The boys are back! The first episode of the new season begins with the boys at the golf tournament where all the alternate captains were announced, continued with Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban all talking about what the A means to them, and to the team. Favourite quote by Max: "Everybody knows P.K. likes to talk." And everybody is grateful.
We are walked through training camp and are introduced to the new dressing room under construction. It's now a round room, so that the players can all see each other vs. what it was before, straight benches like at that dinner table for 20 people where you can really only engage with the people beside or in front of you. Speaking of training, seeing these guys at the gym, and working out without their shirts off we are reminded what extraordinary physical shape they're in. And I might be fanning myself and drinking a mint julep on my veranda remarking, "My heavens."
Everything has in fact been remodeled, from the dressing room to the gym to the players' cafeteria. It's first class and everyone is impressed. We're also treated to a peek at the making of the videos for the Canadiens' new global 'Club 1909' campaign to engage and attract fans worldwide. Players will be featured in clips co-starring Montreal's own, Habs' uber-fan and funnyman and Hollywood actor Jay Baruchel. Second favourite quote of the episode by Baruchel: "My dad was Jewish, my mom's Catholic, but I'm a Habs' fan. That's my real religion."
My biggest takeaway from this episode is the unique transformation this franchise has undergone in a very short period of time, entirely related to the appointment of Marc Bergevin to general manager, by Geoff Molson. It's been two years, and the feeling around this club could not have a bigger contrast to what it was in 2012. Anybody who knows anything about organizational design and change management must agree that everything has been done correctly here. From having the forethought to reconstructing and improving the players' "office," to the general manager being present to happily show the players around it, to Geoff Molson's commitment to social responsibility and dedication to fans - it is astonishingly impressive what has been accomplished in two brief years.
In this episode, Geoff Molson is invited to chat at The Canadian Club. "To win, to succeed, the details matter." Maybe this takes over as my first favourite quote. These guys get it. Molson, making sure fans are treated to a unique experience, especially those who can hardly afford it, and involving his players in charitable endeavours and giving back to the community; to Bergevin enjoying his players, putting his arm around Francis Bouillon and laughing, and holding P.K.'s arm as he shows him the new cafeteria, eyes twinkling and hoping P.K. likes it. They care. They're not just grudgingly going through motions and following some handbook. This is a formula for success, the kind of place we all dream of working, where leadership and management care. Success starts there.
The rest follows. And so far, messieurs, so good.