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Over the last few years, I’ve had a relatively easy job during these dog days of summer in terms of picking away at the antiquated management practices of the Montreal Canadiens.

There was a lot of low-hanging fruit to glean from during Marc Bergevin’s tenure. Right now, though, thanks to the transformative changes by the tandem of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, I now need a ladder to gather what slim pickings remain.

Montreal is finally a hockey organization that is run on modern business-like practices and principles. Hughes and Gorton have returned this franchise back to the Sam Pollock way. In a sense, I feel as if they’ve taken this franchise back into the future.

Just consider what has been accomplished to date.

The Canadiens needed a “real” President of hockey operations. Geoff Molson was not going to give up his hefty paycheque, so he did a perfectly good workaround by hiring the highly experienced and respected Gorton who would assume this role as a VP. Problem solved.

The Habs next needed a quality General Manager but given that he had to be bilingual, they could only cast their executive search net into a tiny pond of candidates. The best option was to hire someone who was green but had great promise. Someone with a variety of already strong and unique skills but one in need of a first-rate consigliere to guide him through the choppy waters of this profession.

Hughes fits this bill to a T. Hab fans are now free from worrying about watching yet another green GM who will make all his mistakes with this franchise by learning this craft on the fly.

The Canadiens desperately needed to improve their communications with this franchise’s fans and media. Rather than say the word “check,” let me just say, Chantal Machabee. Enough said.

I realize that we’re in a honeymoon stage with this new management team but their actions to date have really added to their political capital. Right now, the Canadiens’ fan and media base are exhibiting incredible, never seen before patience.

Could you imagine what the reaction would have been by this team’s scribes and supporters if Marc Bergevin was still GM and he chose to pass on Shane Wright and selected Juraj Slafkovsky as his first overall pick?

The haters would have set the Bell Centre ablaze. It would have been the last straw and Bergevin would have flown to a non-extradition treaty country to live out the remainder of his days.

But right now, the tandem of HuGo can do no harm. We trust that they know what they’re doing.

Likewise, the fans and media understand that they are in a transformational stage where this team has and will continue to make some tough decisions. They fully understand and buy into the reality that the Canadiens will perform poorly (in the points department) in order to get out of its multiple-decade state of mediocrity.

The players, fans, and media see hope two-to-three years down the line and will likely tolerate what lays ahead.

Hughes and Gorton have sped up the rebuild by overwhelmingly trading for more ripened 21-22 prospects which should help the Habs avoid an eight-year Buffalo/Edmonton style plan. Very smart.

Those of us who follow the Canadiens get and appreciate management’s open messaging and can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

We know that the nearly 50-year era of dump and chase/bump and grind hockey has finally ended and a new amalgam of the “flying Frenchmen” is being thoughtfully and meticulously constructed.

Gorton and Hughes are building a fast, big, skilled – and above all, intelligent, hockey club that can adjust from regular season to playoff hockey at the drop of a hat.

The Canadiens’ players will no longer be required to simply hit for hitting’s sake and thus, wear themselves down and in the process, make themselves more vulnerable to injuries.

With the roster that Hughes and Gorton are assembling, teams will now let up when coming to the Bell Centre – just as they do when playing against Colorado and Tampa. And, as such, reduce the number of man hours lost to fatigue-oriented injuries.

We can also see that the Canadiens have entered the 21st century by creating a first-rate analytics department and management will not be intimidated by it.

The club has also made major upgrades in its scouting department (though I still feel that Trevor Timmins was not the problem with this organization).

The Canadiens have finally taken the matter of development seriously by hiring top-end skills coaches, load management, and psychological experts. Check. Check and Check!

The Habs finally actually get the concept of onboarding to ease-in traded players and prospects with first-class concierge services. The “sink or swim” mentality by management is finally over. Welcome to 2022!

All these things tell me that the Gorton and Hughes tandem is off to a VERY, VERY GOOD start in rejuvenating this once Ma and Pa-run franchise.

As I said earlier, most of the low-hanging fruit has been picked. But a few more items remain on the to-do checklist.

First, the Habs MUST do everything that they can to prevent coach Martin St. Louis from succeeding when it comes to gathering points in the standings.

This franchise HAS to finish 2023 in the bottom five. This is absolutely essential.

One more lousy year while the political capital for management remains high, will solidify the odds of this franchise having a quality decade of hockey ahead of it.

Second, the Canadiens need to hire three or four more experienced consultants in upper management for Gorton and Hughes to bounce ideas off of.

These individuals cannot be from their circle of friends. This is what led to many of the problems with the previous regime. They must diversify viewpoints and prevent any hive or foxhole-like thinking. This is the brilliant LA Dodgers approach to management and it needs to be culturally embraced by the Canadiens.

Third, the Habs need to set up a training program for future coaches and general managers through their AHL and ECHL farm teams. Montreal’s competitive viability requires that it generate a consistent stream of bilingual coaches and general managers ready to take on these roles. It must end the practice of hiring personnel who are green in these trades.

This program should reach out to some of Quebec’s premier universities to offer special coaching and management training to three or four of the best of the best candidates that the province of Quebec has to offer. It could be paid through a tax write-off/government subsidized foundation of sorts.

The Canadiens need to become a “factory” of sorts that gives such individuals their first start and then allows them to move on to other NHL franchises where they gain enough experience to perhaps work for the Habs one day.

The experiential ‘pond’ of job candidates needs to become a ‘man-made lake.’

Fourth, the Canadiens have to do a better job of protecting their players from injuries. Playing a less robust but more intelligent style is key, but they also need to work with physiologists, video consultants, and load management specialists to minimize the number of career debilitating injuries that so many Habs roster players and prospects have suffered.

And, finally, the Canadiens need to do a better job of protecting their prospects from excessive media and fan attention. Montreal is a party city and it can get very rich, young men into all kinds of trouble.

It was a breath of fresh air when Gorton and Hughes reached out to both Carey Price and Vincent Lecavalier in this regard but ongoing monitoring and mentoring has to be a major priority for the Canadiens.

Few 18-year-olds have the coping skills to endure the parching challenges of Montreal’s intense fan, news, and social media spotlight. There’s a wise Arab saying, “Too much sun creates a desert.” This organization must find ways to mitigate the intensity of this light.

If you’ve read any of my articles, you know how obsessed I am with “the little things”. Success in sports, and life in general, is the result of having edges over your opponents. The more that you have, the greater you become.

The tandem of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes has done some major catching up on the administrative end. They have leapfrogged this franchise inside the top five in this regard.

To move further up, more administrative work still needs to be done.

Overall though, it is so refreshing to see that the Montreal Canadiens are finally getting their administrative act together.

They’ve given people like me a whole lot less to write about. And that’s a good thing indeed!