The guy has just been in place two days and early in his third, he has to give a press conference facing a packed room of journalists. Welcome to Montreal, Jeff Gorton! After watching one Laval Rockets’ game and one Canadiens’ game live, he sat and answered questions for about half hour. For the most part, he couldn’t get into the meat and potatoes, as he will need time to familiarize himself with his new surroundings. He did however provide some very interesting points.
– He says this team has been hit with a string of bad luck and injuries, now COVID, and that atmosphere is down at the Bell Centre, that it can be felt entering the building.
– He adds that is focus is on the players, who battle hard every day to get out of that slump.
– He envisions his team to be fast and skilled and that’s how he wants to build it.
It was interesting to hear what Gorton’s priorities are as he takes over a new team.
– To start, he wants to be around the team to better understand the players and coaching staff.
– He also would like to spend time with the existing support staff, including the scouting staff.
– He wants to create an analytics department, or expand on that, and also expand on the scouting and player development sections of the team.
– Equal to the points mentioned above, he wants to hire a General Manager.
Of course, reporters had several questions about the topic of the next GM. Some journalists went straight to the point in pushing their candidate, others tip toed around the question.
– Asked to give an over/under response, Gorton said not to expect for a GM to be announced before Christmas.
If you think of it, this response was December 3rd, his 3rd day as #Habs’ VP. You cannot list candidates, ask permission to teams, decide on interview questions and criteria, go through all stages of interviews and make a decision in 3 weeks. Not if you do a thorough job.
– He mentioned in many occasions wanting a “complementary” person for GM. Not necessarily one who agrees with his every decision, but a good hockey man with a good head on his shoulders.
– Also, several of his answers talked about the possibility of getting an inexperienced GM, or one with limited experience.
– He, of course, was politically correct in his answers about Patrick Roy. When asked if he had heard Roy’s plea for the position, he said: “I’ve heard of him.” How can you not, right? But like Pierre LeBrun, I came out reassured (to a point), that the former goaltender is not a fit.
– Gorton mentioned that he is already in contact with other GMs but when his own GM is hired, he will be the one talking to other GMs.
– The new V.P. of Hockey Operations was asked directly about the future of head coach Dominique Ducharme and he informed everyone that he didn’t have to fear for his job for the rest of the season.
“There’s definitely contracts that are long-term that we’ll have to look at, discuss & figure out who is going to be here & who is going to be part of that going forward. Who those players are? Like I said, tomorrow will be my 2nd game with the team…” ~ Jeff Gorton
Politics of Language
Gorton opened his press conference with a statement in French which he read. He stated that he will do his best to learn as he goes.
Later, some ignorant reporter (couldn’t get who it was or I’d name him/her) asked him to expand on that, what he meant by “doing his best”. He restated that he will do his best at it but not promising he will become fluent.
“I’ll do my best, that’s my pledge to you”, Gorton explained. “Thirty years ago, I picked up golf and I still stink at it.”
Again drawn on the political side, he said that he understands the significance of having local players.
So there you have it folks. Not much to concrete to chump on, no insight on his future moves and little time frame either. And that’s a good thing. The last thing we want is someone jumping in and making major decisions without fully understanding and knowing the ins and outs around the team. It feels like the Habs have a good man. Let’s give him time to assess what he has and we’ll be able to judge later.