It has been a busy few days for the Montreal Canadiens. First, Scott Mellanby resigned as the Assistant General Manager of the team on November 27th. The following day, the hammer fell. Owner Geoff Molson announced the firing of GM Marc Bergevin, Assistant General Manager Trevor Timmins and senior vice president Paul Wilson. He also announced Jeff Gorton was hired as the new vice president of hockey operations. Now the search is on for the new GM. Here are some candidates for the Montreal Canadiens GM position.
The Next Montreal Canadiens GM
In a press conference, Molson said the new GM will be working in tandem with Gorton to guide the franchise moving forward. Molson also put an emphasis on the need to draft and develop better than the Habs have done in the past.
It has been an extremely disappointing start to the season for the Habs. After making a surprise run to the Stanley Cup finals, the Habs have been a disaster this year. They hold a 6-15-2 record and sit 29th in the league. On top of this bad start, the future of Bergevin was up in the air. He was in the final year of his contract and it was reported talks had broken off. So fans and pundits had already been theorizing who the next GM of the Habs would be before the news broke of his firing. So, who are the candidates to be the next Montreal Canadiens GM…
*With this search, there is always the need to remember that the Habs require their candidates to be bilingual so that will narrow the search.
Martin Madden, Jr.
Martin Madden, Jr. is currently the assistant GM of the Anaheim Ducks. He has held the role for the past two seasons. The 12 years before that he was the team’s head of amateur scouting. Madden broke into the NHL in 1998 as a scout for the New York Rangers. He also served as a scout for the Carolina Hurricanes before joining the Ducks in 2008.
With Molson specifically mentioning the need to improve drafting and development, Madden has an impressive track record with the Ducks. In his 12 years as the head of amateur scouting for the Ducks, he routinely filled the Ducks prospect pool with NHL-level talent. In his first year, he selected Kyle Palmieri at the end of the first round while nabbing Sami Vatanen in the fourth. The following year, he nabbed Cam Fowler (first round) and Devante Smith-Pelly (second round). In 2011, the Ducks drafted Rickard Rakell, John Gibson, William Karlsson and Josh Manson. The Ducks selected Hampus Lindholm with the sixth pick in 2012 and Frederik Andersen in the third.
Habs fans might remember that the Ducks took Shea Theodore one pick after the Habs reached for Michael McCarron at the 2013 draft. In 2014 the Ducks selected NHL regulars Nick Ritchie, Marcus Pettersson, Brandon Montour, and Ondrej Kase. Under Madden, the Ducks seemed to add two NHL-level players each draft which is a great success rate.
Madden seems like a good choice but there is the current Ducks GM issue. Bob Murray resigned which leaves the Ducks looking for a new GM as well. Madden has to also be in consideration for the Ducks job as well.
Mathieu Darche has been with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the past two years as their Director of Hockey Operations. That means he has been working very closely with Lightning GM (and former Habs Director of Hockey Operations) Julien BriseBois. Darche has been tasked with helping out BriseBois in every facet of his job. That includes negotiating contracts, pro and amateur scouting, salary cap management and trade negotiations. Darche would have played a role in Tampa acquiring Barclay Goodrow, Blake Coleman and working the cap to facilitate the three-way deal that landed Tampa David Savard. These players helped the Lightning to win back-to-back Stanley Cups the past two seasons.
The concern is Darche is relatively inexperienced. He has only been in hockey management for two seasons. The Habs might not want to deal with the headaches of a rookie GM still learning the ropes of NHL management.
This might work well, however, with Jeff Gorton acting as the overseer and mentor with Darche gaining more experience in the role. Darche is a sentimental favourite as he is a former Hab. Darche was an overachiever that made him a fan favourite in Montreal as a player.
Luongo, like Darche, has limited experience as an NHL executive. he currently is the special advisor to the GM for the Florida Panthers. This is his second season in the role. On top of his role with the Panthers, Lunogo has been named the GM of Team Canada for the upcoming World Hockey Championships and is part of the management team for the 2022 Olympics. The opportunities with Hockey Canada are a bit telling. With the amount of talent Hockey Canada has to choose from for these roles, it seems like people see something special in Luongo.
It might be hard to pry Luongo from Florida however, as it seems he is being groomed for their GM role. Still, with the position available now, the time might be right to bring Luongo into the fold. Pairing him with the experienced Gorton would allow Luongo to grow (hopefully) into the executive many see him becoming.
Not a name that might jump off the page, but Daniel Briere‘s name is getting a bit of buzz as of late. Currently, Briere serves as the ECHL’s Maine Mariners GM, vice president of hockey operations and team president. The Mariners are the Boston Bruins ECHL affiliate. Briere joined the Mariners in 2017 as the VP of hockey ops and his role has expanded in each season since.
Based on what I’ve been told, Daniel Briere is very high up on the list of candidates being considered for GM of the Canadiens.
— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) November 29, 2021
As for NHL experience, Briere served as special advisor to the GM with the Philadelphia Flyers for two seasons before joining Maine. Briere is short on experience but with the Habs management structure, Briere would be able to tap Gorton for advice and guidance.
The Wild Card
Any time there is any kind of opening with the Montreal Canadiens, without fail, Patrick Roy‘s name comes up as a potential suitor. The Habs and Roy have… history. Still, Roy’s name always comes up as someone the team needs to tap into to turn things around.
Right now, Roy is the Head Coach and GM of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts and has been since 2017-18. Before that, he had a stint as the Head Coach of the Colorado Avalance. While things started well for Roy, he won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2013-14, things slowly regressed during the next two seasons. After the 2015-16 season, Roy resigned, citing philosophical differences with GM (and former teammate) Joe Sakic. Unfortunately for Roy, Colorado has been on the ascension ever since.
A concern would have to be how Roy would be working with Jeff Gorton. Roy is an alpha-type personality who may only want to do things his way.
The Outside the Box
Danielle Goyette would be a very interesting option and one that is outside the norm for the NHL. She would be the first woman to be an NHL GM. If nothing else, Goyette would bring a winning culture to the Habs that they have been missing for some time. As a player, she won two Olympic goal medals and eight World Championships. She also netted 218 points in 171 international games.
Goyette then began coaching the Calgary Dinos Women’s hockey team in 2007. During her time with the Dinos, Goyette amassed a 213-197 record and one Interuniversity Sports Championship in 2011. Currently, she works as the Director of Player Development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Habs rivals might not be so willing to let her go, but as always in business agreements can be made.
Goyette is another option that is short on experience but has shown an ability to learn and adapt quickly. She also brings one hell of a winning attitude and culture with her. While this may be a long shot (just based on the NHLs old boys network) it would be intriguing to see Goyette be mentored by someone like Gorton and grow into the role.
The Know It All
No… just no. Moving on.
The Next Montreal Canadiens GM
It is difficult to say who is in the pole position to land the job right now. One thing is for sure, the Habs aren’t going to want to wait too long picking Bergevin’s successor. With the season pretty much lost, the new GM is going to have to come in and assess the situation to see who fits in with their new direction as well as get ready for the trade deadline, the draft (in Montreal), and free agency.
Still, there are some intriguing names for the Habs to consider, especially with an experienced VP of hockey ops already in the fold. This will help with the learning curve for whoever takes over as GM, something the Habs have not had in place before. Another interesting thing is that the Habs could assemble more than one of these candidates to fill other management roles as well. All are seen as having bright futures in hockey management.
Needless to say, whoever the next Montreal Canadiens GM will be, the Habs management will very different than it has been at any point in the last 30 years, which is kind of exciting.