By Bob Trask – From the first day he was hired, Kent Hughes has been building out the Montreal Canadiens organization on several fronts. Every department of the team has been impacted as the Habs move from what many perceived to be an “Old Boys Club” to a modern and diverse operation. The latest hire is Marie-Philip Poulin who brings her skill and experience to the player development department. But a lot more has been happening.
An article in The Athletic alluded to the fact that Hughes was working non-stop to modernize the organization and fill gaps that he perceived to exist. He has made changes to the on-ice personnel via deadline trades and the coaching staff with an off-the-board hiring of Martin St-Louis. Those are the most publicly noticeable changes but the team of Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes have made many more.
Here’s an incomplete list:
- Marie-Philip Poulin – Player Development Consultant
- Nick Bobrov – Co-director of Amateur Scouting
- Vincent Lecavalier – Special Advisor to Hockey Operations
- Adam Nicholas – Director of Hockey Development
- Christopher Boucher – Director, Hockey Analytics
- Chantal Machabee – Vice President, Hockey Communications
There have also been internal changes and promotions. John Sedgwick, for example, was named as the Assistant General Manager after serving the team in a variety of roles over the years. He brings his skills as a salary cap specialist to the position.
All of this has been done in a few short months while continuing to evaluate talent at the pro level, in the various amateur leagues, at the World U18s and at the World Championships.
According to the same article in The Athletic, Hughes also wants to broaden the Canadiens medical staff and, for example, include a mental health professional to the team. It’s also not a stretch to believe that Hughes could be considering building out or revamping the scouting operations at all levels including pro, North American amateur and European leagues.
We can only speculate on what additional moves could be made. Will Hughes name a General Manager for the Laval Rocket or will those duties be shared by the existing executive.
While this has been happening (and with more changes and additions likely on the to do list) Hughes has had to get a handle on his salary cap situation, the upcoming NHL Draft and the upcoming free-agency period. He is likely taking and making a significant number of calls to rival GMs to discuss trade possibilities. And he has to be contemplating his options regarding the status of Carey Price – which could result in two very different paths for the team going forward.
Hughes is literally drinking from a fire hose as he deals with all of these situations while learning the nuances of being GM in the NHL. The honesty and transparency in which he deals with the fans and media is refreshing. We can only assume that he deals with his players in the same way.
Credit has to be given to Geoff Molson as well. He has delegated responsibility without interfering (at least publicly) and approached the task in front of him with an open mind and an open wallet.