Martin St-Louis is clear in his message: "I don't know yet what our team will look like in September. There's the draft, there's the unrestricted free agent market, in short, a lot of changes could happen, but what's most important is the development of our young players and also to establish the culture of the organization. »
Several times he returned to the subject. During his press briefing, he prepared the ground. He was careful not to dwell on expectations for the next season. Instead, he focused the discussion on younger players.
St-Louis quickly learned to deal with the media. Yet, as a player, he liked to stay away from members of the press.
"Let's just say now it's different. Regularly meeting with media people is included in the job descriptions. »
And, quickly, he captured the attention by making particular remarks, with explanations which surprise because they do not belong to the clichés of professional hockey.
Respect for tradition
And when he talks about culture, it is the centerpiece of the operation.
We want the team to bring together players who will respect tradition, who will understand the importance of the market in which the Canadiens are evolving, players who will show passion, who will want to improve, skaters on whom we will build a solid.
It is for this reason that St-Louis insists that he has always fueled the victory. But, that we also had to be realistic. "We develop players with wins, but defeat can also contribute to development, let's not forget that. St-Louis is under no illusions especially that the organization has a long way to go before it can compete at the same level as the powerhouses of the league. He can still dream of the playoffs for next year, but again, that's dreaming in color. The objective of the company remains culture and to achieve this, we will have to bet every day on the development of young skaters.
He knows the issue well. Moreover, he specifies that he did not demand changes or even new staff during the negotiations of his agreement. That's the job of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes.
"When you play cards, you have to deal with the ones you've been given. Sometimes you can achieve beautiful things, who knows. It is not written that it is always the best hand that wins. »
Gorton and Hughes will provide him with skaters, he knows most of those who will make up the next edition but it is expected that the two CH decision-makers, if they manage to give more flexibility to their payroll, will give their coach the opportunity to achieve goals faster than expected.
Relaunch of the organization
But, again, we must remember a comment from Hughes about the first choice of the Canadian: "We will not choose an athlete for a season... but a skater who can greatly contribute to the revival of the organization. »
A heavy challenge for the three new leaders of the team.
At first glance, fans understand very well the situation in which the Canadiens find themselves. Formerly, as Serge Savard had often repeated, the Canadian was condemned to win. This does not currently apply.
The business model
I am well aware that in professional sport, only results count.
On the other hand, it is necessary to have a solid business model to regain the confidence of amateurs. When a formation finishes last in the general classification, it must have a plan. Gorton knows this very well and today, as he prepares for the next season with Kent Hughes, he can only rejoice in the successes of Rangers. After all, didn't he prepare the organization's recovery plan?
We rely heavily on St-Louis to apply the new philosophy of the company. On the one hand, because his vision in the art of leading a group of 23 players is new and he quickly convinced the players to embark on the adventure.
And, last year, the team's veterans were quick to buy into their new coach's concept. This is already a promising start.
That he was granted a three-year contract may seem surprising in the sense that a five-year agreement was planned. But let's not forget that we always remain in the unknown. This is the first time he will manage the team on an 82-game schedule. However, the team's performances last year confirmed that he has what it takes to be a top manager.
He has three years to achieve his goals. He too, like the players, will progress in a function he has learned to know in such a short time.
This is a wise choice...