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The Upper Canadien

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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Bergevin new Habs GM

Reports out of Chicago this morning have Marc Bergevin being named the new General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens, after he and Pierre McGuire apparently received final interviews this week. Bergevin, after seven years with the Blackhawks, would be joining the Canadiens for the first time in what has been a long NHL career, both as a player and an executive. Who might Bergevin name as his head coach? Many will note that his last NHL coach was Marc Crawford, a bilingual Stanley Cup winner who has been mentioned more than once as a potential candidate to take over the Habs.

Bergevin New Habs GM (Yahoo Sports)

And this, from Bob McKenzie on Twitter:

Bob McKenzie ‏ @TSNBobMcKenzie
As per reports out of CHI/MTL, Marc Bergevin is new MTL GM. Pierre McGuire was informed by Geoff Molson this a.m. he was runnerup.

Are you happy with Bergevin? He was my second choice, but better him than the old guard that always seems to assume these sorts of situations and bungle them mightily.

Welcome to Montreal Marc Bergevin…as long as the reports out of Chicago are true.

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The Flyers “conspiracy”

Not Habs related, but I had to share this link. Anyone who ever suggests bloggers do not have a place in the professional sports conversation, please read this article and realize that, in fact, if this passes for professional journalism then everyone has a say.

Are hockey writers conspiring against the Flyers?

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Habs GM search rounding the home stretch

Various reports today in numerous media outlets, and it all boils down to this: there are four candidates remaining. Or perhaps three. Marc Bergevin, Pierre McGuire, Julien Brisebois and Francois Giguere appear to be the four finalists for the GM role with the Montreal Canadiens. As of this afternoon, some media report that Francois Giguere is out of the running. It also appears that Claude Loiselle is no longer a candidate.

We’re left with the joker (Bergevin) the media man (McGuire) and the capologist (Brisebois). Each candidate has their own talents that they bring to the role. Bergevin has been training under Scotty Bowman, assisting with Chicago as they build a regular contender and perennial NHL powerhouse. He’s got a reputation as a bit of a joker, and there’s no questioning his pedigree as an NHL player for two decades who knows the game well.

McGuire is also a student of the Bowman school, having been Bowman’s assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bowman is on the record as endorsing McGuire, and also suggesting that his rival for the job (Bergevin) still has some learning to do. McGuire has a rolodex the size of an encyclopedia, but he’s been out of hockey management for 15 years. Now, there’s a good reason why - he’s been making big bucks as an NHL analyst - but is he too far removed to be an effective manager?

Brisebois comes with baggage, as the former assistant to GM Bob Gainey. However, he’s the youngest candidate (at 35), trained as a lawyer and apparently a whiz with the salary cap. His hiring would be similar to the Boston Red Sox hiring of Theo Epstein a decade ago, and that returned Boston to contender status. Could Brisebois do the same for the Habs?

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Habs GM search: quick thoughts on Jim Nill

As you have no doubt heard by now, Detroit Red Wings Assistant General Manager Jim Nill declined the Canadiens GM job after multiple meetings and conversations with Geoff Molson. Apparently, these conversations began almost immediately after Pierre Gauthier’s dismissal.

Nill would have been a great GM, and I suspect he will be, one day, somewhere else. However, his wife is quite ill, and clearly it would not be the appropriate time for him him make the jump. That said, he had kind words for the Canadiens and the organizations approach to finding a replacement for Gauthier.

My thoughts: this is a good sign. Nill was an unpopular suggestion from the start, largely because he is not from Quebec. However, he’s a smart, focused, experienced hockey executive, and anyone in his mould would be a great choice.

So, the search continues, with the regular names surfacing (Brisebois, McGuire, Mackasey, Roy). In the interim, best to Mr. Nill and his wife and she continues her fight.

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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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