It’s been exactly 1 week since Geoff Molson (Owner, CEO and President of the Montreal Canadiens) announced that General Manager Pierre Gauthier has been relieved of his duties and that Bob Gainey would also no longer serve as a Senior Advisor to the organization. It was a much needed changing of the guard for a hockey team that has long been known as being an old boys club.
Naturally, the talk over the past week in Montreal has been about who will be the successor to Mr. Gauthier. With the help of Serge Savard, Molson has begun his search for the best man for the job. Here are 5 candidates who are considered to be among the front-runners right now.
If for some reason I were asked to make this decision, Marc Bergevin would be my choice. He is currently the Chicago Blackhawks Assistant GM, but he also has experience in many different areas including playing, coaching and scouting. In fact, he has served as Director of Pro Scouting and as Director of Player Personnel for the Blackhawks. While I think that a variety of experience is vital, I especially like the fact that he has been part of a successful organization in recent years.
It is said that a GM must be first and foremost “an expert on their own team”; and none of the candidates know the Canadiens like Julien BriseBois. He was with the Habs for many years and is currently Steve Yzerman’s Assistant GM in Tampa Bay. I recognize that BriseBois is a very good candidate, but he is my least favorite on this list; and I say that solely because of his ties to the old regime. They need fresh blood and to start running things differently, and BriseBois could easily be a step sideways.
Over the last decade, more and more agents have been making the jump to a General Manager position. That said, I was still surprised to hear today from a source that Brisson being contacted by the Canadiens is not just the team doing their due diligence, rather they are keenly interested in him. If the priority ends up being to find someone who can sell players on the idea of playing in Montreal and who can be a good communicator to the fans and the media, Brisson vaults to the top of the list.
Short of calling Florida to ask for permission to talk to Dale Tallon, the only person that the Canadiens will find who is bilingual and who has actual experience as a General Manager is Francois Giguere. Giguere was the GM of the Colorado Avalanche for 3 seasons, a time period where the Avs made the playoffs once. While his experience is a pro, the con is that he has been out of the league for 3 years.
Claude Loiselle is currently Brian Burke’s Assistant GM in Toronto, but his experience goes well beyond that. He played in the NHL for 13 seasons, has a law degree, worked for the Tampa Lightning as their Assistant GM, worked for the NHL’s Hockey Operations department and did some scouting for the Anaheim Ducks. It should be noted that Loiselle and Kevin Gilmore (Canadiens’ COO and Executive Vice President) have a very good relationship.
In terms of a wild card candidate, I would like to see Blair Mackasey get some consideration. I don’t know if he is ready to be a General Manager, but I do believe that if any of the 5 names discussed are hired, all of them would be well served to bring on Mackasey as their Assistant GM. To answer a few questions that will come up – Why no Patrick Roy? Because he is better suited to be a coach than a GM. Why no Pierre McGuire? Because even though I feel he is an excellent candidate, its hard for me to imagine someone who is as outspoken as he is getting the job. Think about the number of players and executives around the league who may hold grudges against him for things he has said over the past 10+ years working in the media.
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.