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Someone new behind the bench


MONTREAL | September 27th, 2009
Someone new behind the bench
The date of October 1, 2009 has been circled on Jacques Martin calendar for more tyhan one reason since he shook hands with Bob Gainey this summer. In addition to turning 57 that day, Martin will also be coaching his first regular season game with the Habs.

To toast the occasion, here’s a look back at the Canadiens coaches to have come out on top in their first game behind the Montreal bench.

In 1922, Leo Dandurand replaces Newsy Lalonde as head coach while also taking over from George Kennedy as Habs general manager. The team responded well to the changes, with the Canadiens defeating the Hamilton Tigers 3-2 on January 11, 1922.

Following the tragic death of Babe Siebert in the summer of 1939, former Habs star Pit Lepine took over as head coach. His coaching debut was a successful one with the Habs crushing the visiting the Blackhawks 8-2 on November 5, 1939. George Mantha led the way with two goals and one assist.

Toe Blake also hit the ground running when he took over behind the Canadiens’ bench, with his Habs rattling off four straight wins to begin the 1955-56 season. While Blake earned a 2-0 win over the Leafs in Toronto in his debut on October 6, 1955, all wasn’t rosy that night in Hogtown as the Canadiens coach saw star winger Bernard “Boom Boom” Geoffrion leave the game on a stretcher after a nasty hit from Larry Cahan. Geoffrion would go on to sit out the next 11 games.

On December 3, 1970, Al McNeil found himself at the helm of the Habs. After a rough start to the season, the Canadiens respond well to their new coach. Their route to an eventual 17th Stanley Cup in the spring began with a 6-3 win over the Blues at the Forum. Peter Mahovlich helped his new coach earn his first win with a pair of goals for the Habs.

Leap ahead to 1983-84 and Jacques Lemaire is set to make his coaching debut on against the Rangers at the Forum on February 25, 1984. His troops deliver him a resounding 7-4 victory, with Mats Naslund and Guy Carbonneau each chipping in with three points apiece.

The 1992-93 season kicked off with a new coach behind the bench, two-time Jack Adams Award winner Jacques Demers. Demers’ troops responded by pelting the Whalers Sean Burke with a whopping 47 shots in a 5-1 road win over Hartford.

Bob Gainey’s stint as Habs coach late in the 2008-09 season wasn’t his first. The Canadiens’ GM made his Montreal coaching debut back in 2005-06 against the San Jose Sharks at the Bell Centre on January 14, 2006. After falling behind 1-0 to the Sharks, Gainey’s Habs erupted for six second-period goals in a frame that saw the Habs match a pair of team records most power play goals (4) and shorthanded goal (2) in a period.

Time will tell what Jacques Martin’s debut with Montreal will bring and where his first game behind the Canadiens bench will rank.

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