Watching L'Antichambre can be a frightful slog sometimes, and you end up giving your thumb a vigourous workout on the remote, doing reps on the skip button, but tonight's installment was enjoyable. They had as a guest Pierre Houde, and his dignified manner and speaking voice are always a treat.
During a discussion on the energy, talent, and potential of Nikita Scherbak, the panelists were in agreement that they should rein in their enthusiasm, since there are only a couple of spots available on the team, so it's a fait acompli that he's headed back to the WHL.
Or is it? Which is what Mr. Houde interjected, in his polite, deferential tone, that Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien have been emphatic since they took office that they wouldn't deviate from the plan, the goal, which is to win the Stanley Cup. He continued that they've taken big or controversial decisions before, without giving examples, but I imagine one he was thinking of was keeping Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk after the training camp which followed Gary Bettman's Third Lockout.
He finished by saying that a natural response after the success of last spring, coming so close to the Stanley Cup Final, would have been to try to recapture the magic, keep that team intact, and take a run at it again this year. Instead, the team has undergone a significant change, with a multitude of players being churned. That in his mind indicates fresh thinking, and a management team that sticks to its convictions.
François Gagnon then discussed the new dressing room and the new digs at the New Forum. Apparently, the dressing room has been doubled in size, and major improvements have been made to the training and physio areas, the lounge where the players take their meals, among others. This started from a simple conversation this spring, when Pierre Gervais, the equipment manager, was approached by team owner Geoff Molson, who asked him where the facilities ranked with respect to the rest of the league. Mr. Gervais replied that when the team moved from the Forum, the new facility was at the very top, but twenty years on was now in the bottom third. At which point, apparently, Mr. Molson sent out a memo and started cutting cheques, and presto, we did a reno.
It's refreshing when we compare to certain organizations which can't get out of their own way. We can think of Charles Wang who wouldn't spend his own money to improve Nassau Coliseum or build himself a new rink, and for decades has run a laughingstock of a team. Instead, Geoff Molson, if we are to trust the anecdote as factual, made a decision and got quick results, instead of studying and hemming and hawing. And this was not driven by complaints, as far as we know, but from Mr. Molson's attention to detail, and desire to run a first-class organization.
And, as all the panelists agree, not only is the renovated facility going to be an attractant for free agents, and a tool for re-signing our own players, but I have to think that the mentality, the way the Canadiens conduct business, is refreshing and will win over players.