The news shook Montreal. Habs president and owner, Geoff Molson held a press conference yesterday to announce the firing of the club’s general manager, Pierre Gauthier. The move was inevitable, given the extremely disappointing on-ice performance this season, and the questionable moves by Gauthier to remedy it, but for many fans it could have came a lot sooner.
Bob Gainey, who was serving as a special adviser to Gauthier, has also stepped aside, which was a mutual decision between Molson and himself. This marks the end of both Gainey, and Gauthier’s nine-year relationship in hockey operations with the organization. Larry Carriere, who has been assistant coach to Randy Cunneyworth since his interim appointment, as well as assistant GM for two seasons, will remain only as the latter for now, and will no longer be behind the bench. Except for Serge Savard, who will be directly assisting Molson in the search for a new GM, it looks as though a clean slate in management is to be the eventual plan. As for interim coach Cunneyworth, Molson said that it will be totally up to the new GM who the coach will be for next season.
During his conference, Molson was quick to say that the list of candidates for GM will “remain confidential,” but that the search begins as we speak. Molson told TSN after the conference, “The process starts today. We’re an open book today. I’m assuming a lot of people will be calling.”
Several media outlets all have the same basic list of top candidates, and they mostly seem to agree on the frontrunners for the job. There are a few guys, like Jacques Martin (fired as head coach in mid-December), Patrick Roy, and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, who some think are sleepers, but they are all highly unlikely.
The frontrunners are as follows:
Julien Brisebois – Current assistant GM with the Tampa Bay Lighting, and has been running AHL teams (including the Habs farm team Hamilton Bulldogs in their Calder cup winning season) for almost five years with great success.
François Giguère – Former Colorado Avalanche GM.
Claude Loiselle – Former assistant GM for Tampa Bay, former Anaheim Ducks scout, and current assistant GM for the Maple Leafs.
Marc Bergevin – Former pro scout for the Chicago Blackhawks, where he helped build their championship team in 2010, and is currently their assistant GM.
These are the top candidates, but only if we are assuming that Geoff Molson will only hire a bilingual GM. The list of options would likely grow considerably if Molson chooses not to discriminate in that respect.
The hunt is on, and time will tell what this team is destined for in 2012-13, but one thing is for certain: Habs fans are excited again.