New Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin vowed that his search for a head coach would be confidential and he kept to his word when he arrived at the Mastercard Memorial Cup on Friday night.
Bergevin wore a wide grin as he brushed aside question after question from the media about who may replace Randy Cunneyworth behind the bench, and when the announcement will be made.
”It’s going well,” said Bergevin, who replaced the fired Pierre Gauthier last month and then announced that Cunneyworth would no longer be head coach. ”It’s going to be confidential, but slowly it’s moving forward.
”I can’t tell you exactly when. It could happen soon. It could be a little longer. I don’t have a time frame, but I’m working on it.”
He would not say how many candidates he has interviewed or whether he has had followup interviews with any of them. He said there was no deadline to have a coach in place.
And he was silent on rumours that the next coach would be Bob Hartley, who spent last season with Zurich in the Swiss league, or on talk of former Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy, who coaches the junior Quebec Remparts.
”There are all kinds of rumours about everything. I just focus on my job,” said Bergevin, with an ever wider smile.
Bergevin has also been busy working with the scouting staff ahead of next month’s draft in Pittsburgh, where the Canadiens hold the third overall pick.
He did not rule out trading up or down at the draft if it was advantageous to the club. And he did not dismiss the notion of picking a Russian player despite concerns they may opt to sign in the KHL.
The top-rated player for the draft is Russian Nail Yakupov, and Mikhail Grigorenko is also highly rated.
”If you limit yourself to non-Russians, you’re not doing your job properly,” he said.
He had high praise for assistant GM Larry Carriere, who stayed on when Gauthier was fired, but may add another assistant to his staff.
Bergevin is to spend the weekend at the Memorial Cup mainly watching four Canadiens’ prospects — Michael Bournival, Morgan Ellis, Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi.
He won’t meet with them at the tournament, however.
”As an ex-player, I know they need to focus on the tournament,” Bergevin said. ”I just want to stay in the background and leave them their space so they can help their team win.”