Hiring the enemy

What, Guy Carbonneau wasn’t available?

Just kidding. We know the odds that Bruins head coach Claude Julien would hire his longtime rival and eventual replacement in Montreal are almost as low as Cam Neely taking over as president the Canadiens. But instead, today Julien hired Carbonneau’s former associate coach Doug Jarvis to replace Craig Ramsay as an assistant on the Boston staff.

The former Selke and Masterton Trophy-winning forward spent the first four seasons out of the lockout as an assistant with Montreal under Julien, Carbonneau and Bob Gainey. He was out of hockey last season after he was fired by the Habs.

Of course, Jarvis’ best playing years also came with the hated Habs, including four Stanley Cup wins in the late ’70s. Let today’s conference call to announce Jarvis’ hiring be lesson No. 1 for the new “eye in the sky”: never mention 1979 in Boston.

“In my playing days, obviously we go back to the late ’70s there and the rivalry that I think has always existed between Montreal and Boston,” Jarvis said today during the call. “For me, those years were special, in terms of especially playoffs and working toward the Stanley Cup. We had some very memorable series, as you all recall, particularly in ’79, the seven-game series in the semifinals. … All terrific series, all very memorable times against a team and an organization that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”

Ugh. 1979? Never happened, Coach Jarvis. Welcome to the Bruins.

To be fair, Jarvis brought up the too-many-men-on-the-ice year and the two Cup final series that preceded it because he was asked by a reporter to reflect on the history. Now as long as he’s not goaded into it again, Jarvis can throw out his glorious Habs memories and concentrate on how he can turn the Bruins into the powerhouse Montreal once was. Luckily for him, Julien doesn’t allow his assistants to speak, so there’ll be little chance of another painful mention.

Julien lauded Jarvis’ knowledge and experience as main reasons he wanted to bring in Jarvis after the departure of Ramsay, who’s now the head coach in Atlanta. Jarvis actually was the head coach in Hamilton (AHL) after Julien and fellow Bruins assistant Geoff Ward before joining the big club at the Bell Centre.

There’s no doubt that Jarvis brings as much to the Bruins’ staff as Ramsay did, if not more. After all, Ramsay also won a Selke Trophy, but he never won a Cup. Ramsay had a couple brief stints as a head coach, while Jarvis was as close to being a head coach as could be, especially at the end of the 2008-09 season, when Gainey was interim head coach and general manager.

Jarvis will be able to work with the young defensemen and add some defensive spice to the forward corps, along with Doug Houda, who will move back behind the bench after three seasons in the press box.

Importing another former Canadiens coach could be a sly move. It never hurts to have plenty of people in the mix that know what the archenemy is thinking and have tasted the ultimate NHL prize. As long as he remembers which side he’s on now, and remembers on what historical points he can no longer speak, Jarvis will work out fine in the Hub.

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