The Montreal Canadiens have fired GM Pierre Gauthier

Canadiens’ owner Geoff Molson will make the official announcement during a press conference at the Brossard Sports Complex at 11h45. The Canadiens are last in the Eastern Conference with a 29-34-14 record and were eliminated from playoff contention on Saturday.

According to Darren Dreger of TSN, no replacement will be named on Thursday. Gauthier, who also worked for the Ottawa Senators, had been promoted to the role of executive vice-president and GM in February 2010 after former general manager Bob Gainey stepped down.

After a rough start, the team stumbled out of the gate and lost its first three home games for the first time since 1938. The Habs continued to struggle through December and head coach Jacques Martin was eventually fired in mid-December.

Former Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Randy Cunneyworth was appointed as interim head coach by Gauthier in a decision that didn’t sit well with the Montreal media and the fans due to Cunneyworth’s inability to speak French. The coaching change also failed to reinvigorate the team on the ice as the Canadiens continued to struggle under Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur, his assistant. The Habs are currently 28th in the NHL with only 72 points in 77 games.

Gauthier made a few questioned moves in the past 12 months:

Last summer, Gauthier gave defenseman Andrei Markov a three-year contract extension with a large $5.75 million cap hit despite Markov’s injury concerns. The 33-year-old has played in only eight games this season. Gauthier could have re-signed offensive defenseman James Wisniewski with that money.

He then traded for defenseman Tomas Kaberle from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek in what can be considered a panic move. While Spacek is slated to become an UFA at season’s end, Kaberle is signed for two more years at $4.25MM/year.

Finally, in January, Gauthier traded disgruntled forward Michael Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames during a game in Boston, in exchange for Rene Bourque, a second round draft pick and prospect Patrick Holland. In 27 games with the Flames, Cammalleri has eight goals and five assists for 13 points. Meanwhile, Rene Bourque has been as bad as he was advertised. The left winger has only four goals and seven points in 33 games with Montreal, along with a miserable -18 plus/minus rating.

The possible candidates include Vincent Damphousse, Julien Brisebois, Marc Bergevin, Jim Nill and former Habs goalie Patrick Roy.

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