….. In the forty-eight days since Marc Bergevin took on the job of Canadiens general manager he has filled eight administrative positions and the results have been pretty impressive.
……In this world of instant analysis, the danger is to get ahead of oneself. Halfway through the process, my impression was Bergevin was overloading his top level management team; too many cooks as it were with the Canadiens winding up being run by committee. As we near the end of the process it’s clear Bergevin had very well defined hiring goals that weren’t obvious at the outset. Rick Dudley, Scott Mellanby and Larry Carriere will divide up pro scouting, salary cap and the administration of the Hamilton Bulldogs. In a completely separate area, he has hired Martin Lapointe to run player development along with Patrice Brisebois. And, while there will be lingering questions about Michel Therrien, it’s hard to criticize the rest of the coaching staff.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO…..The only two Canadiens executives to hold their same position they held during the dictatorial Pierre Gauthier administration are Larry Carriere and Trevor Timmins. Interesting to note that Bergevin’s only move Bergevin on Timmins department was give him more help with the addition of midwest scout Bobby Kinsella. Otherwise, for obvious reasons, Timmins continues to run his own show.
….Of the seven organizational coaches that started last season with the Canadiens and Buldoogs, four have been fired and Hamilton head coach Clement Jodoin has been promoted to Therrien’s staff. Ron Wilson remains the Bulldogs assistant, now under Sylvain Lefebvre.
UNTOUCHABLE….And Pierre Groulx remains. I’m sure Bergevin considered sweeping out last season;s entire coaching staff but he had to consiider the fallout of firing his goaltending coach. Unlike other coaches who deal with team concepts, the relationship between goaltender and his coach is very much one-on-one. Unlike the meddling style of Groulx’s predecessor Roland Melanson, Groulx has built upon Carey Price’s strengths rather than tear him down and build him over again. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to keep a franchise player happy when he’s facing free agency.
THE FINAL PIECE……There’s one more coaching job to fill and it appears J.J. Daigneault will become the fifth member of Therrien’s staff. Daigneault came out of Dave King’s national and OLympic team programme to play over 800 games in the NHL. He is projected to run the defense.
WINNING CAN BE CONTAGIOUS – For the record, Daigneault would be the fourth former Stanley Cup winner to be added to the staff and the third from the 1993 Canadiens joining Patrice Brisebois and Sylvain Lefebvre. Martin Lapointe was a two time cup winner in Detroit. Bergevin was in the Chicago front office when the Blackhawks won the 2010 Cup.
RECHARGING THE FARM SYSTEM…..The Hamilton Bulldogs will open their home season on October 19th. With the signing of Northeastern University power left winger Steve Quailer the team will have at least eight players out of either the junior or college ranks making their professional hockey debuts. For the record, they are forwards Quailer, Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bournical and Patrick Holland plus defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Morgan Ellis and Greg Pateryn. Also in their lineup will be sophomore pros Joonas Nattinen, Olivier Archambault, Alain Berger, Philippe Lefebvre and Jos Stejskal. Despite stories to the contrary, the farm system seems to be in pretty good shape.
HIGH HOPES ……At the age of 35 Georges Laraque wants to make a comeback. Dave Semenko once told me that Laraque was hockey’s best enforcer. Once he may have been, but the Laraque we saw in Montreal had made the conscious decision to pick and choose his opponents from what he called the “heavyweight” division leaving the Matt Cook’s and Brad Marchand’s for others to deal with. The Canadiens “fired” him and subsequently spent three years paying off his bought-out contract while Ryan White, Travis Moen and most-recently Brad Staubitz did a better job of protecting teammates.
KHL BOUND?…..There’s little doubt how the Nashville Predators feel about Andrei Kostitsyn. This from Nashville GM David Poile. “I truly believe we had as good a chance as we’ve ever had to win in the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. Having said that, Andrei Kostitsyn is not going to be back and now (Alexander Radulov) is not going to be back.”