New Man in Montreal
The Montreal Canadiens didn't go for a proven hockey executive or an experienced individual with a history of NHL success when they hired their new GM.
Instead, it appears they were primarily looking for a polar opposite personality to the departed Pierre Gauthier.
While Gauthier was often referred to as "The Ghost" for his aloof ways, and struggled to make useful and friendly connections in the Montreal media, well-connected new Habs GM Marc Bergevin is regarded in the hockey world as one of the funniest men in the sport and one of the most liked.
An example? When a group of locked-out NHLers was touring Europe in 2004, Bergevin was a co-coach with Marty McSorley. McSorley was the bad cop, trying to get the players organized to compete against serious opposition, while Bergevin was the good cop, keeping the players loose. He once gave a pre-game speech wearing a toga. Another time, he popped out of a stick bag nearly naked.
Bergevin, 46 and a bilingual native of Montreal, played 1,191 games with eight different teams as an NHL defencemen of middling ability. He most recently worked in the front office of the Chicago Blackhawks and has also worked for the Hawks as a coach and scout. He is considered very tight with powerful NHL influences like Pat Brisson and Luc Robitaille.
The story of Bergevin's hiring was broken by Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune earlier today.
What will be interesting now is how the stylish Bergevin, who has never been a GM at any level, fills out the rest of his front office to address his own lack of senior executive experience. For example, might Serge Savard stick around as a consultant/advisor? That said, any number of successful NHL GMs - Ray Shero, Stan Bowman, Peter Chiarelli, etc. - did well in their first crack at the top hockey job with various organizations.
The Habs are facing some tough decisions - Scott Gomez may be bought out, according to some reports, while Carey Price needs a new contract - after finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference this season.
As well, the Habs own the third pick overall in this summer's entry draft.