The writing appeared to be on the wall for Francois Allaire to leave Anaheim and come back to the Canadiens, but Brian Burke had other ideas.
The former Ducks GM hired Allaire yesterday as the Maple Leafs goalie consultant, thereby depriving the Habs and Bob Gainey of the best candidate out there to fill Rollie Melanson's recently vacated job.
This would appear to be a severe blow, seeing as Allaire made it clear he wanted to be closer to his teenage kids, and how could he get much closer than Montreal? Which is what makes me believe that Gainey wasn't all that interested in Allaire's services, which also leads me to believe that the new goalie coach has essentially been hired already.
We should get a clearer idea of what the Canadiens coaching staff will look like by Monday, as June 15 was the loose deadline set by Gainey seeing as that is when Don Lever and Ron Wilson's contracts expire. I would be stunned to see any of the assistant coaches return, but stranger things have happened.
Today is also significant because we learned of at least three legitimate offers to buy the Canadiens and everything that comes with them. One group is led by the Molson brothers, while another is a bizarre marriage between Quebecor Media, the Quebec Federation of Labour and Les Productions Feeling, a company owned by Céline Dion's husband and manager, René Angelil. The grouping is bizarre because Quebecor Media head honcho Pierre Karl Péladeau is in the process of trying to break the union at his flagship newspaper, Le Journal de Montréal.
One other American group submitted a bid, according to the La Presse report, but only bidders where the majority of shareholders would be Quebecers will benefit from a provincial government loan that could reach as high as $100 million.
The NHL board of governors meet in Montreal in two weeks as a prelude to the draft, and it would appear George Gillett would like this settled in time to present the new buyers and get them approved at that meeting.
Meanwhile, the hockey department appears to be in no rush to get moving as Alex Tanguay tells colleague Marc de Foy that he hasn't heard from the Canadiens. I find that odd because at the Jacques Martin hiring on June 1, Bob Gainey said he would be speaking with all the team's available free agents over the course of that week. Here we are, well over a week later, and one of the two free agents likely to attract the most attention on the open market hasn't been contacted, at least not as of Tuesday.
The other coveted free agent, Mike Komisarek, appears destined to test the market, in which case Gainey is almost sure to be outbid by some rogue GM who is looking for the next Scott Stevens, but will wind up with the next Jay McKee.
UPDATE: Was reading the Journal de Montréal over lunch and saw that a fourth group led by Stephen Bronfman has also submitted a bid to buy the Canadiens and that the bid is worth around $450 million. The newspaper, which would be very well plugged in on this seeing as it is Péladeau's mouthpiece, also reports that the American bidder is in fact Montreal native Graeme Roustan. You can read more about Roustan here.