By Apron Basu (The Athletic)

BROSSARD, Que. — It was important and appropriate that Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes began their end-of-season news conference Wednesday with an announcement on the future of coach Martin St. Louis.

Because the future of the team is clearly tied to the coach in so many ways.

The Montreal Canadiens exercising their two-year option on St. Louis — meaning he is under contract through the end of the 2026-27 season — creates a realistic timeline for when this team hopes to be competitive. And not competitive for a playoff spot, but competitive for the Stanley Cup.

Rebuilds can’t last forever, and while patience is needed to see them through properly, expediting them so that the rot of losing doesn’t set in and poison the atmosphere of the team is an important consideration when you look around the league and see rebuilds that simply don’t end. This is why the Canadiens want to aim for the playoffs as soon as next season, even if their building process is nowhere near complete.

In St. Louis, the Canadiens not only have someone they believe can get the most out of their players in their developmental arc, but they also believe they have someone who can attract other players to come play for the franchise, which is just as important, if not more so.

When Gorton was general manager of the New York RangersArtemi Panarin was handed to him on a silver platter as an unrestricted free agent, and it was the city of New York that served as that draw at the time. Whether it’s your city, your history, your weather, your taxation rates, your fan base, every team needs some sort of attraction for talent to choose you over the 31 other teams in the league.

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