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Bergevin puts finishing touches on Habs' front office

Wednesday, 06.13.2012 / 9:14 AM / News

By Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Que. -- When Marc Bergevin was hired as Montreal Canadiens general manager, he said he wanted to change the culture surrounding the team -- to create a sense of teamwork with good hockey people supporting him in his job.

Six weeks later, Bergevin completed that process when it comes to building his front office staff -- and it's a much bigger team than the one that managed the Canadiens the past few years.

After Bergevin came aboard, he hired Rick Dudley as assistant GM, Scott Mellanby as director of player personnel, Michel Therrien as coach; on Tuesday he put the finishing touches on his staff with the announcement that Martin Lapointe will be director of player development, Patrice Brisebois will be a player development coach and Sylvain Lefebvre will be the new coach of the team's AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Compared with the previous regime of Pierre Gauthier, Bergevin has added an additional assistant GM (keeping Larry Carriere in that role as well) and has created three front office positions that didn't exist before.

"If I'm bringing in all these people, they're not window dressing," Bergevin said. "I obviously believe these people have something to offer."

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Tuesday's hiring of Lapointe and Brisebois -- two former players with exactly 2,000 games of NHL experience between them -- to fill player development roles completes the process of removing that responsibility from Trevor Timmins, who will now focus solely on heading the team's amateur scouting and the draft.

Bergevin explained that Mellanby's role will be to oversee pro scouting, while Lapointe will be in charge of easing the transition of the team's prospects from the junior or collegiate ranks to the Canadiens. Brisebois will specifically work with the team's young defensemen.

"The biggest thing I've learned with kids turning pro is they just don't know what it takes," Bergevin said. "It's not that they don't want to do it, they just don't know. So if we can speed that process along, it will make us a better organization."

The lone remaining hires left will be for Therrien to select his coaching staff, but even that appears to be on the horizon.

Lefebvre will be replacing Clement Jodoin as coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, and Jodoin was an assistant on Therrien's staff when he first coached the Canadiens from 2000-02. Jodoin is scheduled to meet with Therrien later this week, but Bergevin strongly hinted that will be more of a formality than anything else.

"Michel is very comfortable with Clement," Bergevin said.

Lapointe is a former pro scout with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he worked with Bergevin. He said he will work with Lefebvre and Brisebois to discuss the development of the team's players, and will also travel to see Canadiens prospects in the junior and collegiate ranks.

"Between the two of us, we have some good baggage," Lapointe said of his relationship with Brisebois. "We just want to make it easier for the young kids coming up. I know at my first training camp, no one talked to me. So I think the Canadiens are going in a new direction."

Lapointe has an arena named after him where the Canadiens used to occasionally practice before their suburban training facility was built, so even though he's never played in Montreal he understands quite well what it takes to play for the storied franchise.

However, perhaps no one is as aware of the peculiarities associated with playing for the Canadiens more than Brisebois, who played 16 of his 18 NHL seasons in Montreal and had a love/hate relationship with both the fans and the media the entire time, going from winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie to being booed regularly during home games later in his career.

With promising young defensemen like Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu and Morgan Ellis all turning pro next season, it will be Brisebois' responsibility to get them ready to make the jump to the NHL as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

"It's not pressure, I know what I'm capable of," said Brisebois, 41, who is taking his first job in hockey since retiring as a player in 2009. "It's my job to really give them the right tools for them to succeed."

As for Lefebvre, he leaves the Colorado Avalanche organization after five seasons as an assistant coach, two in the AHL and the last three in Colorado under Joe Sacco.

Bergevin said the fact he is bringing in two former NHL defensemen in Brisebois and Lefebvre to work with the team's prospects was not a coincidence.

"I've been doing the job with defensemen in Colorado the past three years," Lefebvre said. "It's something I'm passionate about. When you see a player succeed and become a good NHL player, it's a very good feeling."

Bergevin hopes Lefebvre is able to have those good feelings on a regular basis over the coming years.

I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game