Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin says the Canadiens are at “the back of the bus” as a result of where they sit heading into the NHL Entry Draft June 30 in New Jersey.
At least where the first round is concerned.
Bergevin took time out of today’s news conference at the Bell Centre, held to announce Montreal’s role in the 2015 and 2017 World Junior Hockey Championships, to look ahead to the entry draft.
“We’re in a different position than we were in last year, when we had the third pick overall,” said Bergevin.
“When you’re at 25, you’re sitting in the back of the bus. Obviously, we had a good year, which is why we’re so far back. We’re happy being there, but that said, you don’t get the top players as when you have the third overall pick.”
Is there any chance Bergevin will try to get a seat at the “front of the bus?”
“We always try to see if there are seats available,” said the Habs’ GM with a grin.
Bergevin went on to say that defenceman Alexei Emelin is rehabbing in Montreal and is still on schedule for a return from knee surgery sometime in December.
Listen in as Bergevin fielded questions from reporters about the NHL Entry Draft, and today’s World Junior Hockey announcement, which will see Montreal and Toronto play joint hosts to the 2015 and 2017 championships, with the Bell Centre home to the medal round in 2017.
Michael Ryder fans in this town won’t be happy with this latest bit of news.
Ryder’s agent has informed JF Chaumont of the Journal de Montreal that his client is not part of Marc Bergevin’s plans.
No surprise, if you ask me.
After shaking out the cob webs upon his arrival from Dallas, Ryder went on a tear with the Habs after Bergevin acquired him in late February in the deal that sent Erik Cole to the Stars. However, the well ran dry for Ryder when the Canadiens needed him the most: down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Ryder, who is looking at unrestricted free agency this summer, came to town for his second stint as a Hab, as a rental player. So there would be no long-term pain associated with the transaction that sent the underachieving Cole and his fat contract to Dallas. Any way you slice it, Bergevin comes out a winner in this deal. He was able to shed Cole and his unwieldy contract for a player he wasn’t locked into, long-term, in Ryder.
At the same time, is anybody really surprised at Ryder’s performance as a Hab, this time ’round? He’s a guy who can still get you 30 goals in a season. But he’s also a guy who has been streaky, with a capital “S”, throughout his career. As a Hab this season, he had a hot streak, and a cold streak.
Same old, same old, for Michael Ryder. You want to pull your hair out watching him play. Just look at my hairline. Still, Bergevin must now go out and find the potential for those 30 goals elsewhere. The same way the Canadiens needed to replace Andrei Kostitsyn’s 30 goals.
I’m not saying I would have gone out and signed either player. I’m just doing the goal-scoring math.
Trevor Timmins admits there was uncertainty surrounding his future with the Montreal Canadiens after Marc Bergevin was hired to take over as general manager of club during the off season. However Timmins feels Bergevin put that to rest as soon as he came in.
“It’s great to have stability and to move forward with this great franchise, ” said Timmins from the Czech Republic where he has been taking in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
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Yesterday the Canadiens announced they had extended Timmins’ contract as he prepares to go into season number 11 with the organization.
“I left Ottawa to come here to help the team win a Stanley Cup. That goal hasn’t been accomplished yet. I’m looking forward to helping meet that goal.”
Timmins has received rave reviews for the work the Canadiens did going into the June Draft, and the players they came away with: including first-round pick Alex Galchenyuk.
“I just hope all these people are right.,” said Timmins with a chuckle “I’m extremely happy today. If we’re this happy in five years from now, we’ll look back and say that was one heck of a draft.”
Canadiens’ owner Geoff Molson didn’t want to venture too close to the subject of the NHL’s collective bargagining agreement and the talks that are currently underway between the owners and players.
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Molson, on hand for today’s announcement outlining the details of a condo project that will be built at the foot of the Bell Centre in Centennial Plaza, said he understands the nevousness that everyone is probably feeling, “regardless of who you are — owner, player, or fan.”
At the same time, Molson said he doesn’t plan to make any comment on the CBA talks at this point, or at any point.
“It’s a process,” said Molson. “Our comissioner has been through it before. and we have confidence that he will lead the process in the right way.”
With General Manager Marc Bergevin today announcing the signing of Blake Geoffrion to a one-year contract, Molson said the work that the new GM is doing to build a team around him has been very positive.
