Serge Savard finally let himself be convinced. At 73, the former star player and general manager of the Tricolore delves into his memories in the book Canadian to the end the journalist Philippe Cantin.
"He is assuming. He does not present as a superhero. He made mistakes and hindsight allows him to balance things out. But his dismissal clearly remains an injustice in his eyes, even today, "said Philippe Cantin.
The "Senator," who inherited this nickname from his arrival with the Canadian because of his passion for politics, had sworn to tell the truth when he agreed to lend to the exercise.
From the outset, the circumstances of his dismissal as Director General of the Canadian on October 17, 1995 are discussed.
Serge Savard did not see him coming even though at the end of the book, we learn that the then President Ronald Corey gave him a murderous memorandum after the Canadiens missed the playoffs as a result of a season shortened to 48 games due to a lockout.
Corey's words are hard. Here is an excerpt:
"The season that ended May 3 is certainly the most disappointing in Canadian history. (…) We had a serious lack of organization both on the ice and at the administrative level. (…) Although we have had some successes in the last 10 years, I can not accept that we have grown in this way. (…) You will have to change your work habits. (…) Your schedule will have to be entirely dedicated to the team. You can not be absent and think that your leadership will be exercised alone. "
Under the reign of Serge Savard, the Canadian had won the Stanley Cup in 1993.
It is not completely digested because I think this dismissal is an injustice. I did not like the phrase "Although we have had some success in the last 10 years". I have a hard time believing that. We had won the cup 18 months ago, participated in the final in 1989 and we were also champions in 1986.
But do not believe that Serge Savard is angry at Ronald Corey because he has hinted that he spent too much time dealing with his personal affairs, such as the management of Château Champlain, a hotel he was owner.
"I do not hate him. When I see him, I give him my hand and we talk. He was a very good president. I know I took long lunches, but my job was not 9 to 5. It was 24 out of 24. And I did not just send flowers to this book … "
Carbonneau understands him better
More than 120 people attended the launch of this book. Among the guests was his ex-teammate Guy Lapointe.
"With him, the word panic did not exist," said this former member of the famous Big Three with Larry Robinson and Savard.
Gilbert Delorme, Yvon Lambert, Patrice Brisebois, Jose Theodore and Guy Carbonneau also traveled to Chateau Champlain to attend the event.
"He was respected because he respected people," says Carbonneau, whose career with the CH ended because Serge Savard traded him at the St. Louis Blues.
In his anecdotal biography, Savard says that he had asked Prof. Caron, general manager of the Blues he knew very well, not to play Carbonneau in a first pre-season game between the two teams. Montreal after the exchange. This would have been the great return of the ex-captain of the CH and the spectators would have certainly chanted his name.
Serge Savard did not feel like living this way. It was a verbal agreement between the two men.
"I was a bit frustrated, but in hindsight, I understood. After my career, I spent time in the executive offices. I know how it works … "says Carbonneau, finally happy to have been able to pursue his career elsewhere than in Montreal.
Rejean Houle, the man who replaced Savard after his dismissal, did not miss this appointment, always smiling as usual.
Ronald Corey was not there, as was the current president of Canadian Geoff Molson, whom Serge Savard advised during the hiring process of managing director Marc Bergevin with whom he has no contact.
Ex-number 18, whose jersey was removed in 2006, tackles the issue with a bit of bitterness in his book.
I sometimes have a weird feeling. As if my loyalty to the Molson had been stronger than theirs towards me.
Serge Savard does not run away.
"It's just a sentence, but I really think so. The Canadian is a big family. I have a good relationship with them. "
After so many conversations with this important figure in the history of hockey, Philippe Cantin understands Savard's reaction to his relationship with the Molson family.
"Wherever he goes, he represents the Canadian. His true loyalty does not go to men, but to the institution that the Canadian represents for Quebeckers. That's why I chose the title Canadian to the end. "
Follow Béliveau's advice
The Quebec and Canadian politics remain in the background of this biography which tells the story of this Abitibi to the NHL. This story tells us that Serge Savard could have run for the 1968 provincial election during his playing career, but he did not do it.
"I thought about it for two days because I loved it so much," he says.
Jean Béliveau had advised him not to make the jump that he considered "a little premature".
Serge Savard was a member of the Bleu-blanc-rouge organization for 33 years. He participated in the conquest of 10 Stanley Cups and was a member of the Canadian team at the 1972 Century Series. He was also Guy Lafleur's teammate during his glory years and that, in his role as General Manager, who was not able to convince him not to hang his skates so suddenly in 1985.
This book brings to life those moments of crisis that have marked the Canadian. And Serge Savard remembers of course the days that preceded his dismissal.
"Patrick Roy and Mike Keane came to see me to tell me Jacques Demers had lost his room. I was surprised that it came from them. I wanted to consult other players like Vincent Damphousse. But I did not have time to continue my investigation because I was fired. I can not say for sure, but I think I would have exchanged Patrick Roy and dismissed Jacques Demers. I told Ronald Corey that I had the team to win the Stanley Cup two weeks earlier. "
The Canadiens have not been crowned champion since this dismissal …