With no excuses, proud Canadiens move forward

Montreal Canadien

Written in large letters on the Montreal Canadiens dressing room wall is the slogan ``No excuses.''

The new management team brought in last summer doesn't want to hear about why the fabled Canadiens finished last in the Eastern Conference last season.

It just wants the losing to end. And veteran defenseman Josh Gorges agrees.

``The No. 1 thing is our attitude,'' he said this week. ``We have to bring back the mentality of what it means to be a Montreal Canadien. There's a winning tradition in this organization and that has to be re-instilled in everyone. To understand that it's not OK to be average. That's not acceptable.''

Last season saw 24-time Stanley Cup-champion Montreal end a four-year run of making the playoffs. The campaign was marked by injuries and a coaching change, when Jacques Martin was fired on Dec. 17 and replaced by first-time coach Randy Cunneyworth.

``I definitely felt that it was slipping away from us last year,'' Gorges said. ``We can go over it and over it and talk about excuses on why things didn't happen, but I'd rather talk about the things that we'll do to be better this year.''

In the end, general manager Pierre Gauthier was also fired after a disastrous series of player moves, including the trade of playoff scoring hero Michael Cammalleri to Calgary for the underperforming Rene Bourque.

Marc Bergevin replaced Gauthier and reshaped the entire hockey department. Rick Dudley and Larry Carriere are the assistant general managers, and Scott Mellanby is the director of player personnel. New positions to help develop players in the organization went to Martin Lapointe and Patrice Brisebois, as well.

There is also a new coach in Michel Therrien, who returned to the team that gave him his first NHL job a decade ago, and new assistants Gerard Gallant and Jean-Jacques Daigneault.

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