BROSSARD – The Canadiens proved a lot of things to a lot of people in recent weeks, including their coach and GM.
“Seeing what they accomplished as group I think has made us appreciate our team more than ever,” admitted Habs general manager Pierre Gauthier. “This was a new team with a new coach and I think we all got to know them this year.”
“The way our players came together as the season went on and into the playoffs is a real testament to the job that Jacques and his staff did this year,” continued Gauthier. “I said I liked our team at the trading deadline and that hasn’t changed. We feel like we’re truly a team here and a complete team effort is how we got as far as we did.”
The Habs’ Kumbaya/”it takes a village” approach to everything this season also spilled over to the club’s ongoing captaincy vacancy. Without a captain for the first time in the team’s 100-year history, the Habs didn’t miss a beat, reaching the conference finals for the first time in almost two decades.
“I think our team leaders did a fantastic job this year,” said Martin, while tip-toeing around admitting if the Habs would unveil a captain in the coming months. “We will discuss that this summer and it will be a choice made by the organization. I think our three assistants worked well for us and we got to see lot from our players this year and if we decide to name a captain we’ll do that.”
Like any offseason, the Canadiens have a few decisions to make. While nothing quite as daunting as last summer’s 11 unrestricted free agents, the Habs do have UFA-to-be Tomas Plekanec
to tend to. After hearing his head coach gush about the versatility Plekanec brings to the rink every night, Gauthier deferred back to Martin when pressed for juicy details about Pleky’s future in Montreal.
“You heard it: the coach likes the player,” said Gauthier with a smile. “I spoke with his agent Rick Curran after last night’s game and we agreed to keep talking about Tomas’ future.”
Aware of what needs to be done, Gauthier channeled his inner Bob Gainey and kept his cards close to his vest.
“We made a lot of changes a year ago and we now have a really strong nucleus to build on, but we’re not about to tell our competitors what we’re planning to do, either,” said Gauthier. “We will sit down as an organization in the coming weeks to see how we’re going to improve our team. We will then put that plan into action as we look to put together the puzzle for next season.”
A big part of that puzzle remains the Habs’ strongest asset – goaltending. Both restricted free agents-to-be, playoff hero Jaroslav Halak and anointed Next One Carey Price
both want to play and the question remains: Is the Habs crease big enough for the two of them?
“I’ve said it before, we have two great young goalies that we really feel good about,” reiterated Gauthier as, he addressed the looming threat of an aggressive offer sheet potentially coming either Carey’s or Jaro’s way. “Our goalies are strong assets we would certainly protect. All options are open when it comes to our two goaltenders. We will do what’s best for them and best for the organization.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.See also:They said it: Goalies They said it: Forwards They said it: Defensemen The ride ends here