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06-22-2010, 01:42 PM
King of Anarchy
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Melanson, the first goaltender from New Brusnwick to play in the NHL, was a goaltender/assistant coach with the Canadiens from 1997 to 2009 but could not avoid the change atop the organization last summer, moves that also cost Guy Carbonneau his job as head coach and ultimately led to Bob Gainey's decision to step down as general manager in February.

But the Canadiens, after securing the No. 8 seed in the playoffs on the final Saturday night of the regular season, hit their stride with seven-game victories over two elite opponents.

And Melanson was behind his former club all the way.

During his tenure, he coached a string of quality goaltenders in Montreal, a slated that included Jocelyn Thibault, Jose Theodore, Cristobal Huet, Jeff Hackett, Jocelyn Thibault and Carey Price.

However, his work with Jaroslav Halak, who the Canadiens groomed in their farm system, is especially satisfying, considering the Canadiens thrilling playoff run in the Stanley Cup playoffs, that ended with a five-game series setback to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference final.

Halak, the Canadiens ninth-round pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft, dazzled in the first two rounds, leading Montreal to improbable victories over the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, essentially claiming the Habs' No. 1 goaltending position from Price.

"I was very proud of Halak," Melanson said. "We spent seven years together. We started when he was a very young age, when he was 17 in Slovakia. That's when we discovered him and brought him over to North America with a ninth-round pick. This guy did everything the hard way and the honest way and he deserved everything that has come his way."

Melanson, 49, still has one year remaining on his contract with the Canadiens. He spent most of the past season keeping on top of things, whether it was in Tampa, where he based himself for some of the winter or back in New Brunswick, catching almost 200 games on television.

He wasn't a casual observer but studied trends and analyzed styles, particularly in the Western Conference.

"It gave me a chance to study teams like L.A., Anaheim, Calgary, Vancouver, which is something I would have not done in the past when you are in a hotbed like Montreal," he said.

He is sending out resumés and is hoping to hook up with a team.

"I have had a couple of good conversations with a few teams so far," he said. "It is still early"‰"¦"‰I want to work and I want to get back into the NHL. I feel that is my place and I feel I still have five to 10 more years to give and hopefully, that will happen."

As for the finals, he believes early momentum could play a key between the Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks.

"You have two animals there and it will be interesting to see who scores the first goal and who wins the first game," Melanson said. "Momentum is valuable. You can have it and lose it so quick and the team that grabs the momentum first will probably win the series. I would not be surprised if it is going to be Chicago."

He feels with the upsets that have occurred in the East thus far and with Chicago's strong overall performance, that the Hawks will outlast the Flyers.

"Usually the strong teams prevail," he said. "They are the ones who have been doing it for the longest period of time. You go with what has been consistent in the long term and Chicago has definitely been in the top three all year."

It seems like a very solid hiring to me.

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