The Montreal Canadiens' encore to their Stanley Cup Final appearance last season has been an abject disaster, as they have a 6-15-2 record. With general manager Marc Bergevin in the last year of his contract having not signed an extension, it felt like a regime change was coming.
Did it ever arrive on Sunday.
Owner Geoff Molson announced that Bergevin, assistant general manager Trevor Timmins and senior VP of communications Paul Wilson were all "relieved of their respective functions" with the franchise. That's after assistant GM Scott Mellanby resigned after he didn't get either Bergevin's job or a higher office. Former New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton has been hired as executive vice president of hockey operations and tasked with finding the next (bilingual) general manager of the Habs.
Here's a look at the decision and the fallout for the Original Six franchise, including who could take over for Bergevin.
Why did the Canadiens hire Jeff Gorton?
Gorton is viewed by many as the best available option for teams seeking a new general manager.
He learned under Harry Sinden in Boston and Glen Sather with the New York Rangers. After working as assistant general manager for several seasons with the Bruins, he was the interim general manager from March to July in 2006. During that stretch, the team drafted Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand; traded for Tuukka Rask; and signed Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard as free agents.
He became general manager of the Rangers in July 2015 and was credited for their quick rebuild during his tenure, which ended in May 2021. He traded away veteran players like Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello for future assets. He also experienced some unparalleled luck in securing forwards Alexis Lafreniere (No. 1, 2020) and Kaapo Kakko (No. 2, 2019) in the draft lottery, star winger Artemi Panarin as a free agent and Norris Trophy winner Adam Fox via trade, as the Rangers were his preferred destination.