Who will be next Habs' GM?
One of hockey’s most prestigious jobs is open after Montreal Canadiens president Geoff Molson fired Pierre Gauthier on Thursday and announced the process of replacing him has officially commenced.
Julien BriseBois: The assistant GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning is considered a bright, up-and-coming star in the industry. The knock against him is that he isn’t a former NHL player, but those who have worked with him will tell you he’s not just a CBA/cap expert but also has a keen eye for talent. Given that he previously worked in the Habs’ front office, he’s a pretty obvious choice to get a serious look, and I consider him the top candidate at this point very early in the search process.
Marc Bergevin: The Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM will one day be a GM in the NHL. To be able to do it in his native province would be a blast for him. He’s picked up important front-office experience in Chicago and those who know him believe he has a terrific eye for talent. Some may feel he needs more front-office seasoning, but he’s certainly one to watch.
Francois Giguere: Currently out of hockey, the former Colorado Avalanche GM and Boston Bruins scout is well-respected in hockey front-office circles and is seen by some as a darkhorse candidate in this race. Some industry sources believe he got a raw deal in Colorado and would do a good job if given another GM chance.
Vincent Damphousse: The former Habs captain has a relationship with Savard from his playing days when Savard was GM of the Habs. They won a Cup together there in 1993. Damphousse has always been a cerebral type, active as a player within the NHLPA and post-playing career as a short-lived executive within the players’ union. The knock against him is that he doesn’t have any management experience on an NHL team. If hired, he would need some sort of senior advisor or mentor to help him navigate. Did we mention his relationship with Savard? Not to be lost in Damphousse’s candidancy is also the fact that he’s good friends with Patrick Roy, whom no doubt he would consider as Habs coach.
Claude Loiselle: As assistant to the GM in Toronto, the hard-working Loiselle negotiates player contracts for the Maple Leafs, and he also has important experience at the league head office. He’s going to be a GM one day and the Habs should give him a look if they’re smart.
Patrick Roy: He’s told people he’d rather just be a coach when he makes the jump to the NHL, but other people I spoke with Thursday also believe that if Roy figures this is his only chance at getting a foot in the door in Montreal, it’s not totally inconceivable he might try to eye both jobs in Montreal.
Pat Brisson: The mega agent, who represents the likes of Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews, is a native Quebecer and has been seen by some as a possible GM one day. Still, given how successful his business is and the fact his kids’ roots are in Los Angeles, where he’s based out of, it would be a long shot.
Pierre McGuire: The well-known TV analyst and former NHL assistant coach has been interviewed in the past for GM jobs but hasn’t left the screen yet. Obviously the allure of running the team in his former town would be appealing to him. He knows the game inside out and he’s bilingual.
Andre Savard: He was GM of the Habs from 2000-01 through 2002-03, replaced by Bob Gainey. Currently a pro scout with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Savard has a keen hockey mind and some people believe he deserves a second shot at management.
Doug Risebrough: The former Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames GM isn’t French-Canadian, but he is a former Habs player from their ’70s heyday. He’s currently a consultant for the New York Rangers.
Pierre Lacroix: He’s certainly the most accomplished on this list GM-wise, but the Colorado Avalanche president told me during All-Star Weekend in Ottawa that he wasn’t up to the day-to-day rigors of being a GM again. The 64-year-old has battled health issues over the past few years.