When Marc Bergevin took the general-manager reins in Montreal last week, he faced quite a task. The Canadiens are looking to return to their former glory, and the moves the Blackhawks former assistant GM makes will be an attempt to get them there sooner rather than later.
His first task was finding his assistant, and it looks like Rick Dudley will be that guy. But his next move is the one everyone is waiting for: who will Bergevin select as his head coach? Bergevin knows plenty of good current and former coaches in this league, and hell probably do his due diligence to bring in several for consideration.
So who will it be? Heres a look, in no particular order, at some of the possibilities.
Patrick Roy: As a goaltender he handled pressure in his own quirky way, talking to his goal posts. But his playing career speaks for itself, as hes got four Cups to his credit. Roy would be a dazzling hire for the Canadiens, and youd think the guy who started his career in that sweater would be chomping at the bit to get the position. Question is: would Roy become a bigger story than his team? And Bergevin may want someone with more NHL coaching experience.
Jacques Lemaire: Jack Todd wrote in the Montreal Gazette today that the Canadiens should contact the venerable (and currently retired) coach ASAP. Lemaire has won Stanley Cups at every level, be it as a player (eight with the Canadiens), an assistant GM (two, again with the Canadiens) and as a head coach (one with the New Jersey Devils). If anyone understands what it takes to get a team back on track and how to handle being in that fishbowl of a hockey market, its Lemaire.
Marc Crawford: Another former coach who fits the mold of what the Canadiens need: an English- and French-speaking leader and a Cup winner who has found success in most of his previous stops. But Crawford, whos been a TV analyst this past season, has struggled in his recent stints. His two seasons with the Dallas Stars ended with no playoff berths, as did his previous time at the Los Angeles Kings helm.
Alain Vigneault: Well, this morning the Vancouver coach may have been a potential candidate. But general manager Mike Gilles signed a contract extension tonight, which means Vigneaults stay in Canuck-land likely continues. Which brings us to
Joel Quenneville: When Hockey Night in Canada had its Hotstove segment on Sunday night, Elliotte Friedman and Glenn Healy said the Blackhawks coach would be the perfect hire for the Canadiens. Quenneville and Bergevin have a great relationship, and one that goes back many years. There have been some bumps between Quenneville and the powers that be this season. Barry Smith was brought in to help work on the power play, then was gone during the playoffs. General manager Stan Bowman, when talking about that power play at the end of the season, said it was more of a coaching thing than anything. But Bowman also said that, overall this season, Joel did a great job. Its a testament to his track record as a coach to weather the storm in tough times. We see things very similarly. Team president John McDonough said in March that, even if the Blackhawks had a short playoff run, he didnt foresee changes. We have great confidence in Joel.
Quenneville also has two seasons remaining with his current contract. And while he understands French, he doesnt speak it.
Bergevin has a big decision to make in the near future. What it will be is still unknown. But he has one heck of a talent pool from which to choose.