So it's happened, the axe has fallen and the Canadiens have relieved Pierre Gauthier of his duties.
The criticism about strange timing is strange in itself. Who cares? The team has nothing left to play for and the GM had nothing left to do. Better that a lame duck be replaced than not.
The team will be rudderless (especially if you consider it's Molson in charge) for the next few days and then will hopefully be applying all their effort to finding excellent personnel to fill the important role of GM and whatever else is left open by a shuffle.
As the surprise move shows, no one really has any idea on how and when the Canadiens might act in this search. As such, I thought I'd provide open speculation on all the candidates for the GM job that I could think of before my fingers got tired.
Key people within the organization
Needs no introduction. He ceded the reins before for lack of passion/interest/whatever, but then never really left the team. Not sure how active he has been in his advisor role, but in terms of hockey people within the upper echelon of the organization's structure, he's top at this point. I don't think his return would be well received this time, however, so my prediction is that if he remains it will be in the shadows.
Montreal fans are notoriously demanding and continue to rue every draft pick that goes wrong. All this despite the fact, the Habs have been pretty much the best by a few measures of drafting since Timmins was brought in. There's more to being a GM than drafting and scouting. What's more, it may not be wise to mess with a successful formula just because he's the most deserving candidate at first glance.
This guy is reputed to be a talented scout, and so he should stay. He's got experience and could probably pull off the job. Like Timmins, I like him in a full scouting role if he's the star his backers say he is, because the Habs are in a rebuild.
He benefits from a few key points on his resume. First, he's new and so not associated or in anyway responsible for the more disastrous moves (Gomez) the organization has made recently. Second, he's been a GM (briefly) and an assistant GM in Buffalo. Third, he can communicate to both streams of media. He's not a sexy choice given his association with the recent coaching of the team. But we're not suggesting he be considered for the coaching job.
Nepotism. How much of it figured in this hiring? I really know nothing of this guy other than he had a father with clout. He's currently occupying a top-level role with the team, so he's worth a mention.
Key people outside the organization
Former coach. Former GM. "Speaks" French and English. Knows hockey. He's on all the lists for sure. But again, he may not exactly represent a sexy choice or a departure from the stagnant old ways of doing things. Personally, I think the way he thinks about hockey is right and suits this group of players. I'd accept this choice.
Someone help us. If you want to know what happens when someone spends more energy concerning himself with public image than team composition, look no further than the GM of the team with the longest playoffless and Cupless streak in the league. McGuire strikes me as the same type of person. He is stubborn in arguing his point of view to the point that it seems to get all consuming. I'm not sure a GM in a city with a million opinions will find the time to do much team building when defending his positions night and day.
This is Detroit's next in line. What he would bring might be an instant improvement in the way the team looks at development. If Timmins got some development gurus to work with, the team might take off. I don't know if Nill fits the bill, but he'd surely know some people to hire.
On the list of Quebecois who sued to be GMs. I don't look at Lacroix's record with the same rose-glasses as many others do. He inherited a team poised to be champions and he didn't mess it up. Kudos for taking advantage of a green GM trading a superstar goalie, but otherwise show me why he's up to building challenge.
The team's former capologist is a hot candidate. But this isn't about capology, and this isn't Hamilton or Tampa we're talking about. It may make more sense to bring him back into the fold in a slightly more sheltered role.
In retrospect, our complaints about Savard were a bit like our complaints about Timmins. A spoiled group of fans unwilling to accept that 15 more teams meant less frequent Cups. Savard was a good GM. Sure he made bad moves, but evidence might show he was less than free to do otherwise (Corey). The real question with Serge is why would he want to take this on? He certainly knows what the job entails.
If you want to believe Bruce Garrioch (from which day, you say?), then Marc Bergevin is a candadate here. He's a Quebecois holding an assistant GM post on a success story, so I guess he just connected the same dots we all did. But he's very fresh to the assistant GM role, so I wonder why he'd even be ahead of BriseBois.
This one's from me. Look Phoenix is done as a hockey destination, aren't they? The man who built the groundwork of a perennial challenger from basically nothing should be mooving to the province one way or the other. As an ambitious young GM, why wouldn't his ears perk up with the news of an opening? There are manay reasons why he wouldn't be the right candidate, but anyone that can egt David Rundblad for Kyle Turris has a fan in me. Perhaps competition from Edmonton here though.
Another one from me. I don't know if he's in trouble with the Wild. They probably aren't too thrilled with their standing either. Either way, Current GMs are free to explore their opportunities aren't they? Maybe not. Anyway, my point being he is a Montrealer, in charge of scouting for Anaheim in the much ballyhooed draft of 2003 where they were clear winners, apprenticed in Pittsburgh under Shero. He's got pedigree.
This one is making the rounds. Credibility from being a union rep? I hope not. I mean if he's to be judged from his on air opinions, I'd be afraid of the future with him at the rudder.
Oh the romanticism. Not sure what qualifies him to be a GM, but it'd be fun to hear a trade going down between Roy and Burke wouldn't it? He's a proven winner, for sure. But would he cede enough responsibility to the right people as a GM must?
We talk about people. But this opportunity really allows for the team to seek out candidates (known or unknown to them) who fill the characteristics they now recognize have been missing for years:
Expertise in pro scouting
Come on, it's about time someone that knows NHL talent when he sees it has some clout.
Expertise in development
Someone that can hire the right people and oversee a more efficient farm system. Maybe one that doesn't sap the life out of goalscorers before they lace up in Montreal?
Willingness to work
The Habs have suffered greatly because of the throw-away player attitude they have taken. The next GM will be a star if he can take the Mike Ribeiros he picks and outlasts the immature months.
This should be some fun guys. Go Oilers Go.