Rollie moves on
“In remaking the coaching staff, rather than one simple change, we felt that we needed some new ideas and new direction,” explained Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey. “Rollie has been here for a long time and he’s given a lot. The goalies that have learned from him and the goalies we have here now can retain what he’s left them and look forward to having input from somebody else.”
Capping a successful playing career that saw “Rollie the Goalie” capture three straight Stanley Cups during the Islanders’ dynasty years in the 1980s, Melanson joined Patrick Roy between the pipes in Montreal for a nine-game stint in 1991-92. Five years later, the Moncton, NB native couldn’t resist a return to La Belle Province.
Since joining the Habs’ coaching staff prior to the 1997-98 season, Melanson has been fine-tuning the goaltending tandems both in Montreal and on the farm in Hamilton. Under Melanson’s tutelage, Jose Theodore emerged as one of the best young goalies in the game, capturing both the Vezina and Hart Trophies after a stellar campaign in 2001-02.
A 1983 Jennings Trophy winner in his own right, Melanson also guided former Habs Cristobal Huet to All-Star status and the Roger Crozier Saving Grace Award in 2005-06. Posting career numbers across the board, the French netminder boasted a league-leading .929 save percentage and a sparkling 2.20 goals-against average.
While turning late draft pick Jaroslav Halak into a bona fide NHL goalie, Melanson simultaneously helped launch Carey Price’s career. In 2007, when Price carried the Bulldogs to a Calder Cup crown, earning playoff MVP status in the process, Melanson was right there with him. An NHL All-Rookie Team nod in 2008 and NHL All-Star appearance this past season, Price represents Melanson’s final goalie project with the Canadiens.
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
The Jacques Martin experience
Jacques Martin in numbers
Jacques Martin to coach Habs