Montreal Canadiens president and CEO Geoff Molson met with the media for more than an hour today to discuss the recent changes in senior leadership. He discussed several things, including the dismissal of former general manager Marc Bergevin, the appointment of the new executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton, and the search for the team’s next GM. The team continues to explain to fans that the next GM will speak french, which immediately set off speculation across the hockey world on who could be a candidate for the job.
One interesting point Molson made, however, is that the Canadiens are open to hiring someone who does not have previous GM experience. The executive pointed to the fact that Bergevin himself did not have any GM experience when he was hired in 2012, and the new front office boss will have Gorton to lean on in a partnership.
With that in mind, Eric Engels of Sportsnet reports that Daniel Briere is “very high up on the list” of candidates for the GM job. That would certainly make sense, given his familiarity with the language, market, and Gorton. The Gatineau native played the 2013-14 season for the Canadiens and has been running the Maine Mariners of the ECHL–a team that was affiliated with the New York Rangers when Gorton was in charge–since 2017. Briere is considered an up-and-coming executive after his long, successful NHL career, though jumping from the ECHL directly into the Montreal GM job would certainly be a leap.
Of course, the Canadiens are likely to hire several people after firing not only Bergevin but also assistant GM Trevor Timmins and seeing assistant GM Scott Mellanby resign. Even Molson admitted today that the job is too big for one person, explaining his regret that he didn’t insulate Bergevin further with another high-ranking executive. Obviously, Gorton–who signed a long-term deal–will be one of the decision-makers, but whoever does take the GM job will need assistants as well.
In all, this should be an exciting search that could result in a huge opportunity being given to someone who has yet to lead an NHL front office. Briere is very high up on the list, but that list is long.