Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier is all smiles at Monday’s news briefing.
Dave Sidaway, Gazette
Late-afternoon update: Lars Eller did not participate in the 5
p.m. scrimmage at Rookie Camp. RDS’s Renaud Lavoie reports it’s a 10-day-old abdominal muscle knack. Eller will be
Later afternoon update from Stubbs: I saw Eller skating alone with Canadiens head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend at Brossard on Friday morning. That might explain update above.
• • •
Team identity and leadership core.
Pierre Gauthier stressed
these points frequently during his 47-minute media briefing, preceding
the opening of Rookie Camp in Brossard.
Carey Price is “more
mature” and “really fits into the group” in the Canadiens’ room. The
goaltender’s success, Gauthier added, will depend largely on the support
of his teammates.
Wearing a charcoal suit and a tight grin,
referring to everyone in the Canadiens’ organization as “Mr.” (it
sounded funny in the case of P.K. Subban) Gauthier seemed more at ease
than his predecessor, media-wary Bob Gainey.
And why not?
Gauthier’s team is undefeated, and “we have a better knowledge of who we are and what we can accomplish.”
In his opening remarks, Gauthier cited an “impression of optimism” that’s carried over from the Canadiens’ success in the playoffs.
Gauthier spoke about 17 holdovers – “not including Mr. Subban” – giving the Canadiens “quite a bit of stability”.
“We like our leadership group,” Gauthier said, promising a captain would be named – by management – before the season begins. The GM said the Canadiens are blessed with “emotional” leaders who “care about the team.”
No names were mentioned, but the group surely includes Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Hal Gill.
Gauthier made frequent mention of Larry Carriere, a hockey man of “enormous experience”, whose familiarity with defence, the position Carriere played in the NHL, will be an asset to player development. The GM also mentioned Randy Ladouceur’s experience as a Dman.The remarks suggest this was perceived as an organizational deficiency.
Gauthier expressed confidence that Markov would make a full recovery from knee surgery. He said the Canadiens had no hard and fast rules against negotiating contracts during a hockey season, adding that preliminary discussions have begun on a new deal for Markov.
Gauthier described the anointment of Carey Price as the team’s Number 1 goaltender as a difficult decision that came down to “who is the person we want to go forward with, middle and long-term.”
Although 21 players are on one-way contracts and the other two roster positions are generally ceded to Subban and Lars Eller, Gauthier said “there are positions open on the team.”
“Coaches tend to look at a 28-man roster,” Gauthier said. “No one is guaranteed a job. A lot of things can happen.”
Gauthier described the team identity as predicated on speed and “intelligence”, which the GM says is moving the puck efficiently and knowing what to do with it.”
Asked whether the playoff loss to Philadelphia exposed a lack of team toughness, Gauthier cited Detroit, Pittsburgh and Chicago as successful teams who have maintained winning formulas based on a consistent identity.
Take that to mean we won’t be watching the big, bad Habs any time soon.
• Jeff Halpern is a right-handed faceoff specialist whose PK abilities will lighten the load on Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez.
• Brock Trotter remains on the team’s protected list.
• Louis Leblanc made his own decision about leaving college for junior hockey, as did Jarred Tinordi. It is important, Gauthier said, for young players to choose environments in which they can excel and build their confidence.
• The Hamilton Randys, Cunneyworth and Ladouceur, are two NHL vets who were captains and are capable of developing “professionalism and leadership” down on the farm.