The Montreal Canadiens have made another front-office change following Scott Mellanby’s resignation yesterday. Per the team, they’ve fired general manager Marc Bergevin as well as assistant GM Trevor Timmins and senior VP of public affairs Paul Wilson.
Bergevin’s been the GM and executive VP of hockey operations for the Canadiens since 2012-13. Under his term, the team made the playoffs six out of nine seasons.
Timmins was named assistant GM in 2017 but had been with the organization in various capacities since 2002.
Jeff Gorton has been hired as executive vice president of hockey operations. Bergevin is expected to be replaced by another French-speaking general manager, as the release states. Gorton will oversee operations on a day-to-day basis while the search for a new general manager continues.
Gorton, 53, was the GM in New York from 2015-2021 and had previously worked with the Rangers and Boston Bruins in several different roles, including scout, director of scouting, director of player personnel, and assistant general manager. His multiple decades in NHL front offices have now led him to one of the most coveted positions in the NHL, but also one with some of the highest pressures.
The Canadiens, the league’s most historic franchise with 23 Stanley Cup championships, made it all the way back to the finals last season but were unable to capture their first title since 1993. Just months later and the organization has collapsed, losing 17 of its first 23 games and owning the league’s second-worst goal differential. The absences of Phillip Danault, Shea Weber, and Carey Price from last year’s playoff team have been catastrophic, with almost no one playing up to their potential on an already underwhelming roster.
Yet, this move comes a day after the Canadiens won their sixth game of the season, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. It needed a 47-save performance from Jake Allen to do it though, and three of the goals were of the empty-net variety, meaning the final score was not indicative of how the game played out. Still, Gorton walks into a fan base that has at least been temporarily subdued, despite some season-long failure.
One of the decisions that Gorton will have to make in this newly announced position is on the future of head coach Dominique Ducharme, who signed a three-year contract extension earlier this summer. Ducharme now has a 21-31-9 record in the regular season as head coach of the Canadiens, a dreadful number that is only partially masked by his playoff success. Yes, he is the coach that led Montreal to the Stanley Cup Finals (though even then, he was replaced for a short period by assistant Luke Richardson), but there have been clear signs that Ducharme either does not know how to properly deploy the roster he has or that the roster is unwilling to accept that deployment.
Mellanby, meanwhile, left the organization after initially believing he would be the next general manager of the team. Marc-Antoine Godin of The Athletic examines the way that team president Geoff Molson handled the situation, including “deep talks” with Mellanby to become Bergevin’s successor. When things pivoted to a president of hockey operations and Gorton, Mellanby’s “trust was broken” according to Godin. That means Gorton will not only need to replace Bergevin but also Mellanby’s position of assistant GM.
The focus of incoming front office members will be interesting, as it is unclear whether the Canadiens brass believes the team to still be in a contending window. There are talented youngsters like Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, and Alexander Romanov, but also too many bloated contracts for players that have not shown an ability to be true difference-makers. The roster should be better than 6-15-2, but it was always going to be a challenge to make the playoffs after some of the key offseason departures.
Poor play from several previously reliable defensive options–including Jeff Petry and newcomer David Savard–may have to be at the top of the list of concerns for the Canadiens. The team got through the playoffs with stingy defense and timely counterattacks, neither of which appear likely on any given night this season. With several long-term deals on the books, including more than $70MM committed to 2023-24 (though that’s counting Shea Weber’s LTIR-bound deal), there is a lot of work to do for a new front office.
Honestly… when will the Canadians learn the GM doesn’t have to be French speaking? Why limit yourselves like that?
I wonder who they have on the shortlist for GM. I am very HAPPY Timmons is gone as well. It is time to make changes to the scouting Dept as well. The drafting this team has done under Bergy has been a black hole.. I believe if your going to hire a French speaking GM, I think Richardson should be head coach till end of year. If team response to him sign him. If not find a new coach. Need to get rid of Savard and other bloated Salaries as well. Time for a rebuild, the proper way.
Why are the Canadians limiting themselves to French speaking GM’s? It’s just ridiculous at this point.
Because the Habs have a social responsibility with their fanbase. It’s always been part of the culture. In foreign regions of the province, some people don’t speak English (but I assume the proportion is decreasing) so they want to stay close to their fanbase. I don’t 100% support but I understand from an organization standpoint. It is also a way to give French-born rookie coaches/gm a first experience (Therrien, Julien, Vigneault, Julien BriseBois, etc). And non-French coaches/GMs could have done better too.
You just have to understand where it all started, the impact that Maurice Richard had on the province (see Clarence Campbell riot), he was the man that rallied the population together versus the English force in the economy and social demographies. This is why the team is like a religion, it’s in the blood of the population.
