Joel Quenneville

And so begin the “Joel Quenneville to Montreal” rumors


Pretty interesting discussion on last night’s Hockey Night in Canada Hotstove regarding the future of Montreal’s vacant head coaching job.

Specifically, the rumor that new Habs GM Marc Bergevin — formerly the assistant in Chicago — is targeting Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville.

(Can’t embed video. Here’s the transcript):

Elliotte Friedman: In a perfect world, Marc Bergevin’s hire would be Joel Quenneville, the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. You say “all right, that’s wonderful, but he’s under contract,” well…

There is a sense, if you watched Stan Bowman’s media conference from the end of the year in Chicago, that he wasn’t really happy with some of the coaching that was done this season. If the Canadiens come calling, is there something that could be — and there is no compensation — but would the Blackhawks be willing to listen?

Bergevin and Quenneville have a close friendship going back to when they were together in St. Louis. Quenneville does have a French background — I don’t know how well he speaks it, but he apparently knows it — and I think if the Canadiens went down this route, there would at least be a conversation about Quenneville leaving Chicago and going to Montreal.

Glenn Healy: One thing is very clear, guys — there are two separate camps in the Chicago organization. It is one of the worst-kept secrets in hockey. I think, as Elliott does, that Quenneville could have an opportunity to get away.

Now, Bergevin — he has to make a pretty big hire here. First thing I do, if Rick Dudley’s there, is get him a coffee and a car and get him to go scout players. Don’t ask him who the next coach is going to be. Does it have to be 100 percent French, as a coach? [Bergevin] may, in getting this kind of a star as your coach, he may be able to make this hire and then bring in an assistant that speaks French.

If you’re wondering what Bowman said in his year-end presser that raised eyebrows, here’s what Brough noted back on Apr. 25:

—- The power play (26th, 15.2%) has to get a lot better. “The results speak for themselves,” Bowman said. “A huge disappointment this year. The power play was unacceptable to have the caliber of players we do and not have it work.”

—- In a possibly related story, Bowman denied his relationship with Quenneville was strained: “Obviously there was a challenge when we had the long losing streak — if anything we came together as a unit.”

— Bowman didn’t say this, but assuming Quenneville sticks around,  it’s extremely possible the guy in charge of the power play, assistant coach Mike Kitchen, won’t.

Dreger: Rick Dudley to be named Canadiens assistant GM

Rick Dudley

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, former Atlanta Thrashers GM and current Maple Leafs director of player personnel Rick Dudley is about to move to Montreal.

Dreger reports Dudley is expected to be named as the new assistant general manager for the Canadiens and pair up with new GM Marc Bergevin to try and straighten the team out. Of course, the move doesn’t come without some issues as Dreger highlights.

Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke and newly appointed Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin are in discussions over Dudley’s jump from one team to the other.

Dudley, a member of Toronto’s management team, has an “out” in his contract with the Leafs, but has done extensive work for Toronto on the upcoming NHL Draft and sources say Burke would prefer Dudley not join the Canadiens until after the Draft.

Both the Leafs and Habs have top five picks in this year’s draft and the last thing Toronto wants to do is lend Montreal a hand when both teams are in critical situations heading into the summer. Toronto handing Montreal what would essentially be a cheat sheet would cause a meltdown amongst Leafs fans.

That said, Dreger hits it on the head – expect the two sides to get something worked out so Dudley can join the Habs after the draft in late June.

The Montreal media already likes Marc Bergevin more than Pierre Gauthier

Marc Bergevin

The Canadiens introduced new general manager Marc Bergevin to the local media yesterday, and it seems he did a pretty good job winning over what can be a merciless bunch. Better than his predecessor, Pierre Gauthier, at least.

Here’s Mike Boone of the Montreal Gazette:

At the risk of damning him with faint praise, let’s make one thing perfectly clear about the Canadiens’ new general manager: Marc Bergevin is funnier than his predecessor.

Of course, this puts Bergevin in the select company of about 7 billion humans on this planet who are funnier than Pierre Gauthier. The former general manager would not be on the short list of potential replacements if David Letterman left the Late Show.

And Dave Stubbs of the Gazette:

Sitting beside a beaming and clearly relieved Geoff Molson, the Canadiens’ principal owner, Bergevin spoke of communication, something that was largely a rumour to his predecessor, Pierre Gauthier. He recalled his Point St. Charles roots, his minor-hockey days here, and talked of his pride in returning to a city where he watched the Canadiens often parade the Stanley Cup down Ste. Catherine St.

“The Montreal Canadiens are the Montreal Canadiens,” Bergevin suggested matter-of-factly, as if nothing else need be said.

He even called the crush of hockey media at his coronation “fine people,” either a playful poke or another sign he’s not been on the job very long.

