ST-JOVITE, Que. – The Montreal Canadiens have given head coach Guy Carbonneau a multi-year contract extension, the NHL club announced Friday.
Carbonneau would not say how long the extension was for, other than joking to reporters that “it’s more than one year and less than 10.”
The former Canadiens captain led the club to a first-place finish in the Eastern Conference last season.
“We’ve had a deal in place for quite some time,” Carbonneau said after his club practised in Mont-Tremblant. “I’m very happy. I have the chance to stay with a good group of players and to be part of an excellent organization.”
The 48-year-old joined the Montreal staff on Jan. 14, 2006, as an associate to head coach and general manager Bob Gainey. He took over as head coach on May 5, 2006. In two seasons as head coach, his record is 89-59-16.
Carbonneau played 13 seasons with the Canadiens beginning in 1980-81, winning the Frank Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward three times.
He later played one season in St. Louis and five more in Dallas before he retired in 2000. He won three Stanley Cups, two with the Canadiens and one with the Stars.
The Sept-Iles, Que., native was an assistant coach in Montreal before he became assistant general manager in Dallas in 2002. Then he opted to go back to Montreal following the firing of then head coach Claude Julien in January 2006.
Carbonneau’s first season as head coach proved a difficult one and the team finished out of the playoffs despite an overall improvement. But he rebounded last season with the club finishing atop the standings in the Eastern Conference and Carbonneau himself a finalist for the Jack Adams Trophy.
“If you’d told me 10 years ago that I’d become head coach, I would have told you you were crazy,” Carbonneau said.
“I admitted to having issues with Michel Therrien. When Bob called a few years later, the timing was perfect. On top of which, I knew the city and the organization. The transition in the end was much easier than I would have thought.
“I always wanted to be a head coach, but it took the right place and the right people.”
Carbonneau also has the benefit of having a close relationship with Gainey, a former teammate and roommate on the road.
“It’s a relationship that’s stronger than a boss usually has with an employee,” Carbonneau said.
“He knows how I think and it’s the same for me.”
For his part, Gainey has no regrets about plucking Carbonneau out of Dallas.
“He’s a competitor,” Gainey said. “He’s also very intelligent. And now, he has the experience and he’s only going to continue to get better.”
Carbonneau says he counts a number of his former coaches as influences, including current Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire and former Canadiens coach Jacques Demers.
“I’ve always said that Lemaire was the ideal head coach. He excels behind the bench and also runs strong practices. He also has a talent for developing players,” Carbonneau said.
“Demers was also really good in a different way. He was positive and had a good communication skills.”