Geoff Molson fielded questions from all angles in French and English for 90 minutes Wednesday.
The matters lobbed on the Montreal Canadiens’ proprietor, president and chief govt officer by reporters ranged from his group’s efficiency, to the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic on enterprise and social justice.
The endurance he demonstrated in each official languages additionally clearly extends to the membership’s entrance workplace.
Talking publicly for the primary time for the reason that NHL was compelled to pause the 2019-20 marketing campaign in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Molson mentioned on a convention name that normal supervisor Marc Bergevin continues to have his full help.
“We bumped into some roadblocks,” Molson mentioned of Montreal’s disappointing common season. “I nonetheless imagine that we’ve got a particularly thrilling subsequent few years forward of us.”
The Canadiens had been on their strategy to lacking the playoffs for the third straight spring — and fourth time in 5 years — earlier than being handed a lifeline by the league’s return-to-play plan this summer season.
Montreal earned the 24th of 24 spots regardless of registering simply 71 factors in 71 video games, together with a paltry 19 wins in regulation.
The Canadiens had been agonizingly shut to creating the playoffs in 2018-19, a season described as the start of a “reset” by Molson, however had been unable to get better from two separate eight-game shedding streaks this marketing campaign earlier than it was placed on ice.
“I imagine that we’ve got an excellent core group of veterans which might be going to steer us by way of,” he mentioned. “Now we have some younger gamers which might be already on the group that we all know are going to contribute. We have got some prospects coming, that we’re very hopeful on.
“The plan, general, has been effectively executed, regardless of some efficiency points that we had this season.”
Molson additionally shot down rumours the group might be hiring a president of hockey operations to fill a administration degree between himself and Bergevin, who made the playoffs in every of his first three season as GM, together with a visit to the Jap Convention remaining in 2014.
“Yearly we be taught one thing about one another,” Molson mentioned. “Am I happy as a result of we took a step again? In fact not. I am not happy and Marc is aware of that. However I do know that we’ve got an excellent plan. And I nonetheless imagine that we will get by way of this.”
Montreal has received the Stanley Cup a document 24 occasions, however its been 27 years for the reason that metropolis’s final title. Molson understands the frustration — he remembers among the glory years lengthy earlier than he owned the group — however identified hockey’s panorama has drastically modified.
“Our dedication to profitable has by no means slipped,” he mentioned. “There is a gigantic quantity of parity within the league proper now. We noticed it final 12 months within the playoffs, we see it yearly within the playoffs. There may be no one in our group that’s reducing their requirements, and we by no means will. It might be completely different now … 27 years is a very long time for Montreal.
“It is exhausting, and I wish to get there, however the requirements have by no means modified.”
Molson additionally touched on the troublesome enterprise aspect of the pandemic and was requested in regards to the loss of life of George Floyd — who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer — and the protests in opposition to racial injustice that adopted.
The Canadiens launched a press release within the wake of Floyd’s loss of life, saying the group was “horrified by the photographs of this despicable and heinous crime.”
Various gamers additionally spoke out, particularly captain Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher and Max Domi.
A press release from Shea Weber<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMatter?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#BlackLivesMatter</a> <a href=”https://t.co/N0TGj8FNn0″>pic.twitter.com/N0TGj8FNn0</a>
And Molson mentioned that if a member of the group selected to protest by taking a knee, like former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, or elevate a fist through the nationwide anthems each time the video games resume, he would have the proprietor’s full help.
“Each participant has the suitable to specific themselves,” Molson mentioned. “The people have the suitable to protest nonetheless they need or to not protest nonetheless they need.
“An important factor is that I imagine [Black Lives Matter] is a crucial trigger, and our group will proceed to do what it could do to help making it higher for the following technology.”
As for the sport itself, Molson mentioned he is assured the NHL will return this summer season, which might see Montreal meet Pittsburgh within the best-of-five qualifying spherical for a shot on the common 16-team playoffs.
“There’s a lot uncertainty,” he mentioned. “You’ll be able to by no means be 100 per cent sure, however I really feel actually good about (the NHL’s) plan.”
Molson mentioned the Canadiens’ apply facility will open for Section 2 of the league’s return-to-play protocol — which incorporates small group exercises — on Monday for gamers within the Montreal space.
There’s nonetheless a lot to be negotiated between league and the NHLPA, but it surely’s hoped coaching camps can begin someday after July 10, with video games following later that month or in early August in two hub cities.
And although it was a troublesome season up so far, Molson hopes his group can write an unbelievable story.
“Do I believe that that is the group that is constructed to win the Stanley Cup? I do not assume so,” he mentioned. “However I do assume that something can occur within the playoffs. “We have seen it earlier than.”