The Montreal Canadiens continued their rebuild following a disappointing season during the 2011-2012 campaign, adding three staff to their front office including a new coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sylvain Lefebvre. In addition to Lefebvre, Montreal hired Patrice Brisebois as the player development coach and Martin Lapointe as the director of player development.
Montreal General Manager Marc Bergevin made the announcement Wednesday evening, stating the hockey experience the trio will provide will build relationships with the younger players. “The trick is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you. Then you look smart by association. That’s what I’m doing.” Bergevin added, “These are all quality guys with a lot of hockey experience. They’ve each won a Stanley Cup. Players can relate to them, build relationships with them and create a team dynamic. For them, the team always comes first.”
Sylvain Lefebvre, a former Hab returns to the bench in the AHL but this time as part of the Canadiens’ staff. Lefebvre held the role of an assistant coach for the last three years with the Colorado Avalanche alongside Joe Sacco. Lefebvre stated the importance of developing the younger players in the Montreal organization. “I’m a communicator and also a coach that likes to teach. From a development standpoint, I think I have a good understanding of the work that needs to be done. I have kids that are the same age as the guys that I’m going to be coaching, so that helps give me an idea of what their experience is like. I’m the type of person who can be strict, but I also like to think that I’m fair with everybody at the same time.”
He later talked about leaving the Colorado Avalanche organization. “It’s tough for me to leave the Avalanche, but to be able to join the Canadiens’ organization and take this position in Hamilton, be part of building a great team there, and through that be able to help the Canadiens build theirs.”
Patrice Brisebois is back in Montreal, this time as the new player development coach. Brisebois played over 1,000 National Hockey league games, most of them with the Canadiens’ during his 16 NHL career. He talked about the importance of the growth and progression of the organization’s young players and what he looks to accomplish. “It used to be that the team would draft a player and then we’d only see them at development camps like this or at training camp. What we want now is to really be present and show those young players that we’re there. We want to see a progression and see them arrive as ready as they can possibly be to make the jump into the NHL, both physically and mentally.”
He added he wants player to spend the least amount of time in the AHL as possible, before they make the leap to the Canadiens’ roster. “It can take a year, two years, three years for a player to develop and the work that Martin and I are setting out to do is to not only make sure they get to the NHL as prepared as possible, but to also make sure that they spend the least amount of time possible in the minors.”
Martin Lapointe joins the Canadiens’ front office as the new director of player development. He stated his role is to keep in touch with the players as they progress to the NHL. “My role with the team will be to help the prospects make the jump from the juniors to the NHL as quickly as possible. We want to stay in close touch with them.”
He talked about the difference between who players and coaches communicate since he first entered the league. “When I was starting out, I went to my first training camp and no one even talked to me. Not even the coaches – I was basically left alone. We want the opposite of that, where can talk with them, help them, share experiences and facilitate their development as much as possible.”
Following these additions to the coach staff, the Montreal Canadiens’ front office still has a lot of work left to be accomplished to return a contender to the ice. This includes locking up restricted free agents, Carey Price and young defenseman P.K. Subban.