(Montreal) The year 2023 marked the end of the first full season of the Gorton-Hughes-St-Louis trio at the helm of the Montreal Canadiens.

This trio continues to benefit from the favor of Montreal fans, who demonstrate a patience unimaginable at a time not so long ago.

The Canadian management and its coaching staff continue to emphasize development, but during this time, results progress little, if at all.

In an interview with RDS towards the end of November, Jeff Gorton spoke of a “gap between the improvements observed in the game of our young players and the results which remain the number one evaluation criterion for fans”.

Juraj Slafkovsky has shown progression in his reading of the game and use of his physicality since the start of the season, although this has not necessarily translated into the points column.

Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, acquired this summer from the Colorado Avalanche, could become two important pieces on offense in complement to Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield. However, they must remain healthy.

The defensive core is young and promising. And the bank of hopes goes beyond what we see in Montreal. Logan Mailloux had a good camp before experiencing an up-and-down start to the season with the Laval Rocket. Lane Hutson continues to shine in the American college ranks, while the Habs’ first-round pick in June, David Reinbacher, continues his apprenticeship in Switzerland.

Asked about his club’s progress early in December, general manager Kent Hughes did not try to embellish things.

“There are times or periods when things have gone well, and others not,” he said. This is the nature of the process we find ourselves in.

“We have seen players exceed expectations. There are others from whom we want more. We only played 20 games. It will be easier to evaluate the season when it is over,” added Hughes.

Head coach Martin St-Louis also highlighted a key quality of his general manager after the team’s last training in Montreal this year.

“He always tries to make rational, non-emotional decisions,” he said.

The great debate concerning the identity of the Canadiens’ starting goalie resumed this fall with an interest that had probably not been this high since the Price or Halak question in 2010.

The menage a trois between Samuel Montembeault, Jake Allen and Cayden Primeau has been the talk of the town, and with good reason. The day after the announcement that a three-season contract extension had been granted to Montembeault, the Habs’ starting goalie was… Allen. The latter was then making his 10th start of the season, compared to nine for Montembeault and five for Primeau.

Hughes, however, emphasized that Montembeault was one of the best goalkeepers on the circuit in terms of efficiency rate at 5-on-5.

It’s hard not to wonder if the 20-game streak with a different starting goalie had something to do with management’s indifference to results. Otherwise, why didn’t Montembeault get more starts in the first quarter of the season?

The year 2023 also marked the 30th anniversary of the last Stanley Cup championship by the Canadiens — and by a Canadian team.

Canadiens alumni were treated to a private tribute evening in November at the Bell Centre, combined with a celebration of the career of Doctor David Mulder. If they said they were happy to see each other again after all these years, they also spoke of a “sad anniversary” for the supporters.

“In 2003, I was asked the question and we already found that 10 years was a long time,” recalled the captain of the 1993 edition, Guy Carbonneau.

“At first it was a breeze to be the last captain to win. There, I find it long, he added. And not just in Montreal, across all of Canada. It’s more difficult to understand. »

The expansion of the NHL and the addition of the salary cap are two factors that may have undermined the chances of Canadian teams, according to alumni. The pressure of having to win quickly can also lead a team’s management to make less thoughtful decisions.

The current management of the Canadian, however, seems less inclined to fall into this trap.