Due to COVID, the Montreal Canadiens took an extra long Christmas break and won’t play until Jan. 12. This is a good thing for the team, considering, at one point, they had as many as 18 players in COVID Protocol. The Canadiens may not have been playing hockey, but that doesn’t mean there was no news: there have been many things going on, especially with the general manager (GM) search and Carey Price‘s injury progress. Here is a look at the news and rumours over the Christmas break.
Price Injury Update
Price has not played for the Canadiens yet this season. After carrying the team to the Stanley Cup Final, Price had offseason surgery on his knee, and he also entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. He finished the program after 30 days, but due to his knee injury, he had a lot of work to do with the athletic trainer of the Habs.
According to Canadiens head coach Dom Ducharme, there is still no timetable on Price’s return, but he also said no one has told him that Price would not play this season. Price is still on a long road to returning from his injury, and the Habs are in no hurry to rush him back. There was a rumour that Price could be back for the Olympics, but now that NHL players are not participating in the Olympics, that timetable is off the books.
Bergevin Gets Job With the Kings
On Nov. 28, the Canadiens fired GM Marc Bergevin and hired Jeff Gorton as Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations. The Habs were amid their worst start in franchise history, and Bergevin was in the final year of his ten-year contract. Under Bergevin, the Canadiens won three division titles, went to the Conference Final and, just last season, the Stanley Cup Final. Bergevin wasn’t afraid to make a controversial move, like when he traded fan-favourite PK Subban or drafted beleaguered prospect Logan Mailloux.
Canadiens fans were very divided regarding whether or not Bergevin was a good GM for the Canadiens. Some loved him, some hated him, and very few were in between. Either way, he is no longer the GM of the Canadiens, but he wasn’t unemployed for very long, as the Los Angeles Kings hired him this week as a senior advisor to the GM, Rob Blake. It’s a tad ironic that another team hired Bergevin before the Canadiens found a new GM, but more on that later.
Gallagher Could Be On the Trade Block
With the Canadiens struggling as bad as they are and Bergevin leaving them in a terrible cap situation, they’ll have to shed money. To do this, some of the team’s top players and fan favourites may be moved at the deadline or in the offseason. Brendan Gallagher‘s name has been brought up in trade rumours this season, and his hard-nosed, don’t quit type of play could be of interest to many teams.
Gallagher has a cap hit of $6.5 million; added to all the other high contracts given out by Bergevin, the Canadiens find themselves over the cap next season. Moving Gallagher would help alleviate some of that cap and put the organization in a little bit of a better place next season. It won’t be easy to move him due to his six-team no-trade list and no-movement clause, but if the team decides to rebuild, Gallagher could decide to play elsewhere.
Canadiens Search for New GM and Hire of Machabee
The Canadiens may not have hired a new GM yet, but they hired someone to replace Paul Wilson, Senior Vice President and Public Affairs and Communications. Chantal Machabee was hired as the Vice President, Communications. Machabee was with RDS, the Quebec sports station and sister station to TSN, since its inception 32 years ago. Gorton hopes this new position will help maintain good communication with the fans and media.
The Canadiens are still searching for a new GM but have started interviews. This week former Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy was interviewed by the Canadiens. He is the first of a long list of candidates that includes former NHLers Mathieu Darche, Roberto Luongo, Daniel Briere, Marc Denis and Stephane Quintal, agent Kent Hughes, former Women’s National team hockey coach Daniele Sauvageau, and Emilie Castonguay of Momentum Hockey. The Canadiens feel they should have a new GM in place by the end of January.
Mailloux Reinstated in the OHL
Canadiens prospect Logan Mailloux has been reinstated by the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) after getting suspended by the league for violating the expectations of appropriate conduct. Mailloux was charged in Sweden for distributing a photograph of a woman he took while they were having consensual sex; he paid a fine, and the matter was considered closed by the Swedish court. Mailloux returned to Canada, and when word got out of what happened in Sweden, he asked not to be drafted, stating that he needed time to mature. He was drafted by the Canadiens regardless of his wishes, and entered several programs designed to improve him as a person and ensure he understood the extent of what he did.
The OHL reinstated Mailloux, as they were satisfied that he finished the courses and therapy, all that was required to ensure he improved as a person. He returned on Jan. 7 and didn’t disappoint in the two games played since his return; he has two goals, four points and is a plus-seven with 13 shots. If he is truly past his immaturity and has learned from his misconduct, he will be a great asset for the Canadiens.
Well, that is the news and rumours for the week. As I write this, the Canadiens have had several players return from COVID protocol and injury, as the list of over 20 players on injured reserve or COVID protocol gets smaller. This is good news for the team as they get ready to continue — and hopefully turn around — this miserable season. All we can do now is sit back and see who gets hired as the new GM and hope more players return to the lineup. Until then, take care.
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Trege Wilson has been a freelance content writer for the past four years and with the THW for the past year. He is the co-host of the popular Montreal Canadiens podcast Habs Unfiltered on IHeartRadio.com. Trege is very passionate about all things Canadiens and loves to provide his readers with great quality news, rumours and opinions on the Montreal Canadiens. Trege has also been featured on CTV news and ESPN Radio; for interviews and guest appearances, you can contact him at any of his social media accounts listed under his photo in such articles as this one.