The Montreal Canadiens promised more transparency and that’s what they’ve been doing. While it will never be enough for some, the entire team, from team General Manager, head coach to the players, everyone seems to be more available and open. There will always be topics on which they cannot talk about, either due to league rules, team policies or to not divulge their detailed plans. Anyone without an agenda against them will be able to see that they have been more front and centre. Just this week, we have seen about four or five exclusive interviews with different members of the media.
More recently, Chantal Machabée or RDS, a very well respected reporter in Montreal, was given the privilege of interviewing Canadiens’ owner and President Geoff Molson and she did a fantastic job once again. Since the interview was solely in French, I decided to translate some of the key points, some of the answers provided by Molson, for your reading pleasure.
Molson explained, as did team GM Marc Bergevin before him, that the two eight-game losing streaks is what killed the team last year. He tells Chantal that in spite of it, firing Bergevin, or panicking never crossed his mind. Nothing good can come out of panic moves in men in his position. He added that they had a plan 2-3 years ago and in spite of some disgruntled people’s impatience, he recognizes that it will take time. And he fully intends on giving Bergevin all the time necessary. After all, a reset isn’t done overnight as it takes young players time to develop.
Molson did expand by saying that while there was still work to do, he loved the way the team played together during the return to play. Beating Pittsburgh and losing to Philadelphia is spite of being the better team, as well as the performances by both the veterans and the contribution of the young guys was encouraging. He likes the direction the Habs are going.
Gallagher and Danault
Asked specifically about Brendan Gallagher and his contract extension, he reiterated what Bergevin had said already. Molson said that Gally works extremely hard every shift, he’s a leader on this team, he scores goals. So yes, he fully support Bergevin in wanting to keep him in Montreal.
Keeping on specific players, the same goes for Phillip Danault. He says knowing him and his wife very well. It is Bergevin who wanted him from Chicago and Phil has developed into an amazing and honest two-way player. Folks, stop the rumour mill, Danault is staying in Montreal.
Leaders and team needs
Chantal asked Mr. Molson about a few of his leaders being vocal about the team’s needs in the off season. He had this to say:
Yes, we do listen to players when the speak up. Rest assured that when guys like Jeff Petry, Shea Weber or Carey Price say something publicly, they told us the same thing as well. We all know our needs.and we’ll do our very best to address those needs. Marc has a very strong relationship with the leaders on this team.
I absolutely love Chantal’s question when she states and asked, paraphrasing from Bergevin:
The Canadiens need a big scorer. Marc says that he doesn’t want to give up Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and other good young players. He also says that he doesn’t want to touch the core like Weber, Petry, Price, Gallagher. He has repeated that the UFA period is when the biggest mistakes are made and he’s not a fan of it. Aren’t the possibilities narrowing?
Molson’s answer was, for the most part, vague but when push came to shove, he had this to say:
We have players, some names in our target but we’re not allowed to talk about them, due to tampering rules in the NHL. But remember that if we target some players, there are 30 other teams targeting the same players too.
The Guy Lafleur fundraiser
Now regarding Réjean Tremblay (he didn’t name him but I will) and the outrage about Guy Lafleur not being allowed to wear his Habs jersey for a fundraiser, he clarified:
It is a NHL rule. We, as a team, are not allowed to give permission to use the logo without the NHL’s consent. That rule is black and white. I’ve been working with Guy (Lafleur) for 12 years and he understood that completely. You see it in our market and in other markets too, where players do some publicity but none of them with the logo.
We have yet to see, hear or read an apology coming from Le Journal de Montréal, Tremblay or anyone who, once again, were in the wrong. Why? Tremblay has had it against the Habs ever since the organisation refused him to use the Canadiens’ colours for the TV series “He Shoots, He Scores” (Lance et Compte). Every single outing from him since then has been a tarnishing campaign against the organisation. It’s getting old… very old. While I would love to stay away from giving those guys any more publicity that they already have, frustration takes over. We touched on the Carey and Angela Price made-up story in 2016. Then about the Michel Therrien and Max Pacioretty story (resulting in a firing) in 2017.
I wish Molson and the Canadiens one day, launched a lawsuit for defamation of character against him and a few others who do that. The Brendan Kelly, Tony Marinaro and Richard Labbe of this world. At the very least, it would serve as a warning to others, perhaps bringing a bit of accountability for sensation journalism. There’s being critical, then there’s them.
In the meantime, Habs’ fans, with the NHL Draft just a few days away and seeing all the teams needing to try squeezing under a fix cap ceiling, let’s enjoy the ride. This could be a very wild and surprising one. Go Habs Go!