Over the weekend, the Canadiens relieved several staff, including Executive Vice President and General Manager Marc Bergevin, Assistant General Manager Trevor Timmins, and Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. , Paul Wilson.
Jeff Gorton has also been hired as Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations.
Before answering questions from the media, Molson explained the rationale behind some of these key changes and what the future holds for the club’s hockey operations department.
After thanking Bergevin, Timmins and Wilson for their services, Molson confirmed that the split with Bergevin came after a period of reflection considering several consecutive mediocre seasons and was almost eliminated in the first round of the 2021 playoffs by the Maple Leafs. from Toronto.
The Canadiens’ poor performance at the start of the year only solidified his decision not to re-sign Bergevin to another long-term contract.
“Our start to the season was unacceptable for the Montreal Canadiens and something had to be done to change direction,” said Molson, who saw the Habs go 6-15-2 after 23 games. “I had no choice but to move forward with these changes to improve the structure of our hockey operations.”
Video: Molson on changes to the management of Canadiens hockey
The process of finding Bergevin’s successor will begin immediately, with help from Gorton.
Once installed, the new CEO and Gorton will form a tight-knit unit.
“Managing CH in our market, which is perhaps the biggest hockey market in the world, is an important responsibility with many angles to cover, including a bilingual market. I think we can maximize our chances of success with a two-op hockey team. managers, ”Molson explained. “Jeff Gorton and the new GM will both play key roles in managing our hockey operations and lead the new start.
Molson is adamant that the Canadiens are ‘turning the page’ with new people at the helm in hopes of becoming a franchise that effectively develops players from within and ultimately rivals some of the league’s best teams of the year. after year.
“I firmly believe that this organization needs a fresh start. At this stage, a new start is not so much at the team level, but rather at the management level, ”insisted Molson. “On the ice we have a much better team than what the results show. A lot of things that blew us away from last summer will be back soon, but just as important, we’ve made 45 draft picks in the past five years since our reset. , and we have 11 more coming to Montreal this year. It is essential that we structure our organization around the proper development of this talent pool. The new management team will be responsible for evaluating our current team and how we can improve in the future.
The Canadians plan to hire a new person to replace Timmins and oversee amateur scouting, and add more diversity to hockey operations, too.
A medical performance team is also being established under the leadership of team physicians Dr David Mulder, Dr Dan Deckelbaum and Dr Ed Harvey who will provide resources to players and staff across the organization in all areas. areas related to the well-being and mental health of athletes.
“We want to set new standards of excellence in hockey operations and improve the way we manage the team on and off the ice,” said Molson. “These new standards include several important organizational improvements, including being better in the draft, being better at player development and better supporting our players so they can be successful in our market.”
Molson closed his opening statement with a special message to fans.
“I cannot thank you enough for your continued support in these difficult and disappointing times. I am making these important changes for better results,” he concluded. “The passion and incredible support you showed in the Stanley Cup Final was extraordinary. I will do my best to bring our team back to the Stanley Cup Final in hopes of bringing a 25th Stanley Cup to Montreal.
Here are some highlights from the question-and-answer portion of Molson’s press conference at the Bell Sports Complex:
Regarding the selection of Gorton as Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations:
“I’m looking at the team he was GM for until the spring of last year, and it seems to be working pretty well. So there must be things he did well. I think, when you do your research on Jeff Gorton, you find that he has a very good reputation not only as a person, but as a CEO and as someone who can build relationships. When I met him, I was very impressed. And when I spoke to other people in my circle around him there were only positive things to say about him. I think we are all going to really love having him here. It will be a breath of fresh air. A fresh start is really important to me, and we’re going to do that.
“He also has a reputation for being a great talent assessor. I think someone who has lasted all these years as a GM must be doing something right.”
On his role as President in light of organizational changes:
“My role as president of the Montreal Canadiens has not changed. I have always operated the same way and will continue to do so. I have always said that Marc Bergevin was responsible for hockey operations and that he had to live with the decisions he made. learned after a lot of thought is that this position demands a lot from a person in this market. I think we’re better off with two people. I am not someone who manages the team. It’s going to depend on the two new people, including Jeff, to manage this team. “
On the contribution of a certain diversity to the service of hockey operations:
“I’m speaking particularly on the hockey operations side, because at Groupe CH, we have a fairly diverse group of people and we have many diversity programs and training programs to educate our employees. I think on the hockey side there is quite a bit of a great opportunity to bring different perspectives into the organization. And that will only make us stronger; it will make us make better decisions. I really believe it. It’s not easy to do, but it’s definitely a priority. With this new leadership team coming together, I think we will be in a much better position to achieve this. “
On the creation of two separate positions to lead the hockey operations department – executive vice president and general manager:
“The important thing is that the GM is responsible for the final decisions about the team. But, to have two people to discuss, debate and have other perspectives to make good decisions, I think we’re better off. These two people are in our market. One of the things we didn’t have to support Marc was two people in the market to help make decisions about transactions and contracts. When there are two people – and Jeff has so much experience – that can only help the GM make the right decision. The structure I am presenting to you today is unique, but we are also in a very unique market. The Montreal Canadiens are very important to our fans. If you look at the structure of the other teams around the league, one way or another they all have experienced advisers, executive vice presidents. is in place to support the ‘general man of the age to make good decisions. “
On what will be the new vision of the hockey operations department:
“I have just hired Jeff Gorton for the long term and I am very excited to find the GM. It will be up to them to come see me and discuss the new vision and the changes we would like to accomplish. A complete rebuild? A re-tool? I’m very happy to have this conversation with them, but it’s too early to answer that question. “
On the possibility of reconstruction:
“Whatever decision they want to make, I’ll stand with them if it’s the right thing for the Montreal Canadiens to be a great team in the long run. I’m not afraid of that word, and I think our fans wouldn’t be afraid of that word either. I am someone who can listen very well, I ask a lot of questions, and I try to make my opinions known. If it is offered to me, I would take everything very seriously.
“Nothing scares me, but what I want is to win. Anything is possible, so I’m not afraid to make a tough decision for the good of the organization.”
On the timeline for filling the CEO position:
“There is no doubt that this will be an exhaustive search. We will search everywhere to find the right person. I always think the sooner the better, but it won’t be at the expense of in-depth research, that’s for sure. Are there any great candidates that some of you are already talking about. I haven’t requested permission from any team to talk to anyone yet, but the first step is to research and make a list and we’ll take it from there.
“We’ll cross that bridge when that happens, but I don’t think we would rush into anything if we think a better candidate will be available during the offseason. We will pick the best candidate no matter what.
“I’m going to do everything I can to try and pick the right person in the short term, because a lot of things happen during the season as well. We have to prepare for the draft, we have to make decisions before the trade deadline. .. If we have the two people in place ASAP, that should help us make better decisions. “