In a very emotional and touching speech, George Gillett passed the torch to Geoffrey Molson and his family to succeed him as owners of the Montreal Canadiens. Despite the fact that the entire process is not complete, today's press conference certainly marks the end of an era and the start of a new one.
Gillett, who has been head of the team for a little more than eight years, wasn't short on flattering words when it came to describing his journey with the Montreal Canadiens Organization and its fan base. Describing them as the "best years" of his life, he did however express his regret and presented his apologies as the ultimate objective was not obtained, that is, a Stanley Cup ring.
The American businessman also ensured that despite being painful, his decision to end his "love affair" with the team had nothing to do with the Liverpool Football Club that he co-owns with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks.
The press conference was held at Laval, where the team had its annual Golf Tournament as an official kick off to the 2009-2010 season.
With training camp just around the corner, the new coaches and players will be under much scrutiny. Among those coming back, one player in particular will once again have to live up to the high expectations and pressure that have been placed on his shoulders.
Indeed, all eyes were on Carey Price as he stepped on the practice facility's ice for the first time this fall. The attention is just a hint of what is ahead for the number one goalie whom new head coach Jacques Martin has given his trust.
French humorist Guy Nantel joked in one of his latest shows: "Carey Price's talent, everybody talks about it but nobody has ever seen it" which harshly reflects the fuss surrounding the young goaltender.
Price's first two seasons were filled with highs and lows, mostly promising starts concluding with painful ends. And what is more painful than being eliminated in four games by the long time rivals Boston Bruins?
Perceived as mentally and physically ready, Price is seen as the future of the team, especially by GM Bob Gainey. It began well for the goaltender but injuries and controversies got in the way. Being just 22 years old, there are still things to be figured out.
A happy worker is a productive worker, so it was important for the team to put all possible tools at the disposal of its young goaltending duo. While the team shopped for a new goalie coach and hired former Panthers squad member Pierre Groulx, Price reportedly received a visit from the head coach himself in Western Canada during the summer.
But patience is once again the primary word, as hard as practicing it will be.
Seasons are different, but the pressure remains the same. For a fifteenth time, the Montreal Canadiens will get a chance to redeem and to avenge. Here's to hoping that the new team, coaches, and management continue to carry the torch well.
To check out tournament's picture gallery, courtesy of the Montreal Gazette, please click here.