Now that the Mastercard Memorial Cup is over after the host team, the Shawinigan Cataractes, eliminated Dale Hunter’s London Knights 2-1 in overtime yesterday at Centre Bionest on Anton Zlobin’s goal late in the first overtime period, according to a source, it is expected that the Montreal Canadiens will name Robert “Bob” Hartley the team’s next head coach. It is also expected that Eric Veilleux, the head coach of the Cataractes, will follow him to Montreal to become his assistant coach.
Three weeks ago, I mentioned Hartley as one of the team’s top candidates to become the next head coach of the Habs.
Another former Colorado Avalanche head coach from 1998 to 2002, Hartley, 51 won the Stanley Cup with the Avs in 2000–01. After five seasons at the helm of team, he was fired 31 games into 2002-03 campaign. He quickly found another job with the Atlanta Thrashers the same year, where he coached until the beginning of 2007 season, when he was fired after the Thrashers got off to an 0–6 start. Before he accepted a two-year contract to coach the ZSC Lions in Zurich in the summer of 2011, Hartley had a successful career as a hockey analyst for the French-language RDS TV channel, TSN‘s sister channel. In his first season in Switzerland, he led his team to the league championship, but it is rumored that Hartley has an out-clause in his contract that would allow him to accept NHL offers. Hartley possesses the experienced needed to coach a team in Montreal, where the media pressure is much higher than it was in Colorado and Atlanta. It is also reported that Hartley is a serious candidate to the Calgary Flames head coach position.
Marc Bergervin, who was named the Canadiens’ general manager at the beginning of May, had been meeting potential candidates in recent weeks. He was seen along with owner Geoff Molson in Shawinigan in the past few days and his presence fuelled rumors regarding Hartley in Canadian media. Two of the Habs’ top prospects, Michael Bournival and Morgan Ellis, played for the Cataractes this season. Prospects Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu were also playing in the tournament, for London and St. John, respectively. Gerard Gallant, the St. John Sea Dogs’ head coach, was also rumored to be in the running for the head coach position, but he denied meeting Bergevin or any member of the organization.
Hartley worked as a special advisor to head coach Eric Veilleux during the Memorial Cup and he was often seen talking to members of the Montreal Canadiens organization throughout the tournament. Veilleux played nine years under Bob Hartley as a player in Laval, Cornwall and Hersey, and considers him as his top mentor.
The Bleu Blanc Rouge’s front office is slowly shaping up after the team announced the nomination of Rick Dudley as the team’s assistant GM two days ago. Dudley had been working as an assistant to GM Brian Burke with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dudley will be splitting duties with assistant GM Larry Carriere, who was given a contract extension. As part of the agreement, Dudley will not take part of the draft and will rather be involved in signing free agents and attending to internal matters.
Other rumors are swirling that Hartley’s former captain with the Atlanta Thrashers, Scott Mellanby, has joined the Habs’ managerial team. Mellanby, who was working as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues, announced last week that he was resigning to “explore career opportunities”. UPDATE: Mellanby has been named director of player personnel according to Renaud Lavoie of RDS.
Scott Mellanby est le nouveau directeur du personnel des joueurs du Canadien.
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 28, 2012
will most likely be made on Tuesday, May 29th, before the start of the Stanley Cup final or at the beginning of June as Hartley needs to void his contract with the Zürcher Schlittschuh Club Lions in Zurich before accepting the position with the Canadiens. UPDATE: Bergevin will likely be in Toronto on Tuesday for the NHL draft combine, so I would be surprised if the announcement is made tomorrow.
Do you agree with the choice of Hartley as the Canadiens’ next head coach?