Now Louis Jean of Sportsnet:

Contrary to what many have said, Gauthier is a qualified hockey person. Gainey’s resume speaks for itself. But the Canadiens needed change. They needed a new vision. They needed someone who will inspire the team, staff and fan base.

Marc Bergevin will do all those things. In just a few minutes at his press conference on Wednesday, he had the entire city, province and fan base eating out of his hand.

He’s not perfect. He’ll make mistakes. Remember, he’s a rookie in the position, but as Panthers GM Dale Tallon told me Wednesday, no one will work harder than Bergevin to give the fans what they’ve been longing decades for.

Finally, Francois Gagnon of La Presse (Google translated):

Have you noticed that during his first meeting with the press, Marc Bergevin smiled more often than did Pierre Gauthier in almost nine years with the Canadiens, including the last two years as GM?

In one day, Bergevin has started the reconciliation promised by owner Geoff Molson. With simple, honest answers, his answers in French interspersed with English words and others, given in English and spiced with a few words in French, Bergevin has shown that the new boss of the Canadiens is human.

Of course, a good first impression doesn’t buy an endless supply of rope with the media. (Just ask Brendan Shanahan.) Bergevin has a lot of work ahead of him, and if he doesn’t do it well, the media will turn on him. Nice guy or not.

Related: Here’s Montreal’s new GM, half-naked in a stick bag

Here’s Montreal’s new GM, half-naked in a stick bag

Marc Bergevin 2

From the Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle comes…this:


The picture caption reads: “Worldstars coach Marc Bergevin lies in the middle of the dressing room in a stick bag with a name tag on his forehead.”

Yes, that does appear accurate.

While I’m not 100 percent certain, I believe this was part of the IMG team put together by agent Pat Brisson during the 2004 work stoppage (read more about it here.)

In a related story, here’s Bergevin dressed up as Julius Caesar in front of a curious Sean O’Donnell:

This bodes well for the Canadiens and their long-standing tradition of wacky photo ops.

Could Alain Vigneault become the next coach of the Canadiens?

Nashville Predators v Vancouver Canucks - Game One

Now that Marc Bergevin’s been named the new general manager of the Canadiens, the next big question in Montreal is, who will he choose to coach? Because it won’t be Randy Cunneyworth.

Bergevin says that decision will be made “sooner than later.” And with no word out of Vancouver regarding Alain Vigneault’s future, it’s easy to understand the speculation that the coach of the Canucks could be back behind the bench of the Habs.

Yes, back behind the bench, for those who may have forgotten that Vigneault’s first head-coaching job was with the Canadiens, hired prior to the 1997-98 season and fired after 20 games of the 2000-01 campaign.

While Vigneault only led the Habs to the playoffs once, he really didn’t have much to work with. In fact, he was nominated for coach of the year in 2000 after salvaging a 35-34-9-4 record despite his team being decimated by injuries.

In Vancouver, Vigneault’s made the playoffs in five of his six seasons as coach and took the Canucks to Game 7 of the 2001 Stanley Cup final. In his first season with the club, 2006-07, he won the Jack Adams Award. He was also a finalist for coach of the year in 2010 and 2011.

Oh, and he speaks French.

Of course, should Bergevin feel Vigneault’s the right man for the job, Vigneault would have to leave the Canucks first.

What are the chances of that?

From The Province, the case to fire Vigneault:

As much as Vigneault nearly directed the franchise to its first league championship and has a year remaining on his contract, he has also missed the post-season and been ousted on three occasions in the second round. Against the Los Angeles Kings, the Canucks talked of how the experience of enduring a playoff marathon was going to benefit another long run this spring, how they were tailored to play any kind of game and would be just as happy to win 1-0. But they were never really ready and dropped the first two games on home ice. Players are paid handsomely to be prepared but it’s the coach’s mandate to ensure they are. The season-ending 2-1 overtime loss in Game 5 left the disturbing impression that outside of a failed Mason Raymond wraparound attempt in the extra session, the Canucks were trying not to lose the game rather than pressing to win it.

From the Vancouver Sun, the case to keep him:

If the Canucks can get better by firing easily the best coach they’ve had, by all means pass the blindfold and cigarettes. But unless the Detroit Red Wings are going to punt Mike Babcock – and why wouldn’t they because they lost in the first round, too? – it’s hard to imagine any of the small handful of coaches in Vigneault’s class being available as a potential upgrade.

Ultimately the decision may be Vigneault’s to make. Canucks GM Mike Gillis has voiced his support for the coach, and there’s even talk Gillis could quit if ownership forces him to fire Vigneault.

That said, it’s not preposterous to wonder if Vigneault would prefer coaching in Montreal over Vancouver. After all, it’s not every year the Habs job becomes available.

OK, lately it has, but you get my point.