Montreal Gives Coach New Deal

Actress Cynthia Nixon arrives at the cast party for "The Public Sings: A 50th Anniversary Celebration" Jan. 30, 2006, in New York.
GETTY IMAGES/Scott Gries

Coach Alain Vigneault was given a one-year contract extension by the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, tying him to the NHL club through the 2000-2001 season.

Vigneault, 37, was also given a substantial pay raise, said general manager Rejean Houle.

Only hours after the new deal was announced, the Canadiens were clobbered 9-2 by the Boston Bruins.

"This has to be very difficult for him," said winger Mark Recchi. "He got a new contract and we embarrassed him."

But Recchi lavished praise on his boss.

"He's a tremendous coach and he'll be a good coach in this league a long time."

Financial terms of the deal were not released. Vigneault was to earn about $240,000 this season.

"I got an extension last year and now Alain will be on the same years as me," said Houle, who is also signed until 2001. "I won't reveal numbers, but he will be very well paid."

"He'll be in the middle of the pack in terms of coaches around the league. We wanted to show that we're satisfied with the job he's done."

Vigneault posted a 37-32-13 record last season, his first as an NHL head coach, after he was hired away from the Beauport Harfangs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The former St. Louis Blues defenseman was an assistant coach under Rick Bowness with the Ottawa Senators from 1993 to 1995.

Houle said he planned to give Vigneault an extension during the summer, but waited until he had his 10 free agents signed.

Vigneault's assistant coaches, Dave King, Roland Melanson and Clement Jodoin, are signed through next season.

"What I appreciate about Alain is that he understands what goes on in the front office and what we have to deal with," said Houle. "For the good of the organization, he lives with the decisions that are made."

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