The Montreal Canadiens have made a decision, hiring Kent Hughes as their next general manager. Hughes joins vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton in a new-look front office and will receive a five-year contract. Gorton released the following statement:
The process of hiring our new general manager allowed us to meet several highly qualified candidates. Kent is the one who stood out the most, and who we believe is the perfect person to fill the position of general manager of the Canadiens. We believe that his extensive experience as an agent will be an important asset to our organization.
Hughes, 51, has no front office experience but that does not mean he’s a newcomer to the hockey world. One of the most decorated player agents in the game, he represented players like Patrice Bergeron, Kris Letang, and Darnell Nurse from his agency Quartexx Management. He’ll now leave that role to take on the weight of Montreal, working as the francophone counterpart to Gorton’s leadership.
First connected to the Canadiens by Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, Hughes has been a longtime friend and associate of Gorton, and fits the profile of an inexperienced, French-speaking general manager that could grow into the role. He was not, according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, part of the initial wave of interviews along with names like Daniel Briere and Mathieu Darche, but he landed the job anyway as a sort of unconventional option. He leaves behind more than $290MM in active contracts according to PuckPedia, as his players will have to find new representation.
The speculation of course that Letang, Bergeron, or others could sign in Montreal will certainly ramp up as they head toward free agency, but there is also another young hockey player that will now be linked to the Canadiens. Jack Hughes–not that Jack Hughes or that Jack Hughes–is a top prospect for the 2022 draft, currently ranked seventh among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. He is a freshman center for Northeastern University who was developed by the U.S. National Team Development Program. He also happens to be the son of the new Canadiens general manager.
With the draft scheduled for Montreal this summer, you can bet that the new front office will be hoping to make a splash. The team has been absolutely dreadful this season, finding the bottom of the barrel after a Cinderella-like run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year. A 5-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday showed just how far things had fallen, as the Canadiens dropped to 7-25-5 on the year, dead last in the league.
Orchestrating a rebuild is not new for Gorton, who was part of the New York Rangers management group that issued a letter to fans before a scorched-earth tear-down. It will be a new experience for Hughes, as will everything about being a GM. Gorton and Hughes are set to meet with the media on Wednesday morning.