It’s been a long time coming but, perhaps with the most recent changes in Montreal, you could say that the city is becoming a little less chilly in terms of being a destination city for NHL players.
The beginning of the temperature change, of course, can be traced to the introduction of Gainey as the GM in Montreal. He provides instant credibility to the franchise having been both a champion on and off the ice. His years of superb work in Minnesota and Dallas put him on the NHL map as a savvy GM who makes everything around him better. Certainly, it seems players have started to notice this. Kovalev resigned with the team – something I doubt very highly he would have done had he been invited back under Andre Savard. Furthermore, while we didn’t sign a plethora of big-name UFA’s, players like Teemu Selanne did admit that he was very close to coming to Montreal.
We weren’t a destination city to play in yet, but at least we were making inroads. If you include the comments Gainey had for the fans in the Breezer incident before the last season started – about the boo-birds being yellow and the Habs not needing or wanthing those fans, it’s fairly evident that, very early in his reign, Gainey was already working on changing the allure of Montreal. I believe it’s a huge stigma these days in the NHL.
Now, with the hiring of Guy Carbonated Water (Carbonneau, of course), we have a coach who is also highly respected league-wide. Consider the comments that were floating around before the game against Dallas. As much as Julien seemed to be a good coach to play for, Carbo brings another dose of instant credibility to the club. His desire to make the team a ‘family unit’ is something that will appeal to a great number of players league-wide as well. I suggest that, as of now, Montreal has taken a second huge leap on the NHL-front interms of being a destination city with the players.
We’ll never hit the same allure as Toronto, as much as it galls me to say it, because there’s way too much in the way of political nonsense concerning Francophone players, the language issue, and the ridiculous media in Montreal. However, these issues can be minimized by the strong reputation of Carbo and Gainey and the continuing work that they are putting in to make this city a welcome place to play.
An interesting thing came to my attention last night during the game, and it’s something I believe is significantly on the radar of Gainey for the coming year, and it’s something I’m not too sure would have happened with Julien as coach. Jason Arnott is UFA this summer, and while he might have completely ignored Montreal as a possibility in the past, with Gainey as GM, and now Carbo as the coach, I think there might be a much greater chance of him looking north for his new hockey home.
If you’re looking for that big solid centre for the second line, he’d be a great choice…
These changes won’t come overnight, by any stretch, however with Carbo being introduced as coach and the respect he has league-wide, I think there’s a much better chance that players will want to come here and work under him. It’s been a long time since Montreal has really been a respectable place to play but, with this new addition, I have this feeling that the corner has finally been turned in Montreal.