It’s now official. The Canadiens will be looking for a new general manager as Marc Bergevin has been relieved of his duties as has long-time executive Trevor Timmins. Geoff Molson released the following statement:
“On behalf of myself and the organization, I wish to thank Marc Bergevin, Trevor Timmins, and Paul Wilson for their passion and engagement towards our Club over the last years. Their relentless work allowed our fans to experience many memorable moments, including last summer’s playoff run that culminated with the Stanley Cup Final. We wish them all the success they deserve in the pursuit of their careers. I think, however, that the time has come for a leadership change within our hockey operations department that will bring a new vision and should allow our fans and partners to continue cheering for a championship team.”
Bergevin came to Montreal in 2012, taking over from Pierre Gauthier as GM. Over that stretch, the Habs had some years where they were reasonable contenders, others where they were mediocre, and others where they were out of contention fairly quickly; it’s the latter category this season which certainly didn’t help his cause to stick around. Bergevin was in the final year of his contract and while it sounded like
Molson was hoping to sign him to an extension over the summer, they weren’t able to agree to terms.
Over his time with the Habs, Bergevin wasn’t afraid of making big trades, headlined by the Shea Weber-P.K. Subban swap. He also swung big for rentals early on in Jeff Petry and Thomas Vanek while making some decent seller moves when called upon as well, highlighted by a swap that netted Phillip Danault and the draft pick that yielded Alexander Romanov for a pair of rental wingers in Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann. Despite what will likely be looked at over time as a good trade record as a whole, they never were able to set themselves as a consistent contender.
Bergevin also released a statement which can be read here.
Part of that also falls on Timmins, who departs after spending nearly two decades with the team. While the Canadiens have had success in terms of getting players to the NHL, not many have been able to break through into impact pieces. They picked third overall twice with him in charge of the draft with the end results being Alex Galchenyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi; neither were truly able to become the impact centre they were selected to be.
Interestingly enough, his departure comes at a time where the prospect cupboard has been restocked relatively well in recent years with a fairly strong pipeline on defence, in particular. A new GM, one that will be bilingual according to Montreal’s press release, will now be tasked with getting the most out of that group along with finding a new person to run the draft. Shane Churla, who was Timmins’ top scout for a little while, was hired away by Florida a year ago.
To assist in the search for those new front office personnel and in rebuilding things is Jeff Gorton who has officially joined the Canadiens as Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations. He was the GM for the Rangers from 2015-2021 and also spent time in various front office roles with the Rangers and Bruins so he is certainly overqualified for the VP role, one that allows Molson to retain his presidency title. He will be a capable experienced person to assist in the GM search and while it wasn’t announced by the team, he’d likely be the acting GM if something had to be done between now and the time a new GM is hired.
That search is now underway with a stated goal of hiring someone as soon as possible which is different from the searches happening in Chicago and Anaheim, both of which are expected to run into the offseason when more executives will be made available. That will limit Montreal’s options to those not currently employed around the NHL or those whose teams are willing to let an executive go midseason.