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Therrien, coaching staff will return for Canadiens

by Sean Farrell /

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on Friday assessed a Stanley Cup Playoff exit that left them short of their ultimate goal, and among the many things discussed, he said Michel Therrien and the coaching staff would return next season.

"What I can confirm is that Michel Therrien and his group of coaches did exceptional work this season, so I have no reason to make a change," Bergevin said.

Therrien coached the Canadiens to the Atlantic Division title and they defeated the Ottawa Senators in six games in the Eastern Conference First Round before they were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round in six games.

The Canadiens made the Eastern Conference Final in 2014 before losing to the New York Rangers in six games.

Therrien is 287-224-57 with 24 ties in the NHL; that includes two stints with the Canadiens. He coached the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005-09, leading them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2008.

Dan Lacroix, Clement Jodoin, Jean-Jacques Daigneault are the assistant coaches. Stephane Waite is the goaltending coach.

"You look at the Boston Bruins, who won the Presidents' Trophy last year, they didn't make the playoffs. The [Los Angeles] Kings, they won the Stanley Cup two of the last three years, they did not make the postseason," Bergevin said. "It's a tough League, it's a hard League, it's a fine line between getting in, winning a round, winning a second round, so I feel our team is a good hockey team and still pretty young, and next year our goal will be the same.

"Our first goal will be to make the playoffs. There's good teams that did not make the playoffs. When we finished playing there were eight teams left, so there are 22 teams that wish they were where we were. So overall there are a lot more positives, but we're going to keep building, we're going to keep drafting well, we're going to keep developing our young players and looking at the big picture down the road."

Among the other topics discussed was Montreal's need for a No. 1 center.

"My reality, it might not be the same as the PlayStation that I play at night," Bergevin said. "I did play it [Thursday] night; I made a trade, and I called a GM [Friday] morning and he hung up the phone on me."

Bergevin also discussed the approach to building a Stanley Cup champion taken by the Chicago Blackhawks, where he began his off-ice career.

"In Chicago, we had the privilege of drafting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. That helps," Bergevin said.

Three years into his tenure with Montreal, Bergevin spoke about continuing along the course he has taken in remaking the Canadiens' image.

"We have some good players," Bergevin said. "Our strength is our defense, our goaltender, and we keep trying to get better and add players and slowly but surely go in the right direction. I think we have gone in the right direction the last two years, but it is a good question because you talk to other GMs in the League and they all want that big centerman everybody's looking for, they're just not available."

Goalie Carey Price is a finalist for the Hart and Vezina trophies and the Ted Lindsay Award, and he shared the William Jennings Trophy with Chicago's Corey Crawford. Defenseman P.K. Subban is a second-time finalist for the Norris Trophy, which he won in 2012-13. Left wing Max Pacioretty led Montreal with 37 goals and 67 points.

"I think our core is very good and we have to build around it," Bergevin said.

Price, 27, is the de facto leader on a team that didn't have a captain but won 50 games and finished second in the League with 110 points. Subban and Pacioretty, each 26, were alternate captains for the first time along with defenseman Andrei Markov and center Tomas Plekanec.

Bergevin said he did not think the absence of a captain hurt the team.

"Looking back, I thought our leadership group did very well," Bergevin said. "We finished second overall, so I thought the guys did a really good job that way."

Bergevin said he would like to re-sign defenseman Jeff Petry and forward Torrey Mitchell, who the Canadiens acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline.

"Jeff Petry is a priority for us," Bergevin said. "I think he fits perfectly with our team. He played some big minutes for us. We'd like to bring Torrey Mitchell back, if we can. Everything will depend on working within the salary cap."

Repeatedly asked if left wing Alex Galchenyuk would move to center, Bergevin would not say that was a formality.

"I cannot answer that but as we speak right now; he's more comfortable on the wing and this year he had 20 goals, so as a third-year pro I think he's going in the right direction," Bergevin said.

Bergevin said defensemen Sergei Gonchar and Mike Weaver, and center Manny Malhotra will not return next season.

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