If Bob Gainey, once called the best player in the world by Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov
and a five-time Stanley Cup winner as a player with the Montreal Canadiens
, still wanted the spotlight he could certainly command it.
But, aside from stepping behind the bench to coach the alumni of the Canadiens against the Calgary Flames
at McMahon Stadium on Saturday, Gainey is content in the background as special advisor to Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier.
"I don't see that now," Gainey said, asked he foresees returning to a role as a coach or manager. "No, I'm content in what I'm doing.
"I'm happy that I'm still involved with the Montreal Canadiens
and I appreciate that opportunity. At this point, I really don't see it. I don't have this need or craving to participate in a bigger, more responsible way."
Gainey stepped down as GM of the Canadiens in February of 2010 for personal reasons.
"It was a big change," Gainey said. "My day-to-day responsibilities and my day-to-day habits changed. I had a lot more freedom and a lot more time, which I enjoyed. I happily joined in with the Canadiens late last season and through the playoffs and got to participate with the team in a different way but still participate with the team in a positive part of their year.
"I don't travel too much. This is one of the very few times I've been on the road with the team, but I see quite a few home games. I've stayed in touch and up-to-date with the (AHL) team in Hamilton so I can speak to Pierre with an idea of all the players in the organization."
Captain of the Canadiens from 1981-89, the recipient of the Frank Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward four times and with his No. 23 jersey retired by the Habs in 2008, it goes without saying that Gainey is revered in Montreal and that his legacy is secure.
Gainey couldn't, however, resist stepping behind the bench alongside former teammates Ryan Walter
and Rejean Houle
to coach against the Flames, who beat Montreal in six games to win the 1989 Stanley Cup.
"I understood that the focus of today's alumni game was based on the late-1980s Calgary-Montreal rivalry where we had a couple of head-to-heads in the finals," Gainey said. "I had good memories and good times with the group of players I was with in Montreal in the late-1980s.
"I'm glad Calgary went ahead and put this in place, and the NHL went ahead. It's a festive kind of a day. It's a fun kind of day. It's a reunion of people from a different era."