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Gainey Returns to Canadiens

June 03, 2003|From Associated Press

Bob Gainey, who helped lead the Montreal Canadiens to five Stanley Cups, was hired Monday as general manager of his old team. The Canadiens have missed the playoffs four of the last five seasons despite one of hockey's highest payrolls.

"Montreal provides me with a great challenge and a much different environment than the one I competed in the last 10 years," said Gainey who spent that decade in Dallas.

"It is going to be different, it is going to be exciting, it is going to be testy, it is going to be tough and it is going to be fun."

Gainey, who coached the Minnesota North Stars, moved with them to Texas and remained on the Stars' payroll after being replaced as general manager in January 2000. He takes over from Andre Savard, who will become assistant general manager.

A Hall of Fame player, Gainey was captain of the Canadiens for the final eight of his 16 seasons in Montreal.

Gainey won the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward from 1978 to '81, the first four years it was awarded. He also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1979, when the Canadiens won the last of four consecutive Stanley Cups.

Gainey takes over a team that finished 10th in the Eastern Conference despite a $46-million payroll.

Among the moves that failed were a trade for winger Mariusz Czerkawski, who scored only five goals and ended the season in the minors, and the signing of 36-year-old free-agent Randy McKay, on the downside of his career. Czerkawski is owed $2.6 million next season and McKay is owed $2.125 million.

Savard also made a questionable deal for forward Donald Audette and suffered through a debacle involving defenseman Patrice Brisebois.

Brisebois, in the first season of a three-year deal paying him about $4 million per season, was booed by home fans and took time off because of stress.

After retiring in 1989, Gainey was named coach of the Minnesota North Stars in 1990 and led them to the Stanley Cup finals in his first season.

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Fred Brathwaite signed a one-year contract to back up Marc Denis as goaltender for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Brathwaite, 30, was 12-9-4 with a 2.76 goals-against average and a .883 save percentage last season for St. Louis. He has a career record of 77-88-36 with a 2.67 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and 15 shutouts.

Denis appeared in 77 of 82 games and set an NHL record by playing 4,511 minutes. Brathwaite estimated he would be called on to play 20 or 30 games to relieve Denis.

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