MONTREAL – Over the course of his 20 years as an NHL player, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin built countless friendships across the League.
On Monday, Bergevin brought one of those friends on board with the Habs – and it's been a long time coming.
The Canadiens announced Monday the hiring of Scott Mellanby as the team's director of player personnel, prying the former 21-year veteran player away from his job as an assistant coach for the St. Louis Blues.
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Mellanby and Bergevin played together for the Blues in 2001-02 and remained friends through the years. So when Mellanby retired in 2007 and Bergevin was looking for a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, he gave his old friend a call.
But Mellanby wasn't ready to jump right into a hockey job so soon after retiring as a player, so he turned the opportunity down.
"But we've always talked about the opportunity to work together," Mellanby told reporters Monday.
Five years later, it happened.
Mellanby arrives in Montreal with a toolbox of different skills acquired by working as special advisor to Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis in 2008-09 and as a professional scout for the Canucks in 2009-10. On June 1, 2010, he returned to the Blues as an assistant coach, a position he held the last two seasons.
But with his contract due for renewal, Mellanby wanted to get away from the grind of coaching, saying he didn't have the same passion for that job as he did for talent evaluation in a front office position.
Born in Montreal and growing up as a big fan of the Canadiens, when Bergevin called, it was a no brainer for Mellanby.
"It's an honor for me to be a part of the Canadiens organization. I grew up idolizing the Canadiens and Guy Lafleur in particular,” said Mellanby, who moved to Toronto when he was 6, but still kept his allegiance to Montreal.
Mellanby could not get into specifics of what exactly his job will be, but he says his main task will be to keep an eye on the organization's prospects and formulating a plan for how to get them playing in Montreal as soon as possible.
The hiring of Mellanby comes three days following that of assistant general manager Rick Dudley on Friday, a day when Bergevin insisted he will continue to look for "good hockey people" to surround himself with.
He clearly feels Mellanby fits that description.
"Scott has an impressive background and a commanding knowledge of the League, having played for 21 seasons in the NHL before holding various management positions over the last four years," Bergevin said in a statement. "Scott is known for his character and his leadership, which made him a great team captain during six seasons with the Florida Panthers and the Atlanta Thrashers. He has extensive knowledge of the game, is well respected in hockey circles and will become an important asset for our organization."
Mellanby is convinced his new boss will succeed as a general manager.
"Marc's done the work, he knows the players," he said. "Marc is a guy who develops relationships; people like the guy … and this is a big relationship business."
While Mellanby was ready to leave the Blues bench, it looked as though the players he left behind weren't very enthusiastic to see him go, at least based on some of their reactions on Twitter.
"Very sad to see @mellanby19 [Mellanby's Twitter handle] leave the coaching staff, a true professional & leader who taught me so much in 2 years, can't thank you enough!" forward David Perron tweeted when Mellanby's departure was announced May 23.
"I want to wish @mellanby19 the best of luck as he moves on. It's not every day that you run into great coaches. Thank you for all the help!" was defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk's reaction.
"Very Sorry to see @mellanby19 leave the Blues," tweeted goaltender Brian Elliott. "Great coach and former [Wisconsin] badger ... can't get any better than that. Good luck with everything."
Just five days later, Mellanby's luck landed him in Montreal -- with an old friend as his new boss.