The Montreal Canadiens are bringing back another familiar face to the organization while adding a couple of French-speaking former NHL players to the front office.
Patrice Brisebois, who often drew the ire of fans during his 16 seasons patrolling the Canadiens blue-line, has joined the team as player development coach.
Martin Lapointe, a right-winger for four teams over 14 years in the NHL, returns to his native Quebec as the Canadiens’ director of player development.
Sylvain Lefebvre to coach Canadiens' AHL club
The opportunity to be a head coach was enough to get Sylvain Lefebvre to leave a National Hockey League bench.
The retired NHL defenceman has left his assistant coaching job with the Colorado Avalanche to run the Montreal Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton.
Lefebvre replaces Clement Jodoin, who will meet with Canadiens new head coach Michel Therrien about an assistant's position with the NHL club.
For the past three seasons, the 44-year-old Lefebvre was an assistant to Joe Sacco in Colorado, where the Richmond, Que., native won a Stanley Cup in 1996.
"On top of working for the Canadiens, under a whole new management, I really wanted to be a head coach," said Lefebvre. "I'll coach my first game in the AHL in the fall and then we'll see where it goes."
Lefebvre played 14 NHL seasons with five teams — Montreal, Toronto, Quebec/Colorado and New York Rangers — amassing 184 points (30 goals, 154 assists) and a plus-108 rating in 945 regular-season games. He added 18 points in 129 post-season contests.
Lefebvre spent his final season as a player with Bern of the Swiss National League with whom he won the league title in 2004.
— Doug Harrison, CBC Sports
"The credibility of the men we hired was as important (as the language they speak)," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said at the team's suburban training centre, where the first day of summer rookie camp was underway.
"With their backgrounds, I can answer to any concerns anyone may have about them. I wanted good people who are qualified for the jobs they will do and I feel I reached that goal."
Lapointe, who most recently worked in the Chicago Blackhawks organization as a pro scout, said his role in Montreal will be "to support the younger prospects, especially in junior, to help them get ready for pro hockey and to be a liaison between them and the Canadiens."
During his playing days, Lapointe skated for the Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators.
Drafted 10th overall by Detroit in 1991, he made his NHL debut in the 1991-92 season and later scored the 1998 Stanley Cup-winning goal in Game 4.
Lapointe, 38, suited up for 998 NHL games, collecting 381 points on 181 goals an 200 assists.
Prior to joining the NHL, the father of four won an American Hockey League (Calder Cup) championship in 1992 with Adirondack and represented Canada at three world junior championships.
"I remember my first [NHL] training camp, no one talked to me, not even the coaches," Lapointe recalled. "Patrice and I will be with the young players, to help them, share our experiences with them and try to make the transition easier."
Brisebois, 41, ranks third all-time among Canadiens defencemen and 11th overall on the team for games played at 1,009, trailing only Larry Robinson and Serge Savard.
He finished his NHL career with 98 goals an 322 assists for 420 points in the regular season. He played in 98 playoff games, totalling 32 points and won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993.
Bergevin said he sees Brisebois's had up-and-down relationship with fans over the years as a plus in his new role.
"It was important to me to have someone who could share his experiences of the different situations that can arise," said Bergevin. "Someone who can explain what he went through in the good and bad times, and how to deal with that."
A chronic back injury led to the end of Brisebois's playing days in 2009 with Montreal. He spent two campaigns with Colorado from 2005 to 2007.
Brisebois, who is married with two daughters, was named top defenceman in the Canadian Hockey League as a junior player in 1991.
Internationally, he is one of few players to play for Canada twice at the world juniors, winning in 1990 and '91.
Brisebois and Lapointe are the latest in a series of changes in Montreal. In early May, the Canadiens named one-time NHL defenceman Bergevin as their GM.
Last month, Rick Dudley was named his assistant after one season with the Toronto Maple Leafs as director of player personnel and a week ago Michel Therrien was brought aboard as head coach and Scott Mellanby as director of player personnel.