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Gainey happy to see former Canadiens teammate Carbonneau in Hall of Fame


Bob Gainey once fired Guy Carbonneau as head coach of the Canadiens, but he’s happy to see that his former teammate will be joining him in the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.

“I played with Guy for a few years and then I watched him play for a few years with the Dallas Stars and each team he played for got better,” Gainey said Monday before teeing off in the Invitational Serge Savard, a golf tournament at Islesmere Golf Club to raise funds for the Université de Sherbrooke’s sports programs.

“He was a very strong player in his style of play, a very, very strong competitor, and I’m happy for him to be recognized and he deserves to be recognized,” Gainey said.

Gainey downplayed his role in Carbonneau’s development as a player.

“I had a little more experience than Guy when he arrived with the Canadiens so perhaps early on there was some mentoring, but he was a quick learner,” Gainey said. “Even in his first year with the Canadiens he was a strong player.”

There’s little doubt that Gainey’s career served as a template for Carbonneau’s development. Gainey defined the role of the defensive forward, so much so that the NHL created the Frank J. Selke Trophy to recognize his accomplishments. Gainey won the award as top defensive forward the first four seasons it was awarded and Carbonneau would later win it three times. When Gainey ended his NHL career in 1989, Carbonneau succeeded him as team captain.

“By the time I left the Canadiens, Guy was fully experienced,” Gainey said. “He was ready to take on new roles and do more and he has that personality and character where he likes responsibility, he likes pressure and he was in the right place.”

After his playing career, Gainey went on to coach in the NHL and served as the general manager of the Minnesota North Stars, the Dallas Stars and the Canadiens. in light of his experience, he was asked if he would have tendered an offer sheet to Carolina’s Sebastian Aho.

“I don’t know; it’s too difficult to know all the details,” Gainey said. “They speak to agents. They speak to other people. They try to get a good idea of whether they can be successful and without knowing all that information, we sit on the sidelines and try to evaluate. That’s your job, not mine.”

When asked about the state of hockey. the 65-year-old Gainey said he was impressed by the growth of the game.

“There are more people playing, the women’s game has grown,” Gainey said. “There are more professional teams than ever before with strong teams in Europe and you see players from places you didn’t expect, like Phoenix, Ariz.

“I like the game, I like how it’s played,” Gainey added. “I like the movement of the players and the speed of the game and the skill. I prefer when the clock keeps moving and there’s less timeouts and there are fewer whistles when the play is accelerating. I really enjoy the first seven or eight minutes of the period.”

Gainey was among three dozen former players who gathered to help Savard raise funds for the Sherbrooke program. Savard, a former Canadiens player and general manager, became involved in the university program 10 years ago. He has been making annual donations of $200,000 and this year he doubled that donation and is spearheading an effort to raise $5 million for the newly created Fonds Serge Savard. The money will be used to fund bursaries for student-athletes at the school.

phickey@postmedia.com

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