BROSSARD – The Canadiens were greeted with unexpected news when they walked in the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Thursday morning. Team owner and president, Geoff Molson announced to the players that Pierre Gauthier had been releived of his duties just before they stepped onto the ice for their morning practice. With another five games to go, the Habs are on the hunt for better results - as is Molson.
Canadiens captain Brian Gionta awaited the sea of journalist as the doors to the locker room opened.
“When he came in, he just announced his decision and told us where the organisation wants to go,” explained Gionta who’s been sidelined with an upper-body injury since Jan. 10. “Obviously we’re committed to winning and everyone is disappointed in the year. It was a move he felt was right.”
Like most players who made the choice to wear the bleu-blanc-rouge, Gionta is dedicated to continuing to honor the club's history.
“That’s why a lot of us came here a few years back: it was the dedication to winning. Obviously the guys in the room are happy the ownership puts an emphasis on winning,” shared the captain. “That’s why guys come here, it’s to be part of a winning team and part of that history; you’re part of the Montreal Canadiens. Unfortunately, we didn’t live up to the expectations this year.
“When a team isn’t successful, changes are made,” said Mathieu Darche when asked about his opinion on the day’s top news. “We need to go forward from here and we support Mr. Molson 100%. You could see in his press conference that he has got the team’s success at heart. We’re all to blame; it’s really up to us to bring the team in the right direction.”
It was Pierre Gauthier and Jacques Martin who had given Darche his chance with the Canadiens back in 2009.
“I’m grateful for the chance they gave me. Sometimes you need someone to open up a door for you, but it’s really up to you to make yourself stand out,” expressed the 35-year-old.
Geoff Molson also took the opportunity to announce that Bob Gainey would be stepping down from his position as advisor, a position he has held since Pierre Gauthier was appointed GM in February 2010.
“It’s tough to see him go too. I built up a good relationship with Gainey,” shared Josh Gorges. “I can’t say enough good things about him; he’s such a good man. He’s helped me even when I was not playing. He’s been an inspiration and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me.”
The news came as a shock for the whole locker room, as they had their mind set on the task ahead, which was to take on the No.1 team in the East, the New York Rangers.
“Obviously it’s a shock when something like this happens. We didn’t see it coming this morning,” said Tomas Plekanec who’s been in the Canadiens organisation since being drafted in 2001. “Our job is to get ready for what’s next. It’s been tough the whole year; it wasn’t a good year for the players. We also need get ready for next year and prevent those things from happening again.”
Montreal’s interim head coach, Randy Cunneyworth, has his eyes set on finishing off the season in the best possible way.
“We have to play our best hockey for all the reasons: personal and team,” expressed Cunneyworth in the Canadiens locker room. “This is a city and a team that has an incredible amount of history. Going forward, I think you always want to play your best, no matter what the circumstances are.
“My focus is on the five games left and we have to look good out there. We’re going to ask the players to bring their best,” he concluded.
The Canadiens hopped on a plane headed to the Big Apple after the media frenzy to get ready for their Friday night tilt against the Rangers, before continuing on to Washington for a date with the Capitals.
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