Canadiens’ Kent Hughes Hiring–New Direction for an Old Franchise

The Montreal Canadiens have finally chosen their 18th general manager (GM). A team consisting of owners Geoff Molson and Micheal Andlauer, Vice President of Hockey Ops (VPHO) Jeff Gorton, and Canadiens alumni and former GM Bob Gainey decided who will lead the organization into the future. The team interviewed around eight candidates for the GM job and narrowed it down to three within a week — Daniel Briere, Mathieu Darche and Kent Hughes. They ultimately decided on Hughes, feeling he was the best complement to work with VPHO Gorton.

Canadiens’ New GM Kent Hughes

Hughes was born in Beaconsfield, a West Island community in Montreal. He never played hockey in the NHL but was a standout player for Middlebury College, where he was the team’s captain in 1991-92. His younger brother, Ryan Hughes, was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1990 entry draft and played three NHL games with the Boston Bruins in 1995-96 before retiring from professional hockey after the 1996-97 season.

Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens GM-Canadiens' Kent Hughes Hiring Signals a New Direction for an Old Franchise
Kent Hughes, Montreal Canadiens general manager (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Hughes later attended Boston College and earned a law degree in 1996. In 1998, he became a player agent when he started representing the first overall pick that season, Vincent Lecavalier. He ran his agency, MFIVE Sport, until 2016 when he merged his company with Quartexx, a Mount Royal based agency. Hughes represented star players such as Patrice Bergeron and Kris Letang while with Quartexx.

Hughes Fits GM Profile

The Canadiens have a history of hiring GMs and head coaches who can speak fluent English and French. The last strictly English-speaking GM was Sam Pollock, whose last season was 1978; since then, all the GMs have been bilingual. There have been eight GMs since Pollock, and only one was born outside of Quebec: Canadiens legend Bob Gainey. Gainey’s first language was not French, but he did learn it and could speak it quite well. On the other hand, Hughes was born in Montreal but has lived in Boston for the past 20 years; with the hiring of Anglophone Gorton, many Quebecois feared the Habs would have an all-English management group.

Related: Canadiens Eras Under Hughes, Bergevin Strikingly Similar to Start

There have been some grumblings on social media regarding whether or not Hughes was French enough since he has been living in the United States for the past 20 years and he doesn’t have a francophone name. Canadiens’ Head of Communications Chantal Machabee assured everyone that Hughes was fully bilingual and they had nothing to worry about before the press conference. When it comes to language and culture in Quebec, there will always be groups that want more, they will want a more Quebec-type person with a French name and a Quebec residency, but in the end, Hughes fits the profile for a Canadiens GM.

Hughes Confident He Can Do the Job

The Canadiens held a presser at the Bell Center to introduce the new GM. Gorton and Molson were also present, and they opened the floor to the media for questions. During that period, both Gorton and Molson were very impressed with Hughes. They knew he would be a top candidate from the start. But at first, Hughes wasn’t sure if he wanted the job, and the Canadiens had to come back to him later on in the interview process. Hughes and Gorton have known each other for years, but Gorton says he is not his best friend and that their relationship had no bearing on the hiring.

Jeff Gorton-Canadiens' Kent Hughes Hiring Signals a New Direction for an Old Franchise
BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 25: Jeff Gorton, now VPHO of the Montreal Canadiens, during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016, in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hughes believes his experience dealing with the 32 other GMs will help him become a good GM in the NHL. He will be an excellent complement to Gorton because he knows how to deal with players and agents and how they think during negotiations. His years as an agent also helped him learn how to adequately develop a player and use their strengths to improve their play. Gorton will probably deal with most of the drafting and growing side of the hockey operations, while Hughes will work mainly on the money aspect of contracts and dealing with the cap.

With Gorton and now Hughes at the helm of the Canadiens, it looks like they will be headed in the right direction. It may take some time, but this new team so far has said all the right things, and it looks like they have a clear plan of what type of team and culture they want to bring to the organization. If they succeed, the Canadiens could be back on top sooner than later.

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