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Sports: Stu Cowan: Habs take first steps in getting franchise back on track

Game Day Notebook: Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher will play 600th game

  Game Day Notebook: Canadiens' Brendan Gallagher will play 600th game Brendan Gallagher will play his 600th career NHL game with the Canadiens Thursday when the Pittsburgh Penguins are the visitors at the Bell Centre (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Gallagher has experienced many ups and downs during his 10 seasons with the Canadiens. There was the high of making it to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in his career last season, followed by the low this season with the Canadiens getting off to a 4-12-2 start and sitting in 29th place in the overall NHL standings heading into Thursday night’s game.

I guess enough was finally enough for Geoff Molson and the Canadiens’ ownership group.

Geoff Molson smiling for the camera: Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson, seen in a file photo, will hold a news conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday at 11 a.m. © Provided by The Gazette Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson, seen in a file photo, will hold a news conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday at 11 a.m.

The Canadiens owner/president announced in a statement Sunday that general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant GM Trevor Timmins and Paul Wilson, the senior vice-president in charge of public affairs and communications, have all “been relieved of their duties.”

That’s a polite way of saying they were fired.

A 6-3 win over the Penguins Saturday in Pittsburgh wasn’t enough to make Molson delay his decision with the Canadiens off to their worst start in franchise history and sitting in 29th place in the overall NHL standings with a 6-15-2 record and a 0.1 per cent chance of making the playoffs, according to Sportsclubstats.com . The Canadiens haven’t been able to win two games in a row all season.

Devils claim Nathan Bastian off waivers from Kraken

  Devils claim Nathan Bastian off waivers from Kraken Welcome back, Nathan. The New Jersey Devils have claimed Nathan Bastian off waivers from the Seattle Kraken, bringing back the player they lost in the expansion draft. © Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports Bastian, 23, never seemed like a player that would make it through waivers, given the mix of size, draft pedigree and relative youth that he brings. A second-round pick in 2016, he played 41 games for the Devils last season, scoring ten points and forming a nice line with longtime teammate Michael McLeod.

Molson also announced that former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has been hired as executive vice-president of hockey operations “to assure the continuity of the day-to-day hockey operations during this process.”

That process will probably include the search for a bilingual GM to replace Bergevin. Molson has made it clear in the past that he wants his GM and head coach to both be bilingual.

It certainly looks like Molson will be taking a step back in his control over hockey operations after Bergevin was reporting directly to him. You have to wonder if that was Molson’s choice, or if he was pressured to do so by other members of the ownership group with the wheels falling off the franchise only four months after advancing to the Stanley Cup final.

Canadiens Notebook: Coach says players are working 'the wrong way'

  Canadiens Notebook: Coach says players are working 'the wrong way' Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme believes his players are working hard enough, they’re just not working the right way. “I don’t think last night that we didn’t work, but worked the wrong way,” Ducharme said Thursday in Buffalo after the Canadiens dropped a 6-3 decision to the Capitals Wednesday night in Washington. “That’s where you look bad. It wasn’t good because you’re not in the right spot or you’re not doing your job, but you’re working and sometimes it snowballs so that you’re working but in the wrong way. That you’re working for almost nothing and you get out of position. “That first guy misses doing his job, now you need to jump in,” the coach added.

That’s one of the questions Molson can be asked at 11 a.m. Monday when he holds a news conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard.

When Molson was asked last year about not having a director of hockey operations, he said: “I have no intention to hire another president of hockey. There are very few teams across the NHL that do so and there are a lot of reasons why. Marc is one of the most respected GMs in hockey. He is also now among the most experienced and he will continue to report to me. He is very well surrounded by people with a lot of experience, including — without naming everyone — people like Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe and John Sedgwick. There is a culture team-wide, and surrounding Marc, to never be afraid to question the decisions we take.”

Mellanby resigned as assistant GM on Saturday , while Lapointe (director of player personnel and amateur scouting) and Sedgwick (vice-president of hockey operations and legal affairs) remain with the team.

Sabres sign former first-round pick Mark Jankowski to one-year deal

  Sabres sign former first-round pick Mark Jankowski to one-year deal The Buffalo Sabres on Sunday signed forward Mark Jankowski to a one-year, $750,000 contract.Up to this point, Jankowski was on an AHL deal with the Americans after being cut from a professional tryout contract with the New Jersey Devils during training camp. Jankowski’s enjoyed offensive success this season, along with many other Rochester players, scoring five goals and seven assists in 13 games.

Monday will be the first time fans and media will hear from Molson since the Canadiens’ highly controversial decision to select Logan Mailloux in the first round of the NHL Draft in July.

It was surprising the Canadiens would make a draft pick that would draw so much negative attention after building up such a positive vibe en route to the Stanley Cup Final. It was even more surprising the Canadiens didn’t seem prepared at all for the negative reaction to drafting Mailloux, who was charged with defamation and offensive photography in Sweden after secretly photographing a woman engaged in a sexual act with him and then sharing the picture and her identity with his SK Lejon teammates. Mailloux had renounced himself from the draft, saying he didn’t deserve to be selected, but the Canadiens still picked him.

A day after drafting Mailloux, Timmins still wasn’t prepared to answer questions about the decision — and part of that has to fall on Wilson. There was 20 seconds of silence from Timmins after he was asked why the Canadiens believed Mailloux earned the right to be drafted when the player himself didn’t.

Stu Cowan: Canadiens might benefit from a simpler on-ice system

  Stu Cowan: Canadiens might benefit from a simpler on-ice system The Canadiens look like a team that’s thinking too much and playing too little. They also looked that way last season after Dominique Ducharme took over from Claude Julien as head coach and worked to implement his new system without much practice time because of the condensed schedule caused by the pandemic. The Canadiens went 15-16-7 while finishing the regular season with Ducharme in charge. They fell behind three games to one to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs before the system finally started to click and they went all the way to the Stanley Cup final before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Timmins did say Molson signed off on the decision to draft Mailloux, noting: “Geoff Molson’s aware of everything that goes on in our organization and this was a hockey decision and we’ll leave it at that.”

Molson waited five days after the draft before finally making a statement about the decision to draft Mailloux and then hand-picked a small group of reporters who would be invited to ask him questions on a Zoom conference. Again, some of that decision has to fall on Wilson, along with the decision to have Bergevin only give selected journalists one-on-one interviews last weekend.

It will be interesting to see if there’s more transparency with the Canadiens moving forward.

It seems like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the Canadiens since the Stanley Cup Final, starting with the draft and including captain Shea Weber’s career probably coming to an end because of injuries, Carey Price entering the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program for substance use after having off-season knee surgery, Joel Edmundson being sidelined since the start of training camp with an undisclosed injury, along with the loss of players like Phillip Danault and Corey Perry, who played key roles during the playoff run.

There are a lot of things for the Canadiens to fix to get this franchise back on track.

The first steps were taken Sunday.

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Game Day Notebook: Jesse Ylönen latest player called up by Canadiens .
Jesse Ylönen, come on down! Or make that, come on up! Ylönen is the latest player to be called up from the AHL’s Laval Rocket by the Canadiens because of a growing injury list and the 22-year-old right-winger will be in the lineup Thursday at the Bell Centre against the Chicago Blackhawks (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). The Canadiens selected Ylönen in the second round (35th overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft. In 17 games with the Rocket this season, Ylönen has 4-10-14 totals. He has only played one previous game in the NHL last season. Ylönen will take Christian Dvorak’s spot in the lineup.

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