Whitby - May 29, 2012 - The rumour mill out of Montreal is all abuzz with the expected announcement over the next week - Montreal Canadiens' General Manager Marc Bergevin announcing Robert 'Bob' Hartley as the Habs' newest bench boss. With the 2012 MasterCard Memorial tournament just completed, fuel has also been added to the ferocious rumour that Shawinigan Cataractes' head coach, Eric Veilleux will be named as assistant head coach to Hartley.
Rumours in the hockey world can normally be unfounded and baseless at the best of times, but when one pieces all of the facts together over the past two weeks, one can only surmise that this latest Montreal Canadiens' rumour is worth its weight in gold.
Much is known already about the colourful Bob Hartley, a 2001 NHL Stanley Cup Champion head coach with the Colorado Avalanche. Hartley has sported a .581 winning game percentage in 651 games in the NHL. Hartley is also fully bilingual, thereby eliminating any unneeded requisite language controversy that was apparent when interim head coach, Randy Cunneyworth was put behind the Canadiens' bench.
On the other hand, unless you have been a junior hockey follower, primarily in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) rinks, you haven't heard much about Shawinigan Cataractes' head coach, Eric Veilleux. The 41-year-old Veilleux previously played nine seasons under head coach Bob Hartley in Laval, Cornwall and Hershey before hanging up his skates and donning a business suit behind the Cataractes' bench.
Veilleux has coached the past seven QMJHL seasons in Shawinigan. This is his first Memorial Cup victory.
Many Cornwall-ites in the early 1990's respected Veilleux's determination, bite, tenacity and energy as a diminutive centreman with the Cornwall Aces when Hartley was also the head coach. Today, Veilleux is listed as one Hartley's staff members at the Hartley hockey school (www.hartleyhockey.com). Most recently, at the Memorial Cup in Shawinigan last week, the Cataractes recruited Bob Hartley as the club's volunteer advisor. Hartley was seen exchanging words with Montreal Canadiens' General Manager, Marc Bergevin, who was in town to observe some of his organization's earlier draft picks that were playing in the tournament.
Now comes the hiccup to this exciting rumour.
Bob Hartley signed a two-year contract with the Zurich Lions in Switzerland last year. This past winter, Hartley coached the Lions to a league title and still has one year left on his contract.
According to Zurich Lions' General Manager, Peter Zuhner, Hartley does not have an out clause in his deal that would allow him to return to the NHL. Say it ain't so Bob...
In Other Habs' News
The Canadiens' continue to bolster their off-ice roster with good hockey people who possess great hockey acumen. Bobby Kinsella was hired last Thursday as an amateur scout. Kinsella spent the past two years in Iowa as an assistant coach and director of scouting for the USHL. Kinsella previously coached Canadiens' power forward Max Pacioretty before he was drafted to the Habs. Kinsella’s scouting will be based in Chicago, where he will handle recruiting in the USHL.
Rick Dudley has left the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and now becomes assistant general manager to Bergevin.
Of all the personnel announcements, the most recent addition was announced yesterday as Bergevin's longtime friend and former NHL player, Scott Mellanby was named Montreal's director of player personnel. Mellanby and Bergevin played together for the St. Louis Blues in 2001-02 and have remained close ever since.
The Final Minute
In my last article, I talked about a brighter 2012-13 NHL season for the Montreal Canadiens. Being a true hockey fan at heart, I am getting more giddy as the days go on. I like where Habs GM Marc Bergevin has this storied franchise heading. Let us hope the aforementioned rumours become fact and not fiction!
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one...