Thursday, May 24, 2012
Habs Hires Update
Well, the coaching situation appears to be at a standstill. Darren Dreger on TSN Sporscentre last night indicated that there is no clear frontrunner for the position at this time, though he did mention the widely speculated names of Marc Crawford, Bob Hartley, and Michel Therrien. One hold-up could be that Gerard Gallant, a popular candidate and my personal choice, is still currently coaching the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup, meaning any interviews with him would likely still be a few days away. The caveat with Gallant is that he doesn't really speak French, though he can understand a fair bit after coaching several seasons in the QMJHL.
There is some movement on other fronts, however. Thanks to Twitter follower @HabsLinks, an article HERE has confirmed today that the Canadiens have hired Bobby Kinsella (pictured at left) as a new scout for the mid-western United States. He will be based in Chicago, covering primarily the USHL, but also the NCAA, and top-tiered high school and midget programs. Prior to this move, the Habs had Ryan Jankowski scouting both western Canada and the western U.S.A., while also having Pat Westrum focused on amateur scouting in the west of the U.S. No indication as of yet how the hiring of Kinsella will impact the geographic coverage, but adding additional scouts was one of Bergevin's missions from day 1, and will likely only help Montreal at the draft table moving forward. I suspect the move will be good for Canadian scouting as well, with one likely option being that Jankowski now devote all of his energies just to the WHL, though Elmer Benning currently has that focus as well.
Kinsella most recently served as both Assistant Coach and Director of Scouting for the Dubuque Fighting Saints. There are some interesting ties here, as the team's General Manager and Head Coach is former Hab Jim Montgomery, and the club just selected top 2012 prospect Mark Jankowski - nephew of the aforemention Hab scout Ryan - in the USHL entry draft. (Might Kinsella push for the team to take Mark at pick 33?) Moreover, Kinsella spent five years as an Assistant Coach and Scout with the Sioux City Musketeers, one of which was during Max Pacioretty's season there in 2006-07 just prior to his selection by the Canadiens. In between these two stints, Kinsella also spent two seasons as Head Coach and GM of the Boston Junior Rangers, a Midget AAA-U18 club, so all in all, he seems to be a good hockey person well experienced at working with and watching younger talent, while still young himself with room to grow in the organization at age 37.
A bit of news announced yesterday was that Scott Mellanby was stepping down from his role as Assistant Coach with the St. Louis Blues to pursue other opportunities, stating that his hear was in hockey operations rather than coaching. TSN's Bob McKenzie was quick to Tweet that it wouldn't be a surprise if Mellanby - a Montreal native who speaks at least a bit of French - surfaces as one of Marc Bergevin's Assistants in Montreal. After completing his playing career of over 1,400 games in 2006-07, Mellanby worked for three seasons as a Scout and Special Consultant to the GM with the Vancouver Canucks, before moving on to spend the last two seasons behind the bench in St. Louis. Given his relative inexperience, it would be interesting to see what kind of role Montreal might offer him and what this means for Rick Dudley joining the organization - a process that appears mysteriously stalled, though the team might simply be opting to wait until after the draft to avoid any accusations of tampering (though Dreger Tweeted this morning that it is likely to happen prior to draft day). One likely scenario is that if both are to join the organization, Mellanby might gain experience by being tabbed GM of the Hamilton Bulldogs, while Dudley would cover Pro Scouting.
These are the names being thrown around as of today, but the talk is only likely to intensify as we move towards the draft and July 1st, or particularly as Bergevin has had more days on the job. Whatever the case, with more and more negative perceptions of the old Gauthier / Gainey / Martin regime coming out all the time, all of these new names are a breath of fresh air.