The Canadiens are looking for a general manager to ‘supplement’ a new deputy director of hockey operations

BROSSARD, Que. – While it remains to be seen how the Montreal Canadiens’ two-person approach to hockey operations will ultimately work, new executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton gave an idea of ​​what the team is looking for in its next general manager.

“We will look at all the candidates and choose the very best based on what they have,” Gorton said Friday in his first meeting with local journalists. “Maybe it’s someone who does not have a wealth of experience as a day-to-day manager, but what else do they have that they could bring to the table?

“We’ll be looking for someone who might be a little out of the box who will help us move forward and complement me.”

The Canadiens picked up Gorton as VP of hockey operations after former general manager Marc Bergevin was fired Sunday after Montreal’s disastrous start to the season.

Gorton, who said Friday he agreed to a “multi-year deal,” said the hunt for the Habs’ next general manager has not started yet. He hopes to build up the hiring process in the coming days, but does not have an agreement ready before Christmas.

Canadian owner and president Geoff Molson said last week that the team embraced a two-man job to lead the team’s hockey activities. Gorton said the next GM will have their say in the decision-making process and will be the one who reaches out to other NHL GMs when they eventually take the hot seat.

“I think it was important when I met with Geoff Molson that the general manager has a direct line to Geoff Molson and can make decisions,” Gorton said. “My role is to use all my experience to help that person and help do this. Hold better again.”

“I would not want to be general manager unless I had the power as a general manager.”

Molson has said the Canadiens are looking for a bilingual candidate for GM, given Montreal’s unique situation as the only NHL team in a largely Francophone market.

Gorton, a Massachusetts native and childhood Boston Bruins fan, started his inaugural press conference by reading a statement in French.

“I’m learning,” he said afterwards. “Be patient with me, but I will learn.”

Despite the Habs’ struggles, Gorton said head coach Dominique Ducharme’s job is safe for the 2021-22 season.

Two areas that Gorton has already started working on are player development and analysis.

“I think we need to build (analytics) better, to modernize it,” Gorton said. “I believe in analytics, and I think that’s the way the game has gone. I think that’s a big piece of information that we need to have, and then we want to build a staff that way. . “

Gorton said he likes the player development staff already in place. However, he believes the Canadiens “need more” when it comes to keeping in touch with leads and helping them flourish.

“It’s important to talk to them every day about their game, how they feel about it, nutrition, everything we can offer them,” Gorton said. “The communication from the moment we drafted them all the way to the NHL, I think we can do a better job.”

Gorton is the former GM of the New York Rangers and was an integral part of the team’s recent rebuild. At the time, Rangers publicly announced their rebuilding plans to their fans.

Should there be a reconstruction in Montreal, Gorton would like similar transparency.

“That was the process. We met, we discussed it, we decided to do it and we were pretty open and transparent to the fans, ”Gorton said of his time in New York. “In terms of bringing this up, if that’s what we decide, we’ll be pretty transparent.”

Gorton, who was fired by Rangers in May, saw Laval Rocket, Montreal’s American Hockey League affiliate, on Wednesday and his first Canadiens game, a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. He witnessed the moment midway through the third, when an angry fan threw his Habs jersey on the ice.

“My first concern and my first thought is to the players and to the people who are out there trying their hardest and it’s a tough thing to see,” Gorton said. “Obviously, it’s been a tough time. Everyone can see it, everyone in hockey can see it. It’s been almost a perfect storm against Montreal.

The new VP takes to Nashville with the team to continue watching from above when the Canadiens take on the Predators Saturday night.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on December 3, 2021.

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