Guy Carbonneau called the acquisition of Alex Tanguay a "Christmas present that came before July 1."
"He may have had some difficulties last season," the coach added, "But his style will mesh very well with the kinds of players we have. And at the age he’s coming here, I think he’ll be able to handle the pressure of playing in Montreal."
Carbo said neither he nor Gainey had made any promises to Tanguay in terms of potential linemates. The coach and gm will see how things work out on the ice, as was the case last season, Carbonneau recalled, in finding a line combination that suited Alex Kovalev.
Re Laraque, Carbo said "it’s not my style of coaching to have a guy at the end of the bench just to fight."
"I haven’t changed my philosophy," Carbonneau added. "I think Georges can contribute. He understands his role and he’s a mature player with a lot of experience."
Will Laraque give Carbonneau the kind of minutes he got from his fourth liners last season?
"I hope so. I talked to Georges, and that’s one thing we’re going to work on this year, working hard in practice so he can put those minutes on the ice.
"I like to use four lines. I always did, and I don’t think I’m going to change. He’s going to have to be in good shape and reliable defensively. But I know who he is, I’ve seen him play and I know he can do it."
Carbonneau said that although the new schedule isn’t out yet, he expects Canadiens will play more back-to-back and three-in-four-nights sequences.
Carbonneau seemed quite comfortable with the amount of time Mats Sundin is taking to determine his future. His serenity – while describing Sundin as an "extraordinarily good fit" with the Canadiens – suggests the club may be in a better position vis-à-vis Sundin than anyone is letting on.
When asked about Vancouver’s offer, Carbonneau said "no one is going to spit on $20 million, but if competing offers are between $7 million and $8.5 million (per season), once you factor in taxes there’s a difference of may $1 million, $1.5 million.
"I think Mats Sundin has plenty of money in the bank. Money won’t necessarily be the deciding factor in where he chooses to finish his career.
"Everyone who knows Mats says he makes decisions when he’s ready. I don’t think he was ready July 1, and I think he’s still not ready."
And with the Rangers and Detroit spending up to near the cap, Carbonneau says "I like our chances" of landing Sundin.
On Mark Streit: "After the kind of season Mark had, we knew it would be hard to re-sign him. We like Mark, but we have other priorities."
Mathieu Dandenault: "The season doesn’t begin until October and he’s still a member of the Montreal Canadiens. With the kind of schedule we’re going to have, we’ll need more than 20 players. We were extremely lucky last season to avoid serious injuries, and we’ll need depth in our lineup."
On a possible cap squeeze: "I think we can sign Sundin and still have a cushion"
On the situation at centre: "We’ve tried Chris Higgins at centre. We can till try Sergei (Kostitsyn) if we want to. Steve Beegin has experience at centre. We have different options. Nothing is in stone. We’re laying ine pre-season games and we’ll try different combinations."
On the market: "I’m not surprised by the money. They give that kind of money because they can. But I’m surprised by the length of some contracts, especially for average or above-average players."
On Mike Komisarek getting a mega-contract next year: "I’m sure we can reach up. We have the money and some room left. I’m sure they’ll figure out something. I don’t think he’s going anywhere."