Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes are doing things differently than their predecessor. For many people, it’s refreshing. Fans and media are still in the honeymoon stage and everything new management says and does is different and rosy. If you’ve been following the Canadiens long enough, you know that this stage is temporary and critics will be coming out in force soon enough.
Jeff Gorton surprised more than a few people when he commented about previous management. He called their way of doing things “old school” and wanted to “modernize” the organisation. While it skid through the media like a hot knife through butter, those comments didn’t sit well with many. One of them is the team’s former goaltending coach, Stephane Waite.
Fired by Bergevin in mid-game last season, Waite has been very critical of his former GM and towards the organisation since then. Yet, he came to Bergevin’s defense about Gorton’s comments.
“Old school, it makes me laugh. In the first few years, he (Bergevin) hired so many new people, he almost doubled the number of staff in Hockey Operations. That’s a lot of people. For us, we said that prior to that, it was ‘old school’. If there’s one team that was old school, it was the Boston Bruins under Jeff Gorton.”
Now think about this. As a guy who was fired during a game by Bergevin, who has been very critical of his former GM ever since that night. He’s been nipping at the Habs and Bergevin about at every occasion, about everything and anything. For him, out of all people, to come out and defend Bergevin, he must feel that Gorton’s comments are over the top and far from true.
But wait… maybe Gorton was referring to his predecessor’s mentality of icing a big and tough roster? However, that would be ignoring the fact that the four Clydesdales – Weber, Chiarot, Edmundson and Petry – along with big bodies Perry, Anderson and Armia, were the main reasons (with Price) why the Habs got passed the Toronto Maple Leafs and reached the Stanley Cup finals just a few months ago. He can’t be referring to that, right?
Perhaps Gorton means the analytics department? Although some teams have a bigger focus on it, most don’t and few teams spend a lot of time and money in that department. Considering how little weight analytics play, overall, amongst NHL clubs, the old school comment seems a little over the top, doesn’t it?
Way to treat players
Another odd comment from Gorton is the one he made about treating players like family and first class. Everything that we’ve heard from players, even many of those departed, is that Bergevin and the organisation treated them and their family like no other.
How many times have we heard and seen Bergevin praising his players? In five decades of hockey experience, I have never seen a GM more emotional on delicate topics surrounding his players. Without even researching, I recall his emotional press conferences about Drouin, Gallagher and Price.
Listen to players like Price, Drouin, Weber, Gallagher, Petry, Byron, Suzuki, Romanov amongst others… They’ve all said, at one point or another, how well they were treated in Montreal. That was while under Bergevin. Nate Thompson, Tomas Plekanec, Ilya Kovalchuk, Corey Perry… they have all done the same. If Bergevin had one quality, it’s the way he treated his players. He treated them like family.
So where does that come from I wonder? Either it’s completely unfounded and uncalled for, or it’s coming from a few disgruntled players, guys who either didn’t get the ice time or the contract that they wanted. Let’s be honest here… unhappy players (or former players) is something every single organisation has.
To me, this whole situation raises a bit of a red flag or at least, some questions. What’s the purpose of such comments? Could it be to feed the frenzy of “change and transparency”, even how little foundation those comments have? It makes you wonder.