Tuesday, July 10, 2012
When Marc Bergevin took over as Habs' G.M., he breezed in with a smile and a wink and the promise of a new lightness in the organization's hierarchy. After the oppressive secrecy of the Pierre Gauthier era, Bergevin's willingness to speak frankly about his decision-making was a great relief. It turns out, however, that the new boss isn't immune from a little glossing over of the truth when it suits him.
There's been a lot of discussion in the last week about the Canadiens decision to pass over Larry Robinson as a member of the new coaching staff. The Hall-of-Fame defenceman claimed to be interested in Montreal and the rest of us were certainly interested in welcoming an expert of his stature back to the fold. Then to the disappointment of many, the team announced the job would go to J.J.Daigneault instead.
Now, there's nothing on Daigneault's record as a minor-league coach that says he isn't ready for the NHL. He comes with glowing reviews from the Rangers' AHL affiliate in Connecticut, where he spent the last five years instructing many members of New York's impressive young blueline corps. As is the case with any new guy coming to the organization, we can just wish him the best and hope, for the good of the team, he does a great job.
That said, there's something not quite right about the way in which the Bergevin team handled the Daigneault-over-Robinson hiring. Sometime after Robinson's New Jersey Devils lost in the Stanley Cup final on June 11, Bergevin requested permission to approach Robinson, then called to assess the big man's interest in a job with the Canadiens. According to the Montreal Gazette, calls went back and forth between the two sides, but because of storm damage to his property, Robinson wasn't able to jump on a plane and meet Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien for an immediate in-person interview.
In the end, Bergevin called Robinson just before the team announced Daigneault's appointment and told Robinson Therrien really liked his interview with Daigneault and that's why the Canadiens went in that direction. Robinson said he understood and that it was a business decision. Although many fans were disappointed such a great Canadien would not be returning to Montreal, most were willing to give Daigneault a shot.
That should have been the end of the story, but a piece in the Hartford Courant this week makes one wonder whether Robinson was really a consideration at all. The article gives a little insight into the speed-of-light hiring process the team employed in choosing Daigneault:
"When Montreal was searching for an assistant to concentrate on the defense, Daigneault’s name was mentioned in the Canadian media," the story reads. "But he did not apply for the job because he was still under contract with the Rangers.
"It wasn’t until the Canadiens contacted Sather that the offer came. Daigneault was working at the Rangers’ prospect camp last Friday when Sather told him he would waive the final year of his contract if he wanted to leave.
Posted by J.T. at 1:50 PM