“I think that Mark has successfully found a combination of future talent in terms of management, as well as experience. He’s a team player and he likes to work with his people. He’s ultimately responsible for alot of deicisons. but he likes to run things by me, which i certainly enjoy participating in.”
Now that he’s back with the Montreal Canadiens, Francis Bouillon hopes he’s here to stay.
The recently re-acquired Habs’ defenceman was putting in a personal appearance at the Port Lewis Marina near Valleyfield, less than a week after signing a one-year contract to return to Montreal after a three-year stint with the Nashville Predators.
“It feels great to be here, like I’m going to play at home again,” said Bouillon. “I was really disappointed to leave Montreal last time. I found a great city in Nashville but I’m so happy to be back.”
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Although he returns with a one-year contract under his belt, Bouillon hopes to continue playing when the season is up, and would like to be able to perhaps finish his career as a member of the Habs.
Bouillon admits his last season as a Hab, 2008-09, was a frustrating one for him.
“I was pretty much injured all that season. I had a groin injury and an abdonimal injury and tried to come back for the playoffs. I think that was a huge mistake because I hurt myself again. But now I’m looking forward.”
Bouillon, hugely popular with the fans during his earlier stint with the Canadiens, said Michel Therrien is the main reason why he elected to return to Montreal after the Predators informed him he was no longer in their plans.
“He helped me a lot in my professional career. We won a Memorial Cup together and I played for him in the American Hockey League, as well as in the NHL. He’s a great coach. That’s the main point why I signed in Montreal.
Bouillon met with GM Marc Bergevin last week and is scheduled to meet with Therrien next week, after speaking with the coach after signing with the Habs as an unrestricted free agent.
Only a handful of players remain with the Canadiens when Bouillon left town following the 08-09 season, including Tomas Plekanec, Josh Gorges and Carey Price. Bouillon received a text from Gorges, welcoming him back to Montreal. He also got a phone call from Price.
“Carey left me a message I have to call him back. I’m not the best guy to return a call. But I’ve got to talk to him next week.”
“Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach.”
With those words, Randy Cunneyworth’s fate with the Montreal Canadiens was sealed.
The words were uttered in a statement released Dec. 19, 2011, by team owner Geoff Molson who, mere days after Cunneyworth was named to replace the fired Jacques Martin, felt the need to essentially apologize for the move.
“We would like to thank all of our fans for their understanding,” said Molson in the same statement.
I never could figure out just exactly what Molson meant by that. Just exactly what was it that fans were supposed to understand? That the Canadiens were merely bailing water when they made Cunneyworth INTERIM head coach? Or that this TEAM was bailing water in what would become a completely forgetable season.
Molson went on to say in the aformentioned statment: “Randy Cunneyworth is a qualified and experienced coach who has earned the respect of the players and everyone within the organisation and he was ready to take over the responsibility of head coach.”
Just not on a full-time basis (my words, not Geoff Molson’s).
The writing was on the wall for Randy Cunneyworth. And Marc Bergevin spelled it out in big, block letters when he said, on the day he was introduced as General Manager, that it would be up to the incoming head coach to make the decision on his assistants. Bergevin was merely stating the obvious.
And today, 24 hours after Michel Therrien was introduced as head coach of the Habs, the Canadiens released a statement with the following headline: Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur relieved of their duties as assistant coaches.
The statement read, in part:
“Following my appointment as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, I made the decision of bringing together a new coaching staff. Out of respect for Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur, I felt it was important that I notify them immediately in order for them to start looking for other opportunities without further delay. On behalf of the organization, I would like to thank both of them for their valuable contribution to the team and wish them the very best for the future,” said Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien.
Therrien did the right thing by announcing this move as quickly as he did. Give the new coach credit for not allowing Cunneyworth and Ladouceur to be left twisting in the wind: the way the Canadiens left Cunneyworth to twist in the wind when he was named INTERIM head coach.
Don’t blame Therrien for wanting to bring in his own hand-picked coaching staff.
Blame the Canadiens for putting Randy Cunneyworth in a completely unwinnable situation in the first place.
Through it all, the stoic Cunneyworth took the high road.
As Cunneyworth soldiered on over the final handful of games this season, he did so with his CV tucked in his back pocket.
His answer, at the time, when I asked him if he planned to re-apply for the job he’d held since mid-December:
I never expected anything less from the man.
Karl Dykhuis, who patrolled the blueline for the Montreal Canadiens when Michel Therrien was behind the Habs’ bench for the better part of three seasons, says Terrien was able to instill a sense of confidence on the team.
“We enjoyed going to the rink under Therrien,” said Dykhuis. “He was able to get the guys to bond together. The passion is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Michel Therrien.”
Dykhuis said Therrien isn’t afraid of telling the guys to be physical.
“He understands that part of the game. No teams were going to take it easy against us. Hopefully he’ll bring some toughness to the team. That’s what I saw when I played for him.”
“I think it’s going to be a great decision,” added Dykhuis. “We’ll see how it goes.”
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The Canadiens have announced that Michel Therrien is the team’s new head coach.
He will be re-introduced to the media at a news conference at the club’s practice facility at Brossard this afternoon at 2:30.
It’s the second time around for Therrien in Montreal. He became the 25th head coach in Habs history in November of 2000 and remained on the job until January of 2003. He led the Canadiens to their first playoff appearance in four years when he reached the Eastern Conference semi-final in 2001-02.
Therrien moved over to the Pittsburgh organization and was head coach of the Penguins from 2005-09. He was a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy as coach of the year with the Penguins, and guided them to an appearance in the Cup final in 2007-08, losing to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear.
What I’m about to say comes from my gut.
If you have any questions about what I’m about to say, then I ask that you direct all inquries directly to my gut.
However, I’ll save you the time by saying: my gut isn’t answering questions. What my gut IS saying, however is this:
Michel Therrien will become the next head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
This is the same gut feeling I had when Marc Bergevin was named general manager of the Montreal Canadiens. My colleague, Rick Moffat, and I were having a conversation when Serge Savard and Geoff Molson were busy looking for a new GM. At the time, I told Rick that my gut was saying that Marc Bergevin would get the job.
Now my gut is saying that Michel Therrien will return as head coach of the Habs.
I don’t believe Patrick Roy was ever given serious consideration. I believe that Marc Crawford, was. I don’t believe that Guy Carbonneau was ever seriously on Bergevin’s radar, although Bob Hartley obviously was.
There is nothing scientific about what I’m saying. I’m drawing my conclusions based on my sense of the situation here in Montreal as it relates to the Canadiens’ quest for their next head coach.
And my gut tells me that Michel Therrien will end up being behind the Canadiens’ bench.
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Four weeks into the job as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, everything was coming up roses for Marc Bergevin.
Until today’s announcement that Bob Hartley had taken a the job as head coach of the Calgary Flames.
If you believe everything you read on Twitter, Hartley was destined to take over as bench boss of the Habs. Mind you, we were hearing the very same thing about Patrick Roy up until just a few short weeks ago, when he seemed to fall off the Twitter radar.
But I digress.
Hartley was going to be “the one.”
Well, he’s not. Not in Montreal, at least.
The optics of today’s developments are not good for Marc Bergevin, through no fault of his own. Bergevin, first in Shawinigan during the Memorial Cup, and then, just yesterday, at the NHL GM’s meetings in New York, made it clear that he was in no rush to name a new head coach. He said the move could come quickly, or it could take awhile. Yesterday he stated the obvious when he said there would be no annnouncement coming from the Canadiens this week.
In fact, Bergevin might not have a head coach with him at the draft table when it comes time for the Canadiens to make their picks next month in Pittsburgh.
So, basically, Bergevin has said a whole lot of nothing about the team’s vacant coaching position over the last week or so — because there hasn’t been anything to say.
You can’t fault the guy for that.
But Habs fans who were hoping to see Bob Hartley behind the Montreal bench are going to equate Bergevin’s decision-making process as “waffling.” They are going to see this as Bergevin’s inability to land the big coaching fish in what is a very small coaching pond for the Canadiens. They are going to accuse Bergevin of being asleep at the switch.
Was he? I don’t know. I have no idea how close Bob Hartley might have been to becoming the next head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. In my view, only two people know the answer to that question: Bob Hartley, and Marc Bergevin. And, at the news conference held today in Calgary to introduce their new head coach, Hartley acknowledged that although the Canadiens had shown an interest in his sevices, he called Bergevin to tell him that he would be joining the Flames.
So while Marc Bergevin was wowing them with his initial front-office signings of Bobby Kinsella as a U.S. scout, Rick Dudley as assistant GM, and Scott Mellanby as Director of Player Personnel, he still hasn’t given Canadiens fans what they’ve been lusting for.
A new head coach.
Welcome to Montreal, Marc.
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