Canadiens Make Right Move by Trusting Gorton with GM Search

The Montreal Canadiens are in the midst of one of their worst seasons ever, and so far, owner Geoff Molson has been silent. General Manager (GM) Marc Bergevin is in the last year of his contract and has already stated he won’t be making a move just to make a move. The Canadiens are 23 games into the season, and have almost no chance of making the playoffs, so if they plan on replacing Bergevin, they should do it before Christmas to allow a new regime to have time to evaluate. It seems like Molson is ready to start that process.

Canadiens Hire Gorton as Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations

The Canadiens were permitted by the New York Rangers to talk with their old GM Jeff Gorton, and hired him to be the new Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations (VPHO). Gorton was the interim GM for the Boston Bruins in 2006 and was in control for the 2006 draft. Gorton drafted Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, and traded Andrew Raycroft for Tukka Rask. He also signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard during his time as interim GM. After only four months, he was replaced by Peter Chiarelli and dismissed from the Bruins organization altogether. Gorton then joined the Rangers as a pro scout, and eventually become GM in 2015, replacing Glen Sather. He was let go by the Rangers in 2021.

Jeff Gorton
BUFFALO, NY – JUNE 25: Jeff Gorton during the 2016 NHL Draft with the New York Rangers.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This hiring will allow Molson to hire a new GM with little to no NHL experience at the GM level, which is fine. Most new GMs are former assistant GMs anyway; Gorton gives this new GM a chance to have an experienced advisor guide him along as he grows in his role. Molson will have less input on the team and distance himself from the everyday operations of the Canadiens. Molson won’t be entirely out of the picture, but he can concentrate on other things within his business and let the hockey people deal with the hockey side.

Canadiens Relieve Bergevin and Timmins of Thier Duties

The Canadiens announced that GM Bergevin and AGM Trevor Timmins have been relieved their duties. This is no surprise with the hiring of Jeff Gorton as the new VPHO, and he is now free to hire how he believes will do the best job to improve the team. These firings come days after AGM Scott Mellanby resigned his position; Molson told Mellanby he wasn’t in the running for the GM position, which led to his departure.

Marc Bergevin
Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz)

Bergevin had been the Canadiens GM for nearly decade, leading the team to two Conference Finals and one Stanley Cup Final. He was well-respected around the league and was very adept at asset management and conducting trades. His weakness, however, was the development of prospects and the construction of the Habs’ defence; instead of puck-movers, Bergevin seemed to want his defenders to be big stay-at-home guys, which stunted the Canadiens offence. Timmins was with the Club for 18 seasons and worked under four GMs. He worked up from being the head of scouting to AGM and was the main person in charge of the Canadiens’ European Combines and the draft.

Canadiens Begin Search for New GM

Gorton will now assist Molson in searching for a new GM to replace Bergevin. They will want to get this search done as soon as possible, but with Gorton as the VPHO, they don’t have to rush. Gorton is a very experienced GM and can do the duties until available. According to Molson, the new GM will speak French, so the pool will be narrowed down to bilingual candidates only.

Related: Canadiens Need to Clean House From the Top Down

Gorton’s experience helps the organization to be able to hire an inexperienced GM who can learn and be mentored by Gorton. The top candidates for the job are Tampa Bay Lightning’s AGM Mathieu Darche and Anaheim Ducks’ AGM Martin Madden. Gorton and Molson will work together to hire who they feel is the best candidate; this will likely happen quickly, and the Canadiens could see a new GM by the end of the week.

The Canadiens are now in an area of uncertainty. Will they rebuild or repair what is broken? They have a few assets they can unload to help with the draft and the cap. Gorton will look at all this, and with his new GM, come up with a plan; he has had success everywhere he has gone and, let’s be honest: the new GM will just be learning from Gorton his first few years, and Gorton will be the one making the decisions.

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