In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down the wild week that was in Montreal, which points to an end of general manager (GM) Marc Bergevin’s tenure coming sooner than expected, a possible addition to the front office as a team president and much more.
Joel Edmundson Nears Return
Joel Edmundson has been sidelined since the start of the season with an undisclosed lower-body injury. His recovery has taken longer than desired, but he is now skating with the team in practice and nearing a return.
While Edmundson isn’t expected back in the lineup in the next few days, he could possibly have the green light from team doctors this week. For a team sitting 32nd in the NHL in goals against, his return to help solidify the top four can’t come soon enough.
During the Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins game on Saturday, Nov. 27, news was breaking on television and social media about some moves by team owner Geoff Molson to make some changes with his hockey operations management team.
It was reported that assistant general manager (AGM) Scott Mellanby interviewed for the role as GM or even possibly as team president.
Pierre LeBrun kind of buried the lede, with Mellanby interviewing for GM. That tells us that Marc Bergevin is definitely on his way out, making this season his last as GM In Montreal. It was also announced officially by the Canadiens that Mellanby had resigned.
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According to Lebrun, his resignation was due to not being considered for any new role, and it would make perfect sense that after many years in the Canadiens organization, that Mellanby would have had hopes for upward mobility in his career. Without that possibility, it may be the better choice to move on, especially if there will be a new GM, which would want to bring in their own staff.
Bergevin Was Surprised
It was also reported that Bergevin asked for Mellanby to be his successor according to Louis Jean on the TVA postgame show on Saturday, Nov. 27. The fact that he was no longer in the running for the role likely did sting, especially if he was unaware of the decision to not accept the recommendation.
However, Bergevin should not be surprised that Molson is moving to make these decisions now, with the Canadiens floundering in the standings with a 6-15-2 record and little to no hope of recovery this season. Also, the fact that this is his last season as GM forces Molson to search for replacements. It would seem that his choice to move away from Bergevin and his hand picked staff is the part that Bergevin didn’t expect. However, it is a choice that a large segment of the fan base is ready for.
The GM Will be Bilingual
Chris Johnson of TSN Hockey has reported that the Canadiens will be hiring a francophone or fluently bilingual GM.
Canadiens fans may see this announcement and think to themselves that it is an obvious step. However, outside of the Montreal hockey market, it isn’t as obvious. The unique linguistic demands of the Quebec market and media make it a necessity to have management and coaches who can speak French. It is also a very important issue in a province that is dominated by news about it’s language and culture and, whether it is fair or not, the Canadiens are central to Quebec culture and identity.
A New President?
On the Montreal vs. Pittsburgh pregame show on Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC), Elliotte Friedman dropped a bombshell that the Canadiens had been given permission to speak to former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.
This is a major step for the Habs as they have been opposed, until now, on hiring a President of Hockey Operations, with Molson giving full autonomy to Bergevin. He even went as far as to say why he wouldn’t hire a president:
“I have no intention to hire another president of hockey. There are very few teams across the NHL that do so, and there are a lot of reasons why. Marc is one of the most respected GMs in hockey. He is also now among the most experienced. He is surrounded by people with a lot of experience… like Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe and John Sedgewick. There is a culture team-wide, and surrounding Marc, to never be afraid to question the decisions we take.”Geoff Molson
The fact that Molson is entertaining the idea of a president points to his desire to make a departure from the Bergevin regime, as well as choose to follow a new plan. Gorton has experience as a GM and can be relied upon to oversee the team during the transition to the next GM. He could even allow the organization the luxury of time in their search for a candidate that fits the new direction the Canadiens will likely take.
Patrick Roy Not in the Plans
Fans will undoubtedly begin searching for names to become the next GM of the Canadiens. One popular choice among fans is that of Hockey Hall of Famer and Montreal legend, Patrick Roy.
According to Jeff Marek on HNIC, no one has called Roy or his camp about this possible role. It’s highly unlikely he would be contacted, especially while Molson is focused on finding a President of Hockey Operations. Whoever ends up in that role will then begin the search for candidates. While Roy has the pedigree in Montreal, and is bilingual, he does have a reputation of being someone that needs full autonomy to be satisfied, and if he has to answer to a president, it’s not likely he would have that autonomy.
As the NHL season continues keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for the latest Canadiens news, notes and rumors.
Blain is a regular contributor as a THW Writer. For over 7 years he has been a part time journalist and podcaster covering the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and its affiliates. He has made appearances on various television and radio stations as well as podcasts to discuss the Canadiens, and the NHL. Blain has taken the lessons on integrity, ethics, values and honesty that he has learned as a 29 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and applied them to his work as a journalist with the goal to be a trusted source of information and entertainment.