We will never know how much real interest Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin had in pursuing Bob Hartley. He certainly wasn’t in any hurry in his dealings with him, which would indicate he either had doubts or thought he could do better somewhere else. According to Hartley there was a second interview scheduled for this week so he felt he was still in the Montreal picture, at least in his own mind.
We’re getting to the point where the selection of the Canadiens head coach is going to come down to the “last man standing”? Alain Vigneault and Joel Quenneville were never available and Hartley now has taken his act to Calgary and we are left with is a very unattractive collection of candidates. Do we really want to re-live Michel Therrien’s blunder filled Canadiens tenure or Guy Carbonneau’s lack of preparedness and understanding of today’s game. That leaves Marc Crawford who brings with him a rather lengthy rap sheet of his own. If it comes to this kind of list, Jacques Martin’s name might as well be thrown in the hat. The Canadiens are going to be paying him for the next year anyway.
Out of desperation, and the strictures of the job description, Bergevin may have no choice but to think outside-the-box. Outside of Patrick Roy, many of the names out of the junior and minor league ranks never really gained serious traction because they lacked NHL experience. (Roy doesn’t have any either). Maybe it’s time to reshuffle the deck. There have been some pretty good coaches who have come straight out of junior hockey to success in the NHL Peter DeBoer is the most recent example.
The first name that comes to mind is Benoit Groulx of the QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques. He is one of the most successful junior coaches in history including a three trips to the Memorial Cup tournament in his first six year stretch with the Olympiques. He was slated to be Team Canada Junior head coach but was hired by then Florida GM Jacques Martin to coach their Rochester farm team in the summer of 2008 replacing Randy Cunneyworth. While Rochester went from regular season loser to winner in two years, he left under something of a cloud if you’re to believe this Rochester blogsite’s account. He’s been back at Gatineau two seasons and according to the Ottawa Citizen, Groulx is telling friends he is “100 percent” certain to return to the Olympiques for their 40th anniversary season. That, obviously could change.
Pascal Vincent was an assistant coach in Winnipeg this year. The Laval native has put in eleven years in the QMJHL, the last three with the defunct Montreal Juniors. Vincent was considered for the Hamilton coaching job before Pierre Gauthier opted for Clement Jodoin. He was a head coach in the “Q” for 12 seasons with the Montreal Juniors and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. With Louis Leblanc on the club, he led the Montreal Juniors to the QMJHL’s second-best record in 2010-2011 at 46-12-10 and was the coach of the year in 2007-08. His career QMJHL head coaching record is 429-313-87.
Bergevin obviously has to take into consideration the fact that it’s a big step from coaching 17 and 18 year olds to handling veteran pros, especially when potential candidates, like Groulx and Vincent never played the game on the professional level. There are others out there including Jodoin in Hamilton, Tampa Bay assistants Martin Raymond and Daniel Lacroix plus Rouyn coach Andre Tourigny.