The CH and rediscovered pleasure

The CH and rediscovered pleasure

Monday evening, I found myself with Lady Ju at Thaïkyo, an Asian restaurant in Manalapan, not far from Palm Beach. Across the street from Eau Spa and Resort, the former Ritz where I had already celebrated New Year’s Day with Bernard Geoffrion.

The directors general of the National League were gathered there. Rooms were starting at $2,000 a night, but all signs point to the NHL getting some good prices for their big thinkers.

It does not matter. What matters is the dinner that dragged on with Luc Gélinas, Éric Leblanc, the RDS journalists, their cameraman and Chantal Machabée… the vice-president of communications for the Canadiens.

In another era, it would have been Claude Mouton or Donald Beauchamp, people I loved, but Chantal is Chantal. We had a dark fun telling stories on the principle that what happens in Las Vegas stays in Vegas. What was said in Manalapan, stays in Manalapan.

But what counts is the rediscovered pleasure.

FIND THE TASTE

It’s not just the supporters who have rediscovered the pleasure of following their Glorieux, even if the defeats continue to pile up.

Journalists also have regained hope. These information professionals were so disgusted and sickened by the unhealthy climate imposed on them for their work, that some were even considering doing something else in life.

A colleague confirmed it to me yesterday.

“I had decided to quit. I would have done something else. No longer able to endure this climate. But there, with Kent Hughes, with Martin St-Louis and Chantal Machabée who made a real difference, I rediscovered the pleasure”, he told me.

It was Jonathan Bernier who exclaimed after another elimination of the Canadian in the playoffs that “now we will be able to have fun working”.

The guys and girls liked better to hit two weeks between Dallas and Nashville than to be pissed off by the faces of handsome and the secretiveness of the CH. At least they were talking to the players and the managers, they could write and tell good stories, they were once again becoming journalists who were real witnesses of facts and people.

GAINEY, GAUTHIER AND BERGEVIN

For the past 20 years, it’s felt like journalists have to negotiate with sociopaths. I knew the blessed age of Sam Pollock, Serge Savard, Irving Grundman and even Réjean Houle and André Savard. Men respectful of fans and journalists responsible for informing them correctly about their favorites.

But the reporters and columnists who tried to survive in the entourage of the Canadiens were crushed by three paranoid and control-crazed leaders. And it got worse from Bob Gainey to Marc Bergevin.

Gainey, as we unfortunately know, arrived in Montreal weighed down by a series of misfortunes. The death of his wife Cathy from brain cancer and his daughter swept away by a wave while completing another rehab on a boat.

Gainey, already reserved by nature, has completely withdrawn into himself. To soothe his pain, he listened to jazz while drinking beer in his favorite bars.

His successor was already a legend before arriving in Montreal. He was worthy of his legend. Pierre Gauthier is a refined and intelligent man. He excels in many business sectors. He’s just incapable of human contact when the other human has a notebook or a microphone.

As for Marc Bergevin, it would take Doc Mailloux to explain what happened. A warm, funny, joking, open man, has transformed over the years into an increasingly isolating sociopath. And after a breakup, he became downright paranoid. His universe in Montreal was limited to Trevor Timmins and Paul Wilson and both were dragged into his downfall.

And to this day, the two are ready to defend the friend he had access to. Them.

KENT HUGHES, SIMPLE NORMALITY

There are rumors in the NHL that Marc Bergevin tried to convince some general managers to ban journalists from the locker room. These are just noises for now. What is certain is that for him, COVID had created a perfect working climate for journalists: in their basement with a Zoom.

Which makes Kent Hughes look like a genius in communications and a role model in human relations. It is that the colleagues have been so weaned that a little common sense makes them capsize.

I have good news for readers. If the eighth wave of COVID is not too severe next October, the vice-president will open the doors of the locker room. Wide open. Airy with guys who are going to be able to talk and say smart things.

It’s started. Have you read Cole Caufield’s interview with Jean-François Chaumont?

If you missed it, call Jeff, he’ll be happy to read it to you on the phone…

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