Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced Monday that the club will not renew the contract of goaltending coach Pierre Groulx (above left in photo with Carey Price) for next season.
“I want to sincerely thank Pierre Groulx for his contribution to the Canadiens’ organization over the past four years,” Bergevin said in a news release. “Pierre is a coach with a strong work ethic, a true professional who largely contributed to the development of our goaltenders. Unfortunately, we have to make the difficult decision today not to renew his contract with the team. I want to wish Pierre the best of luck with the pursuit of his career.”
Groulx joined the Canadiens as an assistant coach on July 6, 2009 and completed his fourth season with the club in 2012-13. Before joining the Canadiens, he worked for the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators.
This past season, Price posted a 21-13-4 record with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage during the regular season. In the playoffs, he had a 1-2 record with a 3.26 GAA and a .894 save percentage. For his career, Price has a 9-17 playoff record with a 2.90 GAA and .905 save percentage.
The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs wrote a feature story last February on the strong partnership between Price and Groulx.
“I remember when I arrived in Montreal, going home and telling my wife about Carey: ‘This guy has every tool that a goalie wants: he’s big, he’s agile, he has a winning mentality,’ ” Groulx told Stubbs at the time.
Groulx added about Price: “This is a young man who has grown into a mature adult. He has realized that hockey is a business, not just a sport. He has realized he had to see the importance of everything around hockey. It’s not just stepping on the ice and saying, ‘I’m ready to go.’ Every day is a routine. It’s a big lifestyle change.
“He took big steps last summer with his conditioning and his nutrition. He told himself: ‘OK, if I want to be an elite goalie, this is what I need to do.’ I’m proud of him that he understood that.”
After Bergevin took over as GM last summer with Michel Therrien as his new head coach, Groulx was the only assistant coach from the previous regime who kept his job. Quietly, Price made a strong case for keeping Groulx, whom he had got to know and deeply trusted.
“Carey vouched for me last summer, that’s no secret,” Groulx told Stubbs in February. “I know there’s a great trust factor between the two of us. I relate it to a golfer and his caddie. If the caddie hands him a 7-iron and says it’s 140 yards to the pin, the golfer won’t turn back and say: ‘It’s 142 yards.’
“Pricer needs to have the trust in me that what we do on and off the ice is beneficial to him. I have a certain way of working with him and he appreciates that. It helps him. I’m not an in-your-face, rah-rah type of guy. And he relates a lot to his (rural B.C.) roots. He’s an easygoing guy and that’s exactly the way he handles things.
“He’s got the perfect next-shot mentality,” Groulx added. “He’s got the perfect demeanour for this city: ‘OK, we won, my teammates did a great job, now let’s move on.’ Until we accomplish the goal, it’s not good enough.
“We’re a team, partners. We focus on the things that make us better. The friendship we have goes a long way toward making the job easy.”
They’re not partners anymore.
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)