Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Vincent Riendeau named Assistant General Manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs

An under-the-radar bit of news broke yesterday, lost in the flak of training camp splashy sexy items.  Vincent Riendeau, already employed as an assistant coach in charge of goaltenders for the Hamilton Bulldogs, has been named Assistant General Manager for the team as well.  He will retain his goalie coach duties.

There are a few aspects to discuss with respect to this announcement.  The main point I think is that this is good news for the team and its fans, starved as they are for a competitive team and some playoff actions.  Since he was hired, Marc Bergevin has been listed as the general manager of both the Canadiens and the Bulldogs.  While I have no doubt that he got a lot of help from his scouts and assistant GM's, what with the panoply of qualified hockey men in the organization, I sometimes worried that Mr. Bergevin might be stretched to cover both teams, that things might slip through the cracks.  There was no one specifically tasked with Bulldogs duty, as happened in the past when Julien BriseBois was the Bulldogs GM outright.

Also, I thought that Marc Bergevin might have come into the job with a good functional knowledge of the AHL, it might have been a large part of his duties as an assistant GM in Chicago, and he may have known the league and its players quite well.  After two years spending most of his time in Montréal dealing with the NHL though, that edge may have dulled, so it might have been time to hand off some of the duties to a man who has his ear to the ground, is plunged in the AHL environment.

Last season, Martin St.Pierre and Nick Tarnasky were some of the AHL vets brought in to support the youngsters in Hamilton, to muted results.  This season, we have Jake Dowell, T.J. Hensick, Joe Finley and maybe Drayson Bowman as these AHL vets, and we'll see if they're more effective in this role, if their contribution translates into a playoff push.  But finding these AHL players who'll fit in well with your team takes an intimate knowledge of the league, day-to-day exposure that you can't get in an NHL head office, probably.  

Vincent Riendeau, spending his games in the press box, is in a good position to observe players from other teams, and pitch in on the management side.  It's also a good intro to the hockey operations world.  Some Habs fans sometimes complain that the French language preferred-qualification cuts down on the number of applicants.  While we may dispute this, and show that the Canadiens actually have a vast pool of qualified hockey men in Québec who seldom get NHL opportunities since they're not part of the old boys network, there's no downside to stocking the pond, so to speak, and to start to groom some staffers to increase the number of qualified applicants for the future.

And while we're speaking of succession planning, there might be a concern that Mr. Riendeau will lose focus on the goalie coach side of his duties, and we'll suffer that way, but there is already a quality goalie coach in Hamilton who can pick up some of that slack.  Marco Marciano, who is the former Blainville-Boisbriand Armada goalie coach, graduated to the AHL last season as video coach.  He's already in the fold, and may be ready to transition back to goalie coach duties, if Vincent Riendeau steps away from these duties to more fully concentrate on the general manager side in the future.

So this is good news, in keeping with the Marc Bergevin régime, with an emphasis on building a strong brain trust, and delegation of duties, as opposed to the centralized control and micro-management which prevailed during the Gainey-Gauthier administration.  Let's hope this helps the Bulldogs to become a quality hockey team that builds winners and competitors, and turns into the hockey player factory and the pipeline of prospects we've envisioned for the last few years.

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