Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

Habs hiring binge continues

Patrice Brisebois, Martin Lapointe, Gerrard Gallant. It never ends in Montreal. If compiling a slew of former NHLers to work for a club is how to win the Stanley Cup, the Habs are close to surpassing the Leafs for major contention. You know a front office has grown exponentially when two guys have been replaced by, say, eight.

So the hirings: not bad. Good names. I’m a bit saddened that Merc Bergevin welcomed Martin Lapointe into the fold. After all, he declined offers to play in Montreal multiple times. If he wouldn’t play for the Habs, why should he have the privilege of working there? Some of this smacks of Bergevin surrounding himself with friends. Friends are often yes men. That leads to bad things, like trades for Scott Gomez. Something to pay attention to as the summer progresses.

Gallant, however: Good hire. Memorial Cup winning coach. Former head coach experience in the NHL. Tough, gritty, smart player. I like it. The other assistant? My bet is that it’s Clement Jodoin, who has been replaced in Hamilton by Sylvain Lefebvre, but I’d still like to see Carbonneau behind the Habs bench again. A Carbo-Gallant tandem supporting Michel Therrien would look really good.

Otherwise, all quiet in Habs land. The draft is coming up, as well all know. Will they deal the #3? Who will they pick? My bet is they keep the pick, and draft Alex Galchenyuk. I’d be very happy with the big centre, however, I could also see the Habs dealing down to get another asset, and nabbing a defenceman like Matthew Dumba. Also not a bad move to consider.

One week until things get much more exciting.

Oh, and in other Habs news, Alex Kovalev wants to come back, ideally with Montreal. Could Kovalev make a good third line addition as a power play specialist? Or would he be a better assistant coach of floating?

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Habs fire the Randys

As you know by now. Randy Cunneyworth and Ladoceur have moved on from the Habs. You also know that I’m not incredibly pleased with the hiring of Therrien. One thing would make me happy however:

Guy Carbonneau as assistant coach.

Carbonneau was unjustly fired there years ago. He’s a players coach and had a great rapport. Should the Canadiens hire Carbo, I think they’re making a great move. Would he take the job? That I don’t know. But in an ideal world, Carbonneau and Larry Robinson would make a heck of a tandem supporting Michel Therrien.

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Habs go back to the future, hire Mike Therrien

And with a sweeping reach back to 2001-02, when Jose Theodore was great, Saku Koivu was a hero (still is), and Donald Audette was a playoff luminary, Marc Bergevin shocked no one and named Michel Therrien head coach of the Montreal Canadiens (again).

Let’s just get this out of the way: yes, he shouldn’t have had Bill Lindsay on the ice, and yes, Yanic Perreault should have taken the face-off. He hasn’t coached since he was in Pittsburgh, and he hasn’t won anything at the NHL level. They’re talking points, but we’ve heard them a lot today. Let’s move on.

Now, what sort of coach will Therrien be? A defensive, gritty, hard-nosed leader who demands accountability. What will that mean for Montreal? Perhaps a lot more of the Jacques Martin hockey that was loathed, but with a touch of physical play and a lot more emotion. Therrien is known as a short-tempered bench boss, someone who let’s the referees know when they’ve made a mistake, and let’s his players know when they’ve crossed him.

Is that what Montreal needs? I don’t think it necessarily is - but I also think that just about anything is an improvement on the previous regime, so I’m willing to give Bergevin a pass here.

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Canadiens coaching decisions coming soon?

So Hartley is out, and now word from RDS that Patrick Roy is no longer in the running to be coach of the Montreal Canadiens:

RDS

RDS (English Translation): Roy out of the race

That leaves Michel Therrien and Marc Crawford as the favourites, with whispers of Guy Carbonneau and a few others being candidates as well.

I’d have to think Therrien is the favourite, given his background. However, Crawford, or Carbonneau for that matter, would also be a solid choice. That said, don’t be surprised if Marc Bergevin throws a curveball and a name comes out of nowhere. Denis Savard, perhaps?

Bergevin clearly has a clear idea of where he wants to take the Canadiens, and he’ll want his own guy in there from the get go. As such, this could take a few more weeks, as the new Habs management team plots their course. If I had to guess, I’d suggest a coach will be in place for the draft. As to who it will be - your guess is as good as mine.

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Quick Habs notes

As you probably know by now, the Canadiens named Scott Mellanby Director of Player Personnel earlier today, as GM Marc Bergevin begins to build his staff.

Meanwhile, more speculation that Bob Hartley is the front runner for the Habs head coaching job, discussed today in the Montreal Gazette and on the radio. However, of note, Hartley is a regular on RDS, and I have yet to hear one of his colleagues mention the strength of his candidacy. Hartley would be a solid choice, being a Stanley Cup winner, French speaker and strong media personality. That said, he’s not my favourite - I like Guy Carbonneau taking the reins again - but Hartley would be a good choice nonetheless.

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Rick Dudley to Habs

Breaking news via the Canadiens official Twitter account: Rick Dudley is now assistant GM of the Montreal Canadiens.

I’m on the road the next 3 days (this is via iPhone) but I will have more commentary next week. Until then: great addition, as Dudley is one of the best talent evaluators in the game today.

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PK Subban contract extension coming?

Pure speculation at this point, but Subban tweeted this to followers earlier this evening:

P.K. Subban ‏@PKSubban1
Big announcement coming soon… All my ‪#twitts‬ and ‪#subbaniacs‬ stay tuned…

Subban, and teammate Carey Price, are both restricted free agents this off-season.

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Habs coaching update

From TSN’s Bob McKenzie:

Bob McKenzie ‏ @TSNBobMcKenzie
MTL is in process of touching base with potential head coach candidates incl Michel Therrien, Guy Carbonneau, Marc Crawford, Bob Hartley etc

I still like Carbonneau. He’s got unfinished business in Montreal, and he was a damn good coach. Should never have been fired in the first place.

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Dudley on verge of joining Habs

As expected, Rick Dudley is on the verge of jumping from Toronto to Montreal to assume the Assistant General Manager’s post with his friend, Mark Bergevin.

Darren Dreger ‏ @DarrenDreger
Expect Rick Dudley to be soon named asst gm of the Mtl Canadiens. Marc Bergevin and Leafs gm Brian Burke are in discussions.

Darren Dreger ‏ @DarrenDreger
Dudley’s move is complicated as he’s done extensive work on Draft for Tor. Leafs would prefer his start with Mtl be delayed to after Draft.

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Bergevin’s reign begins: so who’s the coach?

So we’ve got Marc Bergevin. He wasn’t my first choice, but I think he’ll do a solid job. My major concern? Not sure he would have been considered for a GM post anywhere else at this point, and I’d certainly never heard his name mentioned until the Montreal vacancy appeared. No one can deny that language plays a role in Montreal, and I believe it did here to. That said, the Canadiens are in good hands, and I have no doubt Bergevin will surround himself with good people.

My first move if I was in his shoes? I’d be phoning the runner-up, Pierre McGuire, and asking him to be assistant GM. Even Serge Savard commented on the radio yesterday that McGuire probably knows more about players across the NHL than anyone else going today. If that isn’t an endorsement, I don’t know what is. Rick Dudley would be another good addition to the front office. More than anything, I’d like to see some depth at the Bell Centre. Enough of the one man show. The Canadiens are a tradition, a spiritual necessity, and they need to start acting like it again. The press conference yesterday suggests they are, finally, doing that again. Now, let’s see it continue.

Now onto the head coaching vacancy. Derrière le banc. Who’s on the longlist? Who knows. But my best guesses, based on logic, media coverage, and the unemployed:

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com

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