Gainey digs in at practice

SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Watched closely by hundreds of fans yesterday in Brossard, just outside of Montreal, Bob Gainey ran his first practice as the new head coach of the Canadiens.

It lasted all of 18 minutes.

Accompanied by assistants Doug Jarvis, Kirk Muller and the recently added Don Lever, Gainey laced up his skates as a matter of form.

"I don't want to give the players ideas. Hockey is a game of reaction. We want to give them access to things they already know how to accomplish," he said.

Over the next few days, Gainey plans to meet with each player individually. He also plans to improve communication within the team -- something that was never Carbonneau's "strongest point," according to captain Saku Koivu.

No one has directly blamed Carbonneau for the team's erratic results in recent weeks, but there was definitely a sense of relief following the coaching change.

Gainey is very aware that the decision to let Carbonneau go puts the pressure squarely on his own shoulders.

"My work will be analyzed by my bosses at the end of the season," he said without hesitation.

Gainey will be counting on Lever, former head coach of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs, to provide a "new voice" and to bring younger players into the core of the team.

"And he'll be able to test me with his ideas and questions," Gainey said of the person who will first and foremost be an adviser.

He did not, however, shed any light on how he plans to fill the head coach position next year.

As he attempts to transform the Canadiens into the team that most observers saw topping the Eastern Conference this year, and maybe even the Stanley Cup Final, Gainey will try to impress the idea of devotion to the cause on his players.

"The players have to be ready to take a hit in the face so the other team gets a penalty," he explained.

"We have to play more as a team."


Videos

Photos