Bergevin Out, Gorton In
The Montreal Canadiens kicked off their 2021-22 season with their worst start in franchise history. Following a Stanley Cup Final run in the 2021 playoffs, the Habs’ 6-15-2 start has been nothing but underwhelming. It was inevitable that some sort of change on the hockey side of the organization was going to happen- and, with the rumours of the Habs potentially firing General Manager Marc Bergevin, it seemed like the organization would finally move on from the long-criticized GM.
Born in Montreal, Bergevin had an extremely successful career on the ice, playing nearly 1,200 games in the NHL. His transition upon retirement was quite easy as he found himself working as a scout for the Chicago Blackhawks only two seasons later. From there, Bergevin built himself a resume as a builder, moving up the ranks in the Blackhawks organization to become Assistant General Manager before signing with his hometown Canadiens as General Manager and Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
Bergevin’s time in Montreal was one to remember. It is important to recognize that his critics and supporters had been vocal throughout his entire time there. But, looking at the big picture, he had a good run. Some of his most notable moves were the acquisition of Jeff Petry, the Subban-Weber blockbuster deal, the package deal to receive Phillip Danault and draft Alexander Romanov, and the selling of our previous captain Max Pacioretty in exchange for Tomas Tatar, Nick Suzuki, and a 2nd round pick. These moves came together to construct a roster that went to the Stanley Cup Finals years later. Jeff Petry was the top defenseman, Shea Weber was the 30th captain in franchise history, Phillip Danault was the crucial shut-down centre, Romanov the top prospect, Nick Suzuki the top prospect turned all-star, and Tomas Tatar the regular-season points leader. With it all said and done, Bergevin can have something to be proud of as he moves on from this chapter of his career.
The new boss of the Canadiens’ front office is Jeff Gorton. Hired as Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, it is now his ship to run as the Canadiens continue to look for a new General Manager. The criterion for this role is bringing a new vision to the team and, most importantly, the ability to speak both English and French. The top candidates at the moment are Mathieu Darche, the current Director of Hockey Operations of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and Martin Madden Jr., the Assistant General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks.
Jeff Gorton has spent most of his career with the Boston Bruins as Assistant General Manager and with the New York Rangers as General Manager. He’s contributed to the drafting of Brad Marchand (Rd 3, 71 ovr) and Milan Lucic (Rd 2, 56 ovr), trading for Tuukka Rask in exchange for Andrew Raycroft, and signing Zdeno Chara who would become the long-time captain for the Bruins. Furthermore, he brought to the Rangers Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin, and a rich prospect pool.
As for the Montreal Canadiens, Gorton has the ability to reset an organization by establishing a foundation for a long-term successful team. His expertise is scouting and developing prospects to reach their potential. He builds through the draft to create rosters that make deep playoff runs year after year. This is exactly what the Canadiens need; Montreal is excited to see what he can do to turn this team around.