Recipe for success
Having ended his career as a Devil in 2001-02, Richer couldn’t be happier to see Gionta and Gomez land in Montreal.
“I know these two players personally, and Brian was even my roommate on the road that year during the playoffs,” recalled Richer of the then-rookie winger. “It was the beginning of Brian’s career and the end of mine. I’ll always remember my last games that spring, I missed a great chance in overtime and we ended up losing in six games to Carolina.”
The last Habs player to score 50 goals in a season and the only Canadiens player not named Guy Lafleur to do it more than once, Richer is thrilled to see these one-time Devils come to Montreal carrying their three combined Stanley Cup rings.
“I’m happy for the Canadiens,” continued Richer, who spent nine of his 17 NHL seasons in Montreal. “They’ve brought in not only a couple of veterans, but guys who have tasted victory and won the Stanley Cup. I think players like these two are what’s been missing on the Habs the last few years. Bob [Gainey] had to make changes. I really believe this will be a good thing for the organization and I wish them all the best.”
With no shortage of young players slated to be in the Habs lineup in 2009-10, the arrival of Gomez and Gionta brings intangibles to the Canadiens that money can’t buy.
“Just being around players like this will be a bonus for the younger guys coming in from junior and the AHL,” offered Richer, who won his first Cup with the Habs in 1986 before adding another as a Devil in 1995. “Those kids will have two great examples of players who know what it takes to be a winner. In hockey circles, that kind of impact is priceless.”
The two American forwards don’t seem to need a crash course in Habs 101, either.
“I read the comments made by Brian and Gogo when they were acquired by Montreal,” explained Richer. “They seem to understand the importance of wearing the Canadiens jersey. They’ve each been in the league long enough to know that once you wear a Habs uniform, it’s more than just a jersey, you’re representing a lot of people, not only in Quebec and Canada, but around the world.
“You can’t forget that these players were groomed under Lou Lamoriello,” added Richer. “When you play for Lou and you win a Stanley Cup, that respect follows you wherever you go. Wearing your colors with pride is also important in New Jersey. No matter what name is on the back, it’s what the logo stands for that counts most.”
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com
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