Nick Bobrov’s Track Record

The Montreal Canadiens have announced that they have hired a couple of new men to help with their hockey operations. Since the firing of Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins at the end of November, Martin Lapointe has been filling the role of Director of Amateur Scouting. We didn’t know if it was by interim or permanent but it seems like we got our answer today with the team’s announcement.

The team also announced that while Lapointe will remain in his functions of Director of Player Personnel, but added the title of Co-Director of Amateur Scouting to his functions. He will likely focus solely on North America in his role. The team has hired former Boston Bruins and New York Rangers’ Director of European Scouting Nick Bobrov as Co-Director of Amateur Scouting. He will likely oversea the European side of the department.

For one, Vincent Lecavalier didn’t use the Canadiens to negotiate a better contract in Tampa Bay this time around, as he joins the organisation as a Special Consultant to Hockey Operations. This likely means that he will be able to continue to be paid tax-free money, suntanning in Tampa.

Bobrov’s track record

Some people are thrilled of the addition of Bobrov. Others, not so much. This prompted me to do a little bit of research, as I often like to do, in order to form a more educated opinion on the Canadiens’ management new addition. For “misses“, to be fair, I have focussed solely on the top three rounds of the Draft as anything beyond is a flip of the coin toss no matter the origin of the picks. The “hits” are from any round.

Boston Bruins (2001-2006)

PICKROUND/OVERALLYEARNHL GP
HITSDavid Krejci2nd Rd (63)2004962
Vladimir Sobotka4th Rd (106)2005548
MISSESVladislav Yevseyev2nd Rd (56)20020
Hannu Toivonen1st Rd (29)200261
Mikko Lehtonen3rd Rd (83)20052
Petr Kalus2nd Rd (39)200511
Yuri Alexandrov2nd (37)20060

New York Rangers (2015-2021)

This is a lot more recent and it’s definitely more difficult to assess hits and misses. So take those with a grain of salt, of course, as it can still change. For that reason, I’ve also added a section for “to be determined (TBD)“.

PICKROUND/OVERALLYEARNHL GP
HITSFilip Chytil1st Rd (21)2017226
Kaapo Kakko1st Rd (2)2019151
MISSESRobin Kovacs3rd Rd (62)20150
Aleksi Saarela3rd Rd (89)20159
Lias Andersson1st Rd (7)2017102
TBDVitali Kravtsov1st Rd (9)201820
Nils Lundkvist1st Rd (28)201825
Olof Lindbom2nd Rd (39)20180
Jakob Ragnarsson3rd Rd (70)20180
Karl Henriksson2nd Rd (58)20190
Oliver Tarnstrom3rd Rd (92)20200

Conclusion

Obviously, you can draw your own conclusions with the list provided above. But from what I can see, Bobrov’s track record has nothing to write a book about. So far, he has uncovered one very good player in David Krejci, which the Bruins got in the second round. It’s pretty hard to give credit to anyone picking second overall as the Rangers did with Kakko but Chytil seems to be a pretty good player.

There are many others picked from 2018 to 2021 (six to be exact) who remain to be seen. Even if half of them turn into good players, I’m not so sure that it justifies the hiring of Bobrov. But hey, what do I know? I can only go with numbers as I’m not in the circle of professional hockey experts. Here’s hoping that the new management works out for the best for the Canadiens. So far, while early, there are more questions than answers.

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Top GM Candidates: Only Bilingual Must Apply

One of the biggest news from Canadiens’ President Geoff Molson’s press conference to explain his recent clean-up on the 7th floor at the Bell Centre might have been that two heads are better than one. Seeing how over-stretch Marc Bergevin was doing double-duties, he acknowledged and recognized that perhaps, he had too much on his place in a market like Montreal. Bergevin was the Vice-President of Hockey Operations as well as the team’s General Manager. From now on, two separate men will do those jobs, each one being able to better focus on their workloads.

Jeff Gorton was gathering his personal effects and should arrive in Montreal in the very near future. He will be the VP of Hockey Operations. He and Molson will immediately start looking for a new GM. According to the team President, this individual must be able to speak English and French. He explained that it’s not as important for Gorton as the GM is the one who will be speaking to fans and media and in his market, the organisation feels it’s important to do so.

Disgruntled people

Some fans and media members had grown unhappy and, quite frankly, rather aggressive towards Marc Bergevin. When rumours came rampant that he would be replaced, they inundated social medias, crying to whomever would want to listen, that the Habs should select the “best available” GM, regardless of languages. Yes, that debate again.

Molson managed to tip-toe his way around the issue by trying to please everyone. He hired that best man available when he signed Gorton, a unilingual anglophone, to a multi-year deal. He then tried to explain once again why he feels it’s important, in Montreal, to have a bilingual GM. Smart.

Yet, Serge Savard (amongst others) came out and chastised Molson for his decision. In spite of Molson’s efforts, those people are not happy that Gorton can’t speak French. On the other side, you have this other group. Guess what? They’re not happy either. They’re still furious that the Canadiens will “limit themselves” by putting the bilingual requirement for their GM, and they’ve ensured to let everyone know about it.

Most of those people were unhappy with the Habs, with Bergevin in particular. Now, they’re still unhappy for their own reasons. I guess it goes to show two things: 1- there’s no compromising with them, and 2- they’ll always find something to complain about, for not being happy. I personally find that Molson did the right thing by going with Gorton and a bilingual GM.

Top candidates

So regardless of everyone’s feelings, Geoff Molson has a business to run and the Montreal Canadiens have a General Manager to hire. Trade deadline is approaching, the team is going nowhere on the ice and decisions will need to be made. Further, Gorton will have to focus on revamping the scouting and player-development, build that medical performance team and, as stated by his boss, add diversity to the Habs front office.

Simply by reading the media and on social media, here is what appears to be the list of top candidates for the position.

Martin Madden Jr.: Solid choice, he is the second most experienced choice on the list when it comes to working as an executive in the NHL, behind Dale Tallon. He is in his 14th season with the Anaheim Ducks, his second as Assistant General Manager. He spent the previous 12 seasons with the club as Director of Amateur Scouting. Native of Quebec City and still residing there, Madden oversees all of the club’s scouting efforts (professional and amateur) and assumes an expanded role in a majority of hockey operations directives and initiatives.

Dale Tallon: We’re going under the impression that he is bilingual as he was born in Noranda, Qc. Tallon he has tons of NHL experience. He built that dynasty team in Chicago even though Stan Bowman was the GM when they won those Cups. He then helped put the Panthers on the map and left the team in August of 2020. He’s a very respected hockey man with tons of knowledge and contacts.

Mathieu Darche: The French media’s choice it seems, as many are pushing for him on social media. But Darche has only been working for an NHL team since May of 2019 as the Lightning’s Director of Hockey Operations. While he does have a good head on his shoulders, one has to wonder if having someone that “green” is the right thing to do in a market like Montreal, even with Gorton to help.

Martin Lapointe: His name hasn’t popped up as much as the others, or so it seems. Lapointe was hired as a pro scout by the Chicago Blackhawks organization in December 2009. He joined the Canadiens in June of 2012 and he has occupied the position of Director of Player Development. Since 2017, he’s been the team’s Director of Player Personnel.

Daniel Brière: Truthfully, I personally don’t understand why people think of him as a candidate. Throughout his entire playing career, he wanted nothing to do with coming to play in Montreal. Only at the end of his career, when his options were limited, did he sign with the Canadiens and we know how it ended. How could he look someone in the eye and sell them with a straight face, on the benefits of playing in Montreal? Further, his experience is solely at the ECHL level.

Patrick Roy: Ah, the people’s choice… God knows he’s been trying hard to return to the NHL since he burnt Joe Sakic and the Colorado Avalanche! He even orchestrated a “peace offer” with Mario Tremblay by making a Uber commercial. But there are more reasons NOT to even consider him than there are to do so. How can people be so upset about the selection of Logan Mailloux and what this guy in a position of power is beyond reason.

Vincent Damphousse: Another television personality who has never set foot as a NHL executive but fans see and hear him. Those who like what he has to see are pushing for him but let’s be honest here… It is very doubtful that he’ll even be considered. EDIT: Damphousse came out to say he’s not interested. Good for him, I doubt he’d be considered.

Roberto Luongo: This is an interesting choice but much like Darche, Roberto’s experience as a NHL executive is limited to a couple of years. Also to take into considerations is the fact that Florida is home to him. Even as a player, he missed it when playing in Vancouver and wanted to return to the Panthers. Between you and I, I’m not so sure he wants to leave, even for Montreal. There’s something to be said about the tax breaks and sitting in shorts by the pool at the end of the day.

Luc Robitaille: Those who are brining the name of Robitaille as a candidate are, in my humble opinion, dreaming big time. Luc is the President of the Los Angeles Kings, where he has had an outstanding career both as a player, and as an executive. Why would he take the GM position in Montreal exactly? See the reasons for Luongo…

Martin Brodeur: After a short stint with the St. Louis Blues for his post-hockey playing career, Brodeur is finally home, with the New Jersey Devils, where he occupies the position of Executive Vice President,
Advisor. Much like Luongo and Robitaille, there are not many reