The winds of change have started to blow around the Montreal Canadiens.
Multiple reports during the Habs game against the Penguins confirmed that president and owner Geoff Molson has begun to do his due diligence on what the future of his hockey operations department could look like.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman first reported that the Habs had been granted permission to speak with former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton. Gorton was the general manager of the Blueshirts for six seasons before he was surprisingly fired last season by notoriously volatile owner James Dolan.
During his tenure with the Rangers, Gorton ushered in a rebuild that started with transparency. New York famously released a statement to their fans explaining what the plan would be for their rebuild. That rebuild yielded one of the strongest prospect pools in the league today.
Gorton’s acquisition at the NHL level wasn’t just limited to acquiring draft picks and prospects. He presided over the acquisition of Mika Zibanejad from the Ottawa Senators. Defencemen Jacob Trouba and Adam Fox along were also acquired via trade. Although both had previously professed their desire to join the Rangers before joining them. Forward Artemi Panarin also chose to join New York in free agency during his tenure.
TSN’s Darren Dreger confirmed that Molson had spoken to Gorton about a significant hockey operations position. Due to the club’s desire to have a French speaking general manager and coach, as TSN’s Chris Johnston reported, it would be simple enough to connect the dots that Gorton is being considered for the position of president of hockey operations.
Bergevin’s lieutenant walks
The Athletic’s Michael Russo reported minutes later that Montreal Canadiens assistant GM Scott Mellanby has resigned. Mellanby was hired by Bergevin back in 2012 as the director of player personnel. He was promoted two years later to the position of assistant general manager.
TSN’s Pierre Lebrun tweeted that Mellanby had been interviewed by owner Geoff Molson about a senior hockey operations department as soon as yesterday. But the Habs told Mellanby today he was out of the running and he subsequently resigned.
Mellanby’s resignation makes it plain that the end is nigh for Bergevin. The current Habs general manager is in the final year of his contract and one of his most trusted advisors has just left the organization. It’s taken 22 games of futile hockey to happen, but it appears as though the wheels of the future are in motion.
The next one?
So with Gorton being targeted as the president or director of hockey operations, now the question turns to who could the GM of the Habs be?
Montreal Hockey Now touched on these options earlier in the season but one name was left off of our radar. Martin Madden Jr. has spent 14 years with the Anaheim Ducks organization. The Quebec City native spent the last 12 years as the Director of Amateur Scouting before being promoted to Assistant General Manager two seasons ago.
Per NHL.com, Madden Jr.’s responsibilities include overseeing both professional and amateur scouting. He also plays a part in the professional direction of the Ducks and compiles the final prospect list for the organization prior to the NHL draft.
Prior to Anaheim he had been a scout in the Rangers and Hurricanes organizations, winning a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006. With a potential top ten pick and Montreal hosting the draft in July, a man with a deep scouting background could be just what the doctor ordered.
The Montreal Canadiens and owner Geoff Molson have taken the first steps towards what their club could look like as soon as next season.