The wave of former National Hockey League players being lured by the Montreal Canadiens continued Friday with the addition of Gerard Gallant as assistant coach.
He’ll join a staff fronted by Michel Therrien, who recently was brought aboard as head coach. That was followed by the arrival of one-time NHL forward Scott Mellanby and this week the appointment of retired NHLers Patrice Brisebois and Martin Lapointe as player development coach and director of player development, respectively.
"That's the tough part, Saint John was a good situation," Gallant said on a conference call with reporters. "It's hard to leave."
Also Friday, the Canadiens announced the hiring of Clement Jodoin as assistant coach. Jodoin coached Montreal's American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton last season after leading the Rimouski Oceanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for four seasons.
Jodoin and Gallant take over from former assistants Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur who were fired last week.
Gallant, 48, spent the past three seasons as head coach of the QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs, with whom he won a Memorial Cup (Canadian Hockey League) championship in 2011 and guided to a league-record three consecutive 100-point seasons.
The Summerside, P.E.I. native's junior hockey success didn't end there as Gallant led the Sea Dogs to three QMJHL finals, two league titles and a record of 161-34-9. He also won back-to-back QMJHL and CHL coach of the year awards and watched as Saint John won a franchise-record 53 games in 2010 and tied the league mark with 58 wins last season.
Gallant said his goal was to return to the NHL, where he coached previously, first as an assistant with Columbus starting in the 2000-01 season. He was named head coach in June 2004 and worked in that position until Nov. 13, 2006. He later worked two seasons as an assistant coach with the New York Islanders.
"As a coach, it's no different," he said. "You want to be part of the best hockey in the world. To come back with a franchise like Montreal is incredible."
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Gallant said he had talks about an assistant coaching job with two other NHL clubs, which he declined to name, but Montreal was the first to make an offer.
Therrien now has Gallant, Jodoin and two holdovers goaltender coach Pierre Groulx and video coach Mario Leblanc, on his staff.
Gallant began his coaching career in the Maritime Junior Hockey League with the Summerside Capitals in 1995-96, leading them to the Royal Bank Cup in '97.
He played 11 seasons in the NHL including nine with the Detroit Red Wings. The left-winger's most productive season was a 93-point performance (39 goals, 54 assists) in 1988-89 with Detroit that also included 230 penalty minutes. Gallant also recorded four 70-point campaigns.
In all, he scored 211 goals and 480 points with the Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning. Gallant also collected 18 goals and 21 assists in 58 playoff contests.
Gallant and Bergevin were teammates in Tampa Bay and among a group that drove together to the rink each day from their homes at a nearby golf resort.
As a coach, Gallant is know more for being a motivator than a tactician. He said what specific job he will be given, will be decided when the coaching staff meets for the first time next week.
He said he wants to bring "hard work and a lot of fun" to the job in Montreal.
Jodoin won the CHL's Brian Kilrea oach of the year Award in 2007 after leading the defunct Lewiston MAINEiacs to the President's Cup and a berth at the Memorial Cup.
The 60-year-old native of St-Cesaire, Que., will be in his second stint with the Canadiens. He worked for the club from 1997 to 2003 in various capacities, including as an assistant coach during Therrien's first stint with the club.
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