GM Announcement Coming Soon, But Narrative Won’t Die

Montreal is a special hockey market, there’s no doubt about it. And when Chantal Machabée accepted the job of VP of Communications, she knew it too well. Still, after multiple discussions with the Montreal Canadiens’ senior management, she accepted the role she had been offered and not many people think that she cannot do the job well. She will be of great help for Geoff Molson, Jeff Gorton, the soon to be announced new GM and the head coach, whether they retain Dominique Ducharme or not.

GM to be announced soon!

Speaking of the GM search, the process is showing, once again, how “special” the Montreal market truly is. While most good reporters stick to the facts, there are some a little less reputable who want to create controversy. In spite of the fact that 17 other NHL teams have a different person for Hockey Operations and General Manager, some feel the need to feed the crowds the belief that the next GM will be nothing more than a puppet, a French figure, for Gorton who will actually have the role of GM.

“We will be able to announce our future GM very soon” ~ France Margaret Bélanger on 91.9 Sports (Jan.14/21)

And it doesn’t matter that what Gorton or Molson say about it. Their mind is made up that the new GM will, in fact, be an assistant-GM. In his first press conference, Gorton clearly stated that the new GM would be the one in contact with other GMs around the league but that fact goes over too many people’s head as a lie, a cover-up. Why is that, you ask? Because it fits a narrative.

Narrative of the puppet

That narrative goes like this… They believe that since the Canadiens, in their current market, cannot hire an anglophone as General Manager, Geoff Molson couldn’t give Gorton both the VP of Hockey Ops and GM titles, as Marc Bergevin had. They don’t believe Molson when he said that in retrospect, he realized that it’s a two-men job in Montreal. Instead, they chose to believe that it’s a cover-up, that both Molson and Gorton are liars and that they’re not searching for a GM, but for a couple of assistant-GMs. That’s the narrative they want people to believe and many truly believe that deep inside… in spite of the facts, or what the organisation is saying.

Here’s the deal. Yes, Geoff Gorton will have the last say when it comes to Hockey Operations. The fact that they’re looking at a very green GM – green meaning inexperienced – will, indeed, ask more of Gorton while he trains his new protégé. The reality, from what the organisation says, is that Gorton’s role when it comes to the GM duties, will diminish with time as the new GM gets more experience. Gorton will always supervise because he’s the boss, the VP. That’s how it is in any Corporation and it’s perfectly normal. But the new guy will have more and more freedom as he gains experience.

The disconnect between the truth and the narrative is where or when this job splitting will diminish, or where the line will be drawn between Gorton’s role and the new GM’s role. And that cannot be determine by any of us outside the organisation for the time being. What we do know is that there is a person as VP of Hockey Ops and there will be a General Manager, and that Gorton stated that the GM will have a GM role. The rest is pure fabrication, imagination and wishful thinking to fit a narrative. Some of it is justification (in some people’s mind) as to why Patrick Roy wasn’t selected.

More reading…

Decisions To Come On Defense by Bob Trask

Habs Looking More Like Road Kills Than Road Warriors

Tough Decisions Ahead For The Habs

Decisions To Come On Defense

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are proud to introduce our latest addition, Bob Trask, as a contributor on Cheering The Logo. Bob is a fellow BC guy and long time Habs’ fan who, you will see, has a very solid head on his shoulders and a great way to express ideas. Please welcome him to the team and give him a follow on Twitter: @rwtrask. If you would like to join our team, you will find the information here.

By Bob Trask – Since the beginning of the season the Montreal Canadiens’ defense has been a patchwork affair and if the Canadiens are going to have any kind of success going forward that will need to be addressed.

Changes coming

A trade involving pending UFA Ben Chiarot at or before the deadline is almost a foregone conclusion. It also seems likely that Alexander Romanov and Joel Edmundson will be two of the three LD next season while David Savard and Jeff Petry, barring an unexpected trade, will be two of the three RD next season. That leaves spots for a #5, #6 and #7 defenseman and there is no shortage of candidates.

Brett Kulak is unlikely to return. He barely earns minutes now and will probably depart as a free agent this summer or at the trade deadline if the Habs can get anything in return.

Kaiden Guhle may have jumped to the head of the pack in the competition for LD and because he would likely start with 3rd pairing minutes, it’s not entirely out of the question that he makes the jump.

That would leave the Habs with Edmundson, Romanov and Guhle as the three starters on LD. Considering the top 3 LD on the team this year have been Chiarot, Romanov and Kulak, this new group would be a small step forward.

On the right side

Petry’s sub-par play this year combined with his long-term $6.25 million salary probably means his trade value is limited and ensures his return to Montreal. The fact that he is a RD might make him attractive to a playoff contender looking for help but the Habs also need RD. Ideally he plays no higher than 2nd pairing with little PP or PK time. A combination of Petry and Romanov might work.

Jeff Petry

If Savard is to have a role on this team going forward, it should probably be as a 3rd pairing d-man who plays 15 minutes a game with some penalty killing time. A great skating rookie like Guhle combined with the veteran, but slower Savard might also work.

That leaves a gaping hole on RD where a 1st pairing is needed and there are few legitimate candidates. Chris Wideman certainly isn’t a top pairing defenseman and remains a long shot to be re-signed for next year. Josh Brook suffered a knee injury and hasn’t played a game in about a year. Neither of these two represent an imminent solution .

Every other candidate is a left-hand shot who would have to play his off-side.

Potential solutions

Jordan Harris hasn’t signed yet and even if he does it is a long shot to go from NCAA hockey to a 1st pairing in the NHL. Kale Clague, Sami Niku and Mattias Norlinder may also be in the running to earn a spot on the team but the Habs would be better served by allowing them to develop on the 3rd pairing or as a 7th or 8th d-man. Unfortunately that seems to be the role best suited to most of those vying for a spot on the team.

Those RD who are pending UFAs include names like Kris Letang, PK Subban,  John Klingberg and Rasmus Ristolainen. Letang and Klingberg are unlikely to choose Montreal and will either re-sign or go with a Cup contender while Subban and Ristolainen both come with their own histories. A UFA solution seems like a longshot at best.

The position of 7th and 8th on the depth chart could be filled from the list of Clague, Niku, Norlinder, Schueneman or Tobie Paquette-Bisson.

Perhaps the best that Habs fans can expect is to see Petry and Savard bumped up a notch higher than most would prefer. The result might look something like:

Edmundson – Petry
Romanov – Savard
Guhle/Harris – Brook/Harris
Clague – Schueneman

Of course all of that can change should Jeff Gorton and his new management team decide to pull the trigger on a big trade that lands the team a legitimate RD.

Stay tuned!

More reading…

GM Announcement Coming Soon, But Narrative Won’t Die

Habs Looking More Like Road Kills Than Road Warriors

Tough Decisions Ahead For The Habs

Lighter Side: List of Bogus Habs Job Titles