Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Canadiens making bench moves first before the Draft and free agency frenzy

“Silent Bob” Gainey has not been so quiet this week with the Montreal Canadiens.

With the pending new ownership of the team by the Molson brothers now in place, he can now safely begin making changes to the organization.

First, there was a rather surprising move with the removal of Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Don Lever and assistant coach Ron Wilson.


Lever had been the teams longest serving coach and Wilson had been part of the team for even longer.

They led the Bulldogs to the Calder Cup championship in 2006-07 and many expected Lever to be a leading candidate to fill the head coaching job in Montreal.

“I’m very disappointed,” said Lever to the Hamilton Spectator. “Somewhere along the line I must have done something wrong, but they didn’t tell me what it was.

“I just don’t understand how I can be called up and then discarded.”


Lever had been brought up to Montreal as an assistant after the sacking of Guy Carbonneau.

Wilson was named as the Bulldogs interim coach and had a respectable 10-3-2 record.

In the playoffs, they lost in six games in a division semi-final series.

The firing of the duo was certainly a head scratcher as many of the young Canadiens players played in the Hammer under their tutelage.

The changes continued on today when it was announced that associate coach Doug Jarvis was let go.


When Jacques Martin was hired, it had been announced that the new Canadiens head coach would meet with both Jarvis and assistant coach Kirk Muller.

The meeting with Muller clearly went well as he will be staying on for the upcoming season.


Maybe Martin is a Trekkie and likes the thought of having “Captain Kirk”” with him.

While Jarvis is known more for his defense as a player, he did put a power-play that led the league for two straight seasons (2006-07, 2007-08).

This season however, the PP fell apart and obviously someone had to answer for it.

So the next stage for the Canadiens will be the 2009 Entry Draft on Friday.

Bob Gainey has gone on record that he has made some preliminary talks with pending restricted free agents, but will not be negotiating with any pending free agents on his roster until after this weekend.

With a whack of pending UFAs and RFAs and the new salary cap to be announced within days, it does give Gainey some play room to make a blockbuster deal before or during the Draft to fill any potential voids that could be left after July 1.

The Vincent LeCavalier deal speculation picked up steam today as the battle for control of the Tampa Bay Lightning between Oren Koules and Len Barrie apparently found itself in NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s office.

Meanwhile Jacques Martin will still need to find a second assistant behind the bench, as well as a new goaltending coach.

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