Montreal Canadiens: Habs’ Goalie Coach Pierre Groulx does not receive contract renewal; Candidates a plenty
Carey Price – Nick Laham/ Getty Images
By James Stephan (@J_Habs)
On Monday June 3rd Montreal Canadiens goalie coach Pierre Groulx was informed by GM Marc Bergevin that the club would not be renewing his contract.
Following a swift and disappointing first round exit to the Ottawa Senators the Canadiens have been searching for answers as netminder Carey Price did not play up to expectations averaging .892% save percentage and 3.26 goals against average in four playoff games. Price’s disappointment with his own play echoed through the halls of the Bell Center as questions began to surface if the young goaltender was overwhelmed by the pressure in Montreal.
I feel like a Hobbit in a Hole – Carey Price
During the end of season press conference the Canadiens’ general manager was quick to silence the criticism surrounding Price’s comments.
Goaltending’s a difficult position, very demanding. So it’s normal that a young player feels pressure.
I believe in him. We will support him and we’ll help him. We’ll do everything we can to make sure he gets through this stage – Marc Bergevin
After giving Price a strong vote of confidence Bergevin made a difficult choice by releasing goalie coach Pierre Groulx, who was hired in 2009 by former GM Bob Gainey.
Bergevin faces an even tougher challenge ahead of him as he searches for a new goalie coach to work with Price. Carey’s off-season goalie coach Eli Wilson has been rumored to be on the Canadiens’ shortlist, however when asked about the situation on TSN690 Wilson declined to comment.
A name that has been speculated for the goaltending coach position is Stéphane Waite of the Chicago Blackhawks, who’s contract if not renewed would expire June 30th. Vincent Riendeau of the Hamilton Bulldogs, and former Calgary Flames goalie coach David Marcoux are also amongst the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching position; Riendeau who was hired in 2012 by Marc Bergevin, will certainly get some consideration to replace Pierre Groulx, however many would argue that due to the rich crop of candidates available, Riendeau isn’t likely to be the first choice.
David Marcoux who teaches at the David Marcoux’s School of Goaltending has worked with the likes of Miikka Kiprusoff, James Reimer and Cam Ward, and would be more than qualified to take on the Montreal coaching position. Many would argue that it is a three legged race between Wilson, Waite and Marcoux.
McKeen’s Hockey scout Rick Springhetti suggested two names that may come as a surprise –
Jeff Hackett and Ron Tugnutt are 2 former Habs goaltenders and former goalie coaches that are looking for work right now – McKeen’s Hockey Scout, Rick Springhetti
The thought of adding two Canadiens alumni to the mix of such a rich pool of candidates would make any general manager giddy with excitement. A player of Hackett or Tugnutt’s stature would add an element to the mix that other goaltending coaches may not be able to offer, which is the ability to play in an ultra-high pressure market, where every mistake is scrutinized, and the only play acceptable is perfection. Carey Price would benefit greatly from their wisdom and experience and Marc Bergevin won’t turn a blind eye to the pressure Price faces; the hiring of one of the ex-Habs netminders may be exactly what the doctor ordered.
Price will no doubt be involved in the process of searching for a new coach, however it’s unclear just how involved the franchise netminder will be, if the choice is solely his, Eli Wilson may be the next goalie coach for the Montreal Canadiens very soon; one thing is certain the Canadiens will not waste time, and it would come as no surprise if a goaltending coach was selected before the NHL Entry Draft.