Round Table – Kent Hughes, New Habs’ GM

There you have it folks. The search is over. After firing Marc Bergevin and hiring Jeff Gorton as VP of Hockey Operations at the end of November, they have finally found their new General Manager. Kent Hughes has apparently beat to the wire Mathieu Darche and Daniel Brière as Gorton’s right-hand man.

Since we’ve added some quality Contributors to the site, we’ve decided to present you with our team’s first impressions of this hiring, as a round table. Without further ado, here’s what our writers feel about the news of Hughes being hired as the Canadiens’ GM.

Bob Trask

My gut feeling is that Hughes is an astute hire. As a former player agent, Kent Hughes will have intimate knowledge about the mindset of players when it comes to contract negotiations which should put him in good standing at the bargaining table. That seemed to be a weakness with Bergevin. As a former player in the NCAA and two sons playing in the NCAA, Hughes obviously has lived and breathed hockey from that point of view as well. His experience on multiple fronts in the hockey world should serve him and the Canadiens well. He seems like a great complement to Gorton and can draw on his experience as a GM. I can see them evolving into a very strong management team.

My second impression of Hughes is that he doesn’t crave the spotlight and works diligently in relative obscurity. He is the antithesis of Patrick Roy in that regard. The focus of attention should be on the team and not the GM which is another reason this move makes sense.

Marc-André Breault

I think Hughes is the man. Gorton knew him and wanted him. I’m not one who thinks that Gorton wants to have people around him just for appearances, but rather because he wants to know and understand all of the options. At the same time, he can evaluate if he can put some of them in other positions. Hughes is from here, in Beaconsfield. He speaks French fluently and he will certainly do it.

No matter what some people think about this, he is Gorton’s choice and the team’s VP of Hockey of Operations knows better than us what he wants, what he needs. I have full confidence in him. It’s now up to them to make this team better with what Bergevin has started building since the 2018 reset.

Sylvain Perreault

It seems pretty obvious to me that Jeff Gorton had wanted to work with Kent Hughes for a long time. All that was missing was the right timing and the opportunity. I think these 2 are quite complementary in their skills and qualifications. Hard to find better fit in my opinion. Hugues is extremely respected in the industry and he will not have to put in too much effort to “make his place” in the brotherhood of GMs.

Some will wonder why were there interviews if Gorton already had a favorite? Simply because that’s always how it should be. Jeff Gorton took the time to see, hear and compare the approaches from the different candidates and in this case, probably confirmed his initial choice.

In the end, the CH has just hired a GM who will be able to bring a new perspective, both to the fans and to his staff. But the real work has only just begun. The challenges the Gorton-Hughes tandem is now facing, looking at the team’s performance on the ice could make anyone of us dizzy. Let’s give them some time… Welcome aboard the crazy train!

JD Lagrange

I have to say, Martin Madden Jr was my first candidate but it wasn’t meant to be as the Anaheim Ducks never gave the Habs permission to talk to him. Hughes came second in my books, with Mathieu Darche third. Gorton knows Hughes and they already have a relationship, a mutual understanding of each other. As he didn’t go through the first round of interviews, it is clear that Hughes was Gorton’s man and he had some convincing to do to get him to accept considering the job. When the Canadiens’ VP of Hockey Operations talked about someone complementing him, he mentioned that it could be a players’ agent. He knew who he wanted.

And no folks, because it’s not Patrick Roy doesn’t mean that Hughes is going in there as Gorton’s “puppet”, as some claim. He would have never accepted the job. So let’s give the guy a chance to prove what he can do. The nice thing about him is that he knows the league, the other GMs and certainly knows how to negotiate contracts, one of a GM’s duties.

Language debate

For those who believe politics is more important than qualification, you’ll be happy to learn that in spite of his anglophone name, Hughes is from Montreal and speaks French very well, according to VP of Communications, Chantal Machabée.

Also, some of us are old enough to remember when the Montreal Canadiens hired an anglophone from Montreal, for whom French was his second language, to coach the team. His name: Scotty Bowman. I dare say he wasn’t too bad. Let’s give the runner a chance here. Let’s cut the new management some slack and see what they do with the rope. They could hang themselves with it, but something tells me that they’ll do something good with it.

More reading…

The Road to Respectability and Success by Bob Trask

GM Announcement Coming Soon, But Narrative Won’t Die

Youth Development in Montreal by Marc-André Breault