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Man on a mission

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – With the regular season winding down and the playoffs right around the corner, Bob Gainey knows that now is the time for his Habs to make their charge. That’s why he will be on the ice, whistle in hand wearing his skates Tuesday morning at practice.

“My reflection began on Saturday,” began Gainey. “I contacted my president about the possibility and changed my travel plans and decided not to attend the GM meetings in Florida. I instead opted to watch our game attentively on Sunday and I made my decision this morning.”

Just as he did in January of 2006 when he relieved Claude Julien of his coaching duties, Gainey called his own number and will take the reins for the rest of the season. The Habs’ GM has no intention of starting from scratch, but he is expecting to make a few adjustments.

“The difference will not be black and white,” predicted Gainey. “I think we can definitely do better defensively. We must spend less time in our own zone. I will go over a few possibilities with our coaching staff.”

Joining Gainey behind the Habs’ bench will be Don Lever, the longtime coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, who led the Canadiens affiliate to a Calder Cup title in 2007.

“Don will provide us with a new voice, a fresh outlook,” explained Gainey. “He brings a proven connection with our young players he has already coached. He should be able to push the right buttons and help our youngsters to reach their full potential.”

Less than 24 hours from his latest coaching debut, Gainey is hoping for a few immediate improvements beginning as early as tomorrow night against the Oilers.

“I also believe we can be much more consistent as a group from period to period and from game to game,” said Gainey. “Our performances over the past eight weeks have been below average. We need to perform better especially against teams which we are superior to on paper. The responsibility for a player to reach their potential is not up solely to the coach, but the player as well. We’ll make sure of that.”

Manny Almela is a writer for

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