remaining in his six year 39 million dollar deal at 5-million per) If the Canadiens elect to send Gomez to Hamilton, he will earn 5.5 million and then 4.5 million to wrap up his contract.
…….Interesting to note that Rangers GM Glen Sather signed off on three of the worst contracts in NHL history. Along with Gomez, there was Redden and Chris Drury who produced little for his 35 million dollar contract and eventually was bought out. Fourth time seems to be a charm however for Sather, with the signing of Brad Richards. 9 years at sixty million front loaded at 12 million this year and next.
…….Marc Bergevin is taking his time making the selection of his head coach for two reasons. The team doesn’t really require someone in place before the team’s first of two summer on-ice development camps in early July. Beyond that, he probably would want to wait until the full array of available coaching talent is on the table. Who knows if the Alain Vigneault, Claude Julien and Joel Quenneville votes-of-confidence will stick? After that there are the usual suspects including that gaggle of serially unemployed and for the most part unemployable coaches that turn up regularly on L’Antichambre in addition to Marc Crawford, Bob Hartley and Patrick Roy. It’s also fun to speculate on the long shot candidates.
Hamilton coach Clement Jodoin did a good job under difficult circumstances in his first year with the Bulldogs. He was a Canadiens assistant for six years and two time QMJHL Coach of the year. Gerard Gallant was coach of the Memorial Cup Champion Saint John Sea Dogs, a team that included Habs first round draft pick Nathan Beaulieu. He was born in New Brunswick but grew up in PEI meaning his French is limited. His NHL background includes head coach and assistant coach of the Columbus Bluejackets. Pascal Vincent coached the Montreal Juniors for three years before being passed over for the Hamilton Bulldogs job by Pierre Gauthier. He subsequently joined the Winnipeg Jets as assistant coach last season. Gatineau coach Benoit Groulx had a couple of years of pro head coaching experience with Rochester of the AHL. And if you want another Chicago connection, how about Denis Savard? And Larry Robinson? Probably not, considering his hatred of the PR pressures that go with the head coaching job.
…..Bob Gainey, his Montreal hockey reputation in tatters, is resurfacing as a “consultant” for the Dallas Stars. Gainey was general manager of the Stars when they won the 1999 Stanley Cup after previously coaching the team when they were known as the Minnesota North Stars. From Wednesday’s Dallas Morning News
`I do see it in a similar way to what I was doing with the Canadiens over the last two years,” said Gainey, who was working a great deal in development with the team’s AHL affiliate and also consulting with GM Pierre Gauthier. “My scope will probably be broader with the Stars, but I see it as observing and familiarizing myself with the players and then hopefully offering some guidance that maybe others haven’t seen. I would like to be able to say, `I see this in a player,’ or `Maybe we could shape this player in this direction.’ Those are areas where I believe I can help.”
Gainey’s legacy with the Canadiens will not be remembered fondly. As general manager he authored one of the worst trades in team history in acquiring the Gomez contract in return for a potential all-star defenseman Ryan McDonagh. And in his so-called consulting role, unless Pierre Gauthier completely ignored his advice, almost every move the franchise made last season from the firing of coaches Perry Pearn and Jacques Martin down to the trades for Tomas Kaberle and Rene Bourque, hurt the team more than helped.
Gainey told the Morning News that he expects to maintain a Montreal residence and commute to Dallas.
…..Can’t imagine that Larry Robinson, with his Devils about to enter the Eastern Final, likes the distraction that his agent Donny Cape created when he spoke to TVA Sports Wednesday. Cape, who has been known to make unauthorized, embarassing and badly timed comments about his client in the past, said, “Larry would like to return to Montreal because the right people are in place, the conditions are good and because it is the right job for him.” That said, there was a rumour, perhaps also started by Cape, that Robinson inquired two years ago about an Canadiens assistant coaching job and, the story goes, Bob Gainey never returned his call. Hard to believe considering the Robinson/Gainey Stanley Cup connections. I guess it’s a matter of who and what you want to believe. Anyway, if Larry makes a call this time, somebody will assuredly return it.