Bob Hartley as next Montreal Canadiens head coach picks up steam
It was a foregone conclusion that Bob Hartley would come back to the NHL next season; it was just a matter of which coaching vacancy he'd fill.
The Calgary Flames seemed like a fit, thanks to his on and off-ice history with Jay Feaster. The Montreal Canadiens were another potential destination, and it sounds like that's where Hartley's coming in for a landing.
On Sunday, Le Journal de Quebec reported (via CJAD) that with Patrick Roy out of the running, Hartley would be the Habs' choice.
On Monday, Fred Poulin of The Hockey Writers and Habs Addict took it another step further: Reporting that Hartley would be named the team's next head coach and that Memorial Cup champion Shawinigan Cataractes coach Eric Veilleux — who recruited Hartley to be an adviser to his team — would join him as an assistant.
Marc Bergervin, who was named the Canadiens' general manager at the beginning of May, had been meeting potential candidates in recent weeks. He was seen along with owner Geoff Molson in Shawinigan in the past few days and his presence fuelled rumors regarding Hartley in Canadian media. Two of the Habs' top prospects, Michael Bournival and Morgan Ellis, played for the Cataractes this season. Prospects Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu were also playing in the tournament, for London and St. John, respectively. Gerard Gallant, the St. John Sea Dogs' head coach, was also rumored to be in the running for the head coach position, but he denied meeting Bergevin or any member of the organization.
Hartley worked as a special advisor to head coach Eric Veilleux during the Memorial Cup and he was often seen talking to members of the Montreal Canadiens organization throughout the tournament.
There have been conflicting reports about Hartley's contract status with the Zurich Lions. Previous reports claimed his contract had an out clause. Poulin reports he'll need to void his contract with the Lions. Lions GM Peter Zahner said, as relayed by the Calgary Sun, that Hartley is "still under contract with us."
Hartley fills the bilingual requirements of the Canadiens coaching gig, and obviously brings a winning pedigree to the position. Bergevin has received high marks for assembling his front office; how would Hartley be received as his coaching hire?