Same if a team coming from a Native territory would be the most storied franchise in the sport and would like to have someone at the helm that shares a part of its root. Is it necessary? No. But is it understandable? Of course.
You obviously don’t understand the environment, the fact Montreal is the capital of Quebec, the huge French fan base, the tradition and culture, etc. For sure, there needs to be strong French representation. Use your noggin!
It’s still fuc*ing stupid.
@aloop The world is bigger than the street you live on
Quebec City is actually the capital of Quebec…just sayin’.
Montreal has become so multicultural that it could actually be construed as offensive that the French language would be given priority over any other language. Why is it any more important for the GM to speak French than it is Italian or any number of the other routine languages in the city?
vincent k. mcmahon
dave frost nhlpa
ANOTHER LOSS FOR RANDY
ANOTHER LOSS FOR JEFF
headline is on the way….
Please, for the love of God…fire DD…this roster should be much better…he destroyed KK, Romanov and now Caiufiekd
Hate to say the Habs are done anyways but there is always next year..big losses this year Price and Weber being out that is a cause for a losing season..
head coach David Quinn
Rip to the buffest gm in the league. I that role will now be filled by Stevie Y
Why not a Spanish speaking GM, why does it have to be French. Sounds racist to me. Where’s BLM when you need them
Oy vey I say
Not a politicaly correct hire, but two best candidates to check off the French language would be Stan Bowman as GM and Joel Quenville as coach
Oh for pity’s sake, guys.
None of you would vote for, or put up with for a moment, a monoglot Spanish speaker in any position of authority in your home city or state/province. NONE of you. (If you claim otherwise, you’re lying.) The same goes for a coach or GM of your favorite sports team.
And the same paradigm goes for Montreal, where the natives want their management to speak their own language. No one with an IQ higher than the Canadiens’ goals scored total this season should be incapable of wrapping their heads around that.
I’d be fine with it, actually, because it would allow me to laugh at the racists whose heads explode.
So, go on and tell me I’m lying.
if your priorities for politicians and local GMs are the same, even if questionable one way or another, then your priorities are flat out wrong.
@Nha Trang – I contest your assertion, even in politics. I’d rather have someone who actually does the job properly than share a language with them. Especially with politics. I’d rather someone learn the language than the job ;)
Give it a few years, additional steps in AI learning and technology will overcome the language hurdle :) :) :)
You’re a woke then. Useless and indifferent to common sense.
Habs were the biggest fluke last year.
That’s the most dumb thing to say how many French speaking G/M’s and coaches have run teams in non French speaking cities think about that people could be bilingual
@ adam2029 — You mean French-speaking GMs and coaches who couldn’t speak English? Zero. And thank you for playing our “failure to comprehend” game.
As soon as Bowman got fired( Or quit) , I saw this coming. Bergevin got no love after a Finals appearance, and the Hawks have gone nowhere fast for the last 6 years. The good news is the Hawks can make the move now and give Marc the chance to set up his staff. Welcome to Chicago. Cap nightmare but there is some talent to work with for the right person.
So if you don’t speak French they don’t want you? Seems very bigoted but then again it’s Montreal
@detroitfan69 – Maybe they can relax that requirement and settle for somebody who is fluent in Pig Latin. :)
C’mon man, use some common sense for a change.
Yes, Veronica, there IS a Christmas! All eligible Francophones, please step forward.
How crazy would it be if Martin Madden goes from ANA to MTL and then Bergevin gets named GM of the Ducks?
Even crazier would be habs steal eric tulsky from hurricanes.. Does he speak french? He a very smart man any chance he could learn basic french over the olympics break haha
I’m still puzzled about this. If Gorton is hired as the Executive VP of Hockey Ops, who’s the President of Hockey Ops? Doesn’t he usually hire the VP and GM? Who the h.e. double hockey sticks do they expect to hire as GM as a French speaking GM? There are literally zero qualified candidates out there who can right this ship and speak French. Same goes for coaching. I would have named Gorton GM and hired Rick Tocchet as HC but that’s just me I guess. This team is forever doomed as long as they prioritize their public image over winning.
Bergy…..whatever. Timmons….don’t let the door hit you. Lots of picks for lots of nothing.
Scotty Bowman was not a French speaker and yet he did a fine job.
Scotty Bowman grew up in Montreal and speaks fluent French
From Cup finalist to this in about 5 months time. What have you done for me lately! Lol!
Thats what happens when you prioritize anything over performance (language in this case).
Last season Bergevin’s player moves helped them over achieve and reach the Cup Final. So much for thank you’s.
I think Pat Brisson would be a great GM. Smart hockey man…