The new face of the Montreal Canadiens.
During the course of the last few days, the General Manager, Bob Gainey, transformed the Montreal Canadiens roster.
The transformation began during the 2009 NHL entry draft. Gainey and his staff decided to draft some local talent, something that the Habs fans have been demanding for many years. Louis Leblanc, a solid young 18 year old center, became the Canadiens' first round pick. Then in the fifth round another local junior player was picked. Gabriel Dumont from the 2009 Memorial Cup semifinalists Voltigeurs de Drummondville, was chosen.
I can't precisely remember who was the last Quebec native player to be chosen during the first round by the Habs. And don't ask me when was the last time the Habs chose two of them during the same year. It feels like almost fifty years ago.
The Canadiens' choices overall pleased the fans but the transformation was far from over. The Canadiens had to deal with more than ten regular players without a contract at July 1st. Bob Gainey offered a contract to Mike Komisarek and Alex Kovalev before the deadline.
Komisarek rejected Gainey's offer and signed a five year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs instead. The defense men obviously wanted to go away from Montreal for some reason. A big mistake in my opinion. As for Kovalev, he decided to play a game of poker and lost his bet. On July 1st, Kovy didn't accept the deal hoping to get a better offer from Bob Gainey. The General Manager turned around and decided to sign a contract with forwards Brian Gionta and Mike Cammallari, and to defense men Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek.
Bob Gainey also traded Christopher Higgins to the New York Rangers for Scott Gomez before July 1st. A total of five new players in only a couple of days, a clean house more or less.
Many questions are still to be answered. This is a hot summer in Montreal for the members of the press. Questions such as: Who will be the team Captain for next season? and Will Gainey try to acquire Vincent Lecavalier once more? Is there any more free agent of any interest for the Habs? will ring in the General Manager's head all summer long.
The Montreal Canadiens will show a brand new face at the first game of the regular season. With that many new players on the roster and a brand new head coach, the Habs will have to learn to work together and create a chemistry quickly.
(Picture: Louis Leblanc and Trevor Timmins, Getty images.)