Canadiens' Molson Announces Departure Of GM Gauthier In Front Office Shake Up
Canadiens Owner Geoff Molson Thursday announced "sweeping changes to the team’s hockey operations department," as GM Pierre Gauthier was relieved of his duties and Bob Gainey, Gauthier’s adviser, departed from the team, according to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal GAZETTE. Former Canadiens GM Serge Savard is "incoming as a consultant to Molson for the headhunting." Parting with Gauthier "was Molson’s call, not that of an ownership consortium and certainly not that of the opinionated fans who are taking credit for it." Molson said, "The reality is, if you look in the mirror, we haven’t had enough success in the past nine years. Once in a while, these tough decisions have to be made." He added that he "doubted that a GM would be in place by the NHL’s April 10 draft lottery," but instead is hoping to have someone "for the June 22-23 entry draft and opening of free agency on July 1." Stubbs notes Molson sees himself "as a delegator more than a micromanager, so the new GM will indeed run the show." But he "won’t be expected to do it all himself." The timing of the announcement "was curious, to say the least -- it seemed to be shovelling more dirt of speculation onto a mudpile of misery that’s grown deeper by the game." However, it is "inspired -- turn the last 10 days of the season into a small celebration of the promise ahead rather than prolong the autopsy" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/30). SI.com's Stu Hackel noted Molson "made it a point on Thursday to stress that the Canadiens not only had to fix problems on the ice, but that rupture with fans who were embarrassed by this season’s episodes of instability, including the uproar surrounding the hiring of unilingual Randy Cunneyworth as coach" (SI.com, 3/29). In Montreal, Mike Boone notes Molson made "frequent allusion to the fans in his prepared remarks on Thursday." Molson began the press conference by saying in French, "It goes without saying we are very disappointed. This is the best hockey city in the world, and we didn't satisfy our fans' expectations" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/30).
LOOKING AHEAD: Savard said Thursday on CKGM-AM that the next GM "will need to speak French." Savard said, "In this province, to have a position like general manager or head coach of the Canadiens, it doesn’t have to be a guy from Quebec, it doesn’t have to be a French-Canadian, but the guy has to be able to communicate to the people in French. If my guy doesn’t speak English, he’s not qualified either, because he has to communicate with the people in English as well” (MONTREALGAZETTE.com, 3/29). In Toronto, Bruce Garrioch cites NHL execs and agents as saying that the list of candidates for the GM job includes Hockey HOFer Patrick Roy, NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, Lightning Assistant GM Julien Brisebois, Blackhawks Assistant GM Marc Bergevin, CAA's Pat Brisson, Senators Dir of Player Personnel Pierre Dorion and Maple Leafs Assistant GM Claude Loiselle (TORONTO SUN, 3/30).