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April 10, 2012 | 4:59pm ET
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 culture.

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 talented.

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 person.

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

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of TheFourthPeriod.com and The Fourth Period Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.


 

 

Archives:
Feb. 14, 2012 Plenty to consider around deadline
Jan. 06, 2012 Players' wanted say in realignment process

 

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