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Coaches returning, new GM named in Hamilton

Montreal Canadiens executive vice president and general manager Bob Gainey announced today the appointment of Julien BriseBois as general manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs.

BriseBois, in his first act as general manager, announced that the Canadiens have signed Don Lever and Ron Wilson to multi-year contracts as the Hamilton Bulldogs’ head coach and assistant coach, respectively.

Lever, who became the sixth head coach in Hamilton Bulldogs history on July 28, 2005, returns for his third season with the club. In his first two seasons in Hamilton, the 54-year-old native of South Porcupine, Ont., posted an overall regular-season record of 78-69-3-10 (.528). Last season, Lever led the Bulldogs to a 16-6 postseason record and a Calder Cup championship, the first in the 11-year history of the franchise.

Prior to joining the Bulldogs, Lever was an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues for two seasons (2002-04) and spent 12 seasons in the Buffalo Sabres organization. Lever began his coaching career as a Sabres assistant in 1987-88 and served as head coach of the Rochester Americans from 1990-92 before returning to Buffalo as an assistant for the 1992-93 campaign.

wilson-ron_200.jpgIn his first season with Rochester in 1990-91, Lever won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach.

During his playing career, which included 1,020 games in the National Hockey League, Lever also suited up for Rochester in 1985-86 and 1986-87, winning the Calder Cup in the role of player/assistant coach in his final pro season.

Wilson, a 51-year-old native of Toronto, returns for his fifth season as an assistant coach with the Bulldogs. Wilson also served as an AHL assistant coach for four seasons (1996-2000) with the Springfield Falcons and two seasons (2000-02) with the Saint John Flames, winning the Calder Cup in 2001 with Saint John.

Wilson also played 832 games in the NHL and 427 games in the AHL, winning a Calder Cup as a rookie with Nova Scotia in 1977.

brisebois_200.jpgAt 30, BriseBois becomes the youngest current GM in the American Hockey League. The native of Greenfield Park, Que., was named the Montreal Canadiens’ vice president of hockey operations on July 24, 2006. He originally joined the Canadiens organization in 2001 as director of legal affairs, and was promoted to director of hockey operations and legal affairs in 2003.

His duties include all aspects of contract preparation and negotiation, salary arbitration, player transactions, the interpretation of the National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement and league rules and assessing their impact on day-to-day operations.

Prior to joining the Canadiens organization, BriseBois was practicing at the law firm Heenan-Blaikie, where he represented several National Hockey League and Major League Baseball clubs in arbitration cases, and acted as an advisor in contract negotiations. He also participated in the production of legal documents for the QMJHL and in motor sports.