Habs need proven winner
If the Montreal Canadiens are going to return to greatness, they're
next GM will be the key to their success.
TORONTO, ON -- There has been a lot of talk and speculation lately
over who the Montreal Canadiens plan on interviewing for their vacant
General Manager position.
While the names of Patrick Roy, Pierre McGuire, Marc Bergevin, Pat
Brisson, Julien Brisebois and Francois Giguere continue to make the
rounds, their resumes aren't exactly something Canadiens owner Geoff
Molson and advisor/all-of-a-sudden VP Serge Savard should put at the
top of their list.
That's not to say guys like Bergevin and Brisebois -- currently
assistant GMs with their respective clubs -- won't make solid general
managers in the future (they'll both be GMs at some point in their
careers), but the Habs need something more. They need something
better. They need someone who brings instant credibility and a winning
attitude to the organization.
There's one problem. His knowledge of the French language isn't
exactly up to snub.
Now, these guys don't just fall from the sky. It takes years to
achieve such status. To build a winner franchise, you have to be part
of a winning organization for a number of years. Drafting is just as
important as making trades, or signing a free agent. Eventually,
luring players to town is the least of your concerns. Your team is
that good; people want to play here, they want to be part of a winning
That's what happened in Detroit over the last 20 years, and that's
what needs to happen in Montreal.
The Red Wings dug themselves out of a gigantic hole. Ownership brought
in the right personnel, who brought in their own staff, and that led
to wins and it led to championships (and they've got another shot at
it this year).
But Ken Holland isn't going anywhere. Not any time soon, anyway. He's
the architect of one of the most successful organizations in the
modern-day NHL. He took over from one brilliant hockey mind --
Jimmy Devellano -- and is working alongside another.
Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill has played a vital role in building
winners in Detroit. He's as respected as they come, has helped mold
some of the team's top prospects into elite NHL players, and he's long
been coveted by several teams to take over as their General Manager.
Steve Yzerman left Detroit for a reason. If he was ever to become a GM
in the NHL, it would have to take place in another city. After
Holland, there's Nill -- only three years younger, but equally
If the Montreal Canadiens want to reshape their image and remind every
Habs fan what winning is all about, they need someone like Jim Nill.
The man himself would be perfect... but he needs to brush up on his
Francais, and there are no guarantees that he'd accept the job. In
fact, from most of the folks around the League that I've chatted with
about this, there are no guarantees that Nill would even consider
leaving Detroit for another team. You can't help but wonder; is there
a more historic franchise to move to and restore their image than the
Montreal Canadiens? Imagine the praise you'd receive if you were that
Nill isn't in it for the hype, and he's already earning a GM-like
salary in Detroit.
While this is purely wishful thinking speculation on my part,
it would be nice to see.
At the very least, Molson and Savard must bring in a hockey mind like
that of Nill's. There is nothing to argue. The team needs a wake-up
call. There are solid pieces in place, and a Top 5 draft pick should
speed up the process.
This isn't a matter that will be resolved by next week. The Canadiens
are taking their time. They have to cover all avenues and weigh every
possible option. The owner wants to win, badly. That's a good sign.
Now, if only they can convince Nill to join them. #justsaying