New VP of Hockey Operations Jeff Gorton met with the Montreal media for the first time on Friday to discuss his hiring and what’s next for the team. Here are some of the notable items from his press conference.
More Use of Analytics
It’s well-known that the previous management group wasn’t a big believer in analytics – they were used a bit but not much. Gorton indicated that he wants to build out a whole analytics department which would be a fundamental departure from their current structure in that regard. He mentioned this at the same time as referencing player development and the two will likely go hand in hand.
While Geoff Molson made it clear he wants a GM in place as soon as possible, don’t expect someone to be hired before Christmas. Gorton hasn’t put his list of candidates together yet and didn’t rule out Patrick Roy when asked if the former goalie would be considered. He also left open the possibility of an off the board hire of someone that may not be known as much but has a complementary skillset.
Gorton didn’t want to publicly commit to what direction he wants to take the team right now and did mention that he’ll need time to evaluate what he does and doesn’t have in the organization now. If the team does decide to go the rebuilding route, however, he pledged to be transparent about the process. His former team, the Rangers, notably released a letter discussing that they would be rebuilding and why. He didn’t commit to doing the exact same thing but there won’t be any ambiguity if they go in that direction.
There is no timeline for when a new head scout will be hired to take Trevor Timmins’ role in the organization. Currently, Martin Lapointe holds the highest title among Montreal’s amateur scouts but as that’s only one of his titles, they don’t have someone dedicated to that role at the moment. My own two cents – the longer they wait, the harder it will be to get one as teams start to work on their draft list as the season progresses.
Gorton made it clear that Dominique Ducharme would be the head coach for the remainder of the season, thereby eliminating one possible distraction if Montreal’s struggles continue. He’s in the first season of a three-year deal and will now have the next five months to show Gorton and whoever takes over as GM that he’s worthy of holding the job beyond that.
In other news Friday…
Jeff Petry will not make the trip to Nashville for Saturday’s game against the Predators due to an upper-body injury. Corey Schueneman has been recalled from Laval; the Rocket are now down to a minimum-sized roster with just 12 healthy forwards, six defencemen, and two goalies.
Mike Hoffman took a regular turn at practice with Christian Dvorak and Cole Caufield and could be ready to return. He’ll likely take the place of Josh Anderson on the roster as he’s expected to miss two-to-four weeks which will land him on injured reserve.
Both Brendan Gallagher and Sami Niku were absent from practice which suggests that neither of them got the two straight negative tests they needed to return. Assuming that’s the case, they’ll now miss at least 10 days (including yesterday).