RDS’s Pierre Houde shares his thoughts on this year’s Habs

Posted: January 9, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I had a lengthy chat Wednesday afternoon with RDS president Gerry Frappier and the network’s hockey play-by-play man Pierre Houde on the eve of the return of NHL hockey to the popular sports network. As soon as that column is posted on the Gazette web site, I’ll post it here (and by the way, it will also be in the paper’s Hockey Inside/Out section on Thursday). That piece is all about the impact of the lockout on RDS and what the return of the Habs means for the network.

But here are Houde’s thoughts on the difference between last year’s nightmarish Habs team and this season’s new, improved model.

“That team wasn’t as bad as its record last year,” said Houde. “A lot of negative stuff happened in the environment of the team last year that made it look worse than it was, starting with the injuries. You lose your best defenceman (Andrei Markov), who’s maybe top ten in the League, and he’s not going to play 90-percent of the season. There were a lot of negative vibes around the team. Hockey is really a special team sport as compared to baseball or football. Those sports you can say are the sum of the talents. Hockey is very different. There’s a lot of team spirit. It’s about the fun of playing the game. And there was no fun in that team last year, on the ice and outside the ice. I never believed this franchise would be in the middle of such turmoil.

“But Geoff Molson did the right things – and the season wasn’t even over when he started to re-build – and he brought in the right people. So there’s going to be fun this year. Now how many wins does fun bring? I don’t know. There’s no exact science.”

I mention that there’s a whole new management structure – new GM, new head coach, new assistant coaches.

“There’s going to be some fresh air to breath in the environment,” said Houde. “And that in of itself will generate some sparks. Now sparks alone are not enough to make the playoffs. You need some talent. But you have a couple of new players coming in with new energy. Who knows?”

Obviously you do have a new environment when the boss is the media-friendly, wise-cracker Marc Bergevin who couldn’t be more different than the dour Pierre Gauthier.

“I’m not putting Pierre on trial because he has a heck of a hockey brain, but he was a different kind of person and maybe not the kind of person to react to non-hockey-related types of situations,” said Houde, rather diplomatically.

Look at Bergevin, I say. He was on every radio and TV station they day he was hired last year, doing more interviews in one day than Gauthier did in his entire career in the executive suites of the Canadiens.

Houde also underlines that this year’s team will be the first to fully bear the stamp of new owner Geoff Molson.

“Now it’s going to be his team and I think he understands. He comes from a very successful business family and if there’s a family in the history of this city that can understand the dual culture, it’s the Molsons. And I think he’s genuinely a person like that. I talk to him in English and he talks to me in French. And he’s stubborn about that. I always go – ‘Hi Geoff, how are you?’ And he says – ‘Bonjour Pierre. Ca va bien?’ ”



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