Sports: Lavandier ready to lay foundation for CEBL's Montreal Alliance

Officiating topics addressed at NHL GM meetings

  Officiating topics addressed at NHL GM meetings The GM meetings resumed for the first time since the pandemic started and kicked off with discussions about officiating.All 32 NHL GMs together in one room. Finally.

If the name Vincent Lavandier doesn’t resonate with Montreal basketball fans, the Alliance’s first head coach has no problems being an unknown quantity.

  Lavandier ready to lay foundation for CEBL's Montreal Alliance © Provided by The Gazette

“The most important thing isn’t me,” Lavandier, 50, told the Montreal Gazette recently during a video conference from his home near Angers, France. “The most important is the Alliance, the players, the fans. Not me.”

Nonetheless, the historical significance of being the first coach of the expansion team that will begin play next month in the Canadian Elite Basketball League , hasn’t been lost on Lavandier.

“When you’re the first coach of the franchise, it’s a big honour for me,” he said. “It’s not a lot of pressure. It’s a lot of pleasure. I want to write something (positive) about the future, but the present, too. I want to keep my name on this franchise.”

Zurkowsky: Gabriel Gervais a good choice to lead CF Montréal back to prominence

  Zurkowsky: Gabriel Gervais a good choice to lead CF Montréal back to prominence At age 45 and firmly entrenched as a partner in the Montreal office of Deloitte, CF Montréal owner Joey Saputo likely needed Gabriel Gervais — the club’s new president — more than the former defender required the perceived headache he has inherited. Gervais, who begins his new job next Monday, assumes control of a franchise winless in four MLS regular-season games — not necessarily his immediate problem — but one that took a public relations hit from the decision more than a year ago to rebrand the franchise , changing the name from Impact while devising a new logo that, quite frankly, looks like a snowflake.

The hiring of Lavandier, who has extensive experience coaching in Europe, was announced in early March by general manager Joel Anthony , a former NBA pro. Even Anthony knew little about Lavandier after a third party connected him with the coach’s agent.

Anthony, who led what he called an extensive coaching search, said he wanted a francophone with pro experience, leading him to focus on France, Belgium and Switzerland. Anthony said he could have potentially hired someone more recognizable, but liked the fact Lavandier had experience working in smaller markets with teams restricted to small budgets.

“The head coach is extremely important,” Anthony said Monday. “That’s your leader for that team, for those players while they’re on the court. Wanting to get that right was something that was very important to me. I had certain characteristics I was seeking; certain boxes that had to be checked.”

Bobby Brink, Dryden McKay, Ben Meyers named Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalists

  Bobby Brink, Dryden McKay, Ben Meyers named Hobey Baker Hat Trick Finalists The trophy is given to the top NCAA player in the country and has an impressive line of winners over the past few years. In 2014, Johnny Gaudreau took home the award as a junior for Boston College, followed by Jack Eichel in his only year for Boston University in 2015. Jimmy Vesey, Will Butcher and Adam Gaudette don’t bring quite the same impact but still became NHL regulars after winning from 2016-18. © George Walker IV-USA TODAY Sports Team USA forward Ben Meyers is up for college hockey's top individual honor.

Although all of their interviews were conducted via video conference, it became apparent to Anthony he and Lavandier had much in common. The chemistry between the two quickly became apparent. Lavandier, who has a sister in Laval, also had been contemplating a move to North America, according to Anthony.

“It became very apparent to me the type of fit he would be,” said Anthony, who played for four NBA franchises and captured consecutive titles with the Miami Heat. “I’d ask questions and he’d come back with answers within the (framework). I saw myself excited for this potential hire.

“He’s effective in player development and loves working with younger players. It seemed like it was meant to be.”

Related

Although much of Lavandier’s career has been spent in France, both as an assistant and head coach, he never has been averse to challenges or thinking outside the box. He spent 2007-08 as the head coach of Lagardère Paris in the women’s national 1 league. Then, more than a decade later, he left his homeland, becoming the head coach of the Glasgow Rocks of the British Basketball League, where he was named coach of the year after leading the team to the season title.

CF Montréal's Breza, teammates put Atlanta meltdown on back burner

  CF Montréal's Breza, teammates put Atlanta meltdown on back burner If the goal he allowed — a free kick from at least 30 yards in added time — wasn’t damning enough, the ensuing sight of his defenders berating CF Montréal goalkeeper Sebastian Breza potentially painted an ugly picture. While Breza said the shot by Atlanta United’s Brooks Lennon should have been repelled — it deflected off his hands — he denied any dissension exists on the club. “That happens a lot during practices and games,” Breza said Thursday during a video conference. “The only thing is that you saw it. People think it’s out of the ordinary or it’s controversial; it’s not. That happens every day and that’s what happens when you have a team that wants to win.

He has led a nomadic existence, but always has been in demand, it seems.

“I wanted to coach outside of France,” Lavandier said. “I like to take my (suitcase) and work. If I stay only in France, it’s simple. I know a lot of people and teams, but I want to learn about new civilizations and personalities; a new country, new discoveries. That’s really important … to see something different. A different culture.

“Building a foundation. I took this job for that. Without challenges, I wouldn’t coach.”

Lavandier, who has numerous coaching certificates, also has a degree in mental preparation. The psychology of dealing with pro athletes, he said, is paramount. He likes intelligent players with strong work ethics. On the court, he wants a team that plays fast and is athletic. He’ll seek a team that transitions quickly and passes frequently.

“My philosophy is always the same — I want to help the players to be better for the future, for Montreal,” he said. “And why not a better team? I like to adjust my coaching. The communication’s important. And it’s important to give confidence to the players.

“I want a good person and a worker. That’s very important. The game’s one day, but the week’s seven days. We need to work every day for one game.”

Lavandier, the father of three, will arrive in Montreal next month. Training camp begins May 16, with the Alliance’s first game nine days later in Hamilton. The Alliance will launch its home season against Scarborough on May 29 at Verdun Auditorium.

“We have to work quickly,” he said. “When you decide to work in sports, the challenge is the first key to success.”

[email protected]

twitter.com/HerbZurkowsky1

CF Montréal keeps fans on edge of their seats, but continues to win .
Teams that live by the sword will, in all likelihood, eventually die by the same means. It’s only a matter of time before the inevitable occurs. CF Montréal is on a roll following Saturday afternoon’s 2-1 victory over the struggling, yet pesky, Vancouver Whitecaps in its Saputo Stadium debut — the first all-Canadian confrontation this season in MLS. CFM began its season with three successive defeats, but has now won its last three — the first two on the road — and is undefeated in four, bringing its season record to 3-3-1. Suddenly, there’s some life in manager Wilfried Nancy’s side heading into a daunting challenge, next Saturday on the road, against Philadelphia.

See also