There are a few changes that Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin must make immediately if his team is to become an elite franchise again.
These changes include normal roster moves such as free-agent decisions and also how the team handles its coaching staff.
Let's look at three changes Bergevin must make quickly to reestablish a winning culture in Montreal.
Depth is needed not only to make the playoffs, but also to win the Stanley Cup. Injuries are part of the game, and with a shortened season likely, players may be at a higher risk for injuries than normal.
This means that Bergevin has to improve the depth of his forward group—particularly in the bottom six.
Signing former New York Rangers forward Brandon Prust was a good start, but more additions need to be made.
When the lockout ends, Bergevin should consider signing left winger Kristian Huselius, or centers Jason Arnott or Daymond Langkow. All three veterans can add some experience, scoring and grit to the Canadiens lineup.
Bringing back right winger Andrei Kostitsyn is also an option for Montreal. He scored 20 or more goals three times for the Canadiens earlier in his career and would be a great addition to the team's third line.
For the Canadiens to score enough goals this season, Bergevin needs to bolster the depth of his bottom six. There are a few players still left on the free-agent market who can help the Canadiens address this weakness.
The Canadiens' blue line needs another defensive defenseman or two who will bring more toughness and truculence to the team's lineup.
It's incredibly difficult to win games in the Northeast Division without a number of physical defensemen who excel on the penalty kill and impact games with their toughness.
With their current roster, the Canadiens will once again struggle to prevent teams from winning the majority of the physical battles each night.
Bergevin must add some size to his blue line to make sure the Canadiens aren't dominated by teams who are bigger and stronger.
Even though he's more of an offensive defenseman, free agent Matt Gilroy could really help the Canadiens if veteran Andrei Markov's injury issues prevent him from making much of an impact this season.
The Canadiens have not been very patient with head coaches recently, and even though there is a lot of pressure to win and make the playoffs in Montreal, having some consistency behind the bench can be very beneficial for any NHL team.
Michel Therrien is an intelligent man and has previous experience as the head coach in Montreal, so Bergevin must give him the time he needs to achieve success.
The Canadiens have made eight head coaching changes since 2000, which is no way to build a consistent winner.
Bergevin must give Therrien, and all other head coaches he works with, the time needed to improve the team. Nothing good will come from firing a coach after just two or three seasons, especially when injuries and other things prevented the coach from having a full squad.
Many of the best NHL teams over the last decade, including the Detroit Red Wings, have enjoyed remarkable success because of coaching stability.
The Canadiens cannot be too impatient with their head coaches any longer.