Montreal hires ex-Hab Lebeau as minor league assistant

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The Montreal Canadiens have brought another familiar face back into the fold, naming former forward Stephan Lebeau as the new assistant coach of its AHL affiliate in Hamilton.

“Stephan has a wealth of knowledge as a hockey coach,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “His experience and ability to work with young players are a tremendous asset for our organization.”

Lebeau, 45, had previously spent two years as the head coach of QMHJL Victoriaville from 2004-06.

This hire is the latest in Bergevin’s overall theme of bringing former Canadiens into the fold.

Head coach Michel Therrien was brought back this season for his second tour of duty in Montreal. He was joined by another ex-Montreal coach, Clement Jodoin (an assistant from 1997-2001) and former Habs defenseman J.J. Daigneault (currently an assistant coach) and Patrice Brisebois (currently a player development coach).

Lebeau’s best season in Montreal came during the 1992-93 season, when he finished fourth on the team with 31 goals and 80 points, helping the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

Montreal re-signs Ryan White: One year, $700,000

Ryan White
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Montreal is bringing back one of their tougher forwards.

Center Ryan White re-signed with the Canadiens on a one-year, $700,000 deal. By doing so, White avoids going to arbitration and going through the not-so fun times that entails.

White is one of those pesky players who sometimes puts his team in a bad spot by getting a little too rambunctious. Last season, he finished the year with one goal and no assists in 26 games as well as 67 penalty minutes. His five-game suspension last season for elbowing Kent Huskins helped earn him a less-than stellar reputation.

Now he’ll potentially be on a line with newcomer George Parros to help give the Habs more ammo to use against the Bruins and other tough teams in the East.

Jagr flirting with Montreal once again

Jaromir Jagr, Patrick Sharp

It’s not really free agency time until Jaromir Jagr starts his courtship with the Montreal Canadiens. We can now say that it’s all really finally underway.

Louis-Andre Lariviere of TVA Sports reports (in French) Jagr and the Habs are again spending time chatting this summer and it’s possible he could wind up signing with the Canadiens. His agent Petr Svoboda says Montreal is a place Jagr loves (poor translation ahead).

“Jaromir always wanted play in Montreal,” insisted Svoboda. “We discussed with [CEO] Marc Bergevin yesterday. The interest is mutual, but the decision is now up to the Canadiens.”

Jagr flirting with the Habs is nothing new as they’re a team that’s come up each of the previous two summers in free agency. He of course signed with Philadelphia two years ago and Dallas last year before winding up in Boston at the trade deadline.

At 41 years-old he’s still got some game left in him and reuniting him with fellow Czech Republic star Tomas Plekanec might do wonders for both of them.

Parros traded to Montreal

George Parros

One of the NHL’s most well-recognized tough guys is taking his mustache to Montreal — George Parros has been traded by Florida to the Canadiens for minor-league forward Philippe Lefebvre and a seventh-round pick (which was originally the Panthers’ anyway).

Parros played 39 games for the Panthers in 2013, scoring once, adding one assist and, most importantly, fighting nine times.

The 33-year-old is entering the second year of a two-year, $1.85 million contract he signed with the Panthers last summer.

In Montreal, he’ll be expected to play protector for a lineup that includes a number of talented, but undersized, forwards, including newly signed Daniel Briere.

The Habs haven’t had a true heavyweight since the days of Georges Laraque.

Montreal signs Briere: two years, $8 million

Danny Briere

Daniel Briere is headed home.

The Quebec native, recently bought out of his deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, has agreed to join the Montreal Canadiens on a two-year deal, the club announced on Thursday.

According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, Briere’s deal is for $8 million, with a $4 million annual cap hit. Combined with the Flyers buyout ($825,000 per year for the next four years), Briere will make nearly $5 million in 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Update: the contract also has no-trade and no-movement clauses, TVA’s Louis Jean reports.

As mentioned above, the signing represents a homecoming for the veteran forward.

Briere, 35, grew up in Gatineau and played his junior hockey for Drummondville of the QMJHL.

This deal also marks a reconciliation of sorts. In 2007, Briere spurned the Habs as a free agent, opting instead to sign with Philadelphia despite the Canadiens offering a similar deal.

Here’s a recap of that decision, from a 2008 Sports Illustrated piece:

The fit seemed logical. Brière grew up a bleu, blanc et rouge fanatic (even though his hometown of Gatineau is a few miles outside Ottawa), and when his contract with the Sabres was up, the Canadiens were prepared.

They arranged for Brière, who had led Buffalo in scoring during the regular season (95 points) and in the playoffs (15), to meet with Habs legend Jean Béliveau.

They also offered a menu of enticements, including help with finding a house near the sprawling greenspace of Parc du Mont-Royal and a good school for his three sons, now nine, eight and seven.

But Brière saw a greater advantage to signing with the Flyers, who had nowhere to go but up. After finishing with an NHL-worst 56 points and missing the playoffs for the first time since 1994, they had acquired forward Scott Hartnell and defenseman Kimmo Timonen to complement a young nucleus that included forwards Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. 

While the Montreal deal is a nice story, there are concerns that Briere only adds to a group of diminutive forwards that got pushed around at times last season.

The 5-foot-10 Briere now joins a lineup featuring David Desharnais (5-foot-7), Brian Gionta (5-foot-7) and Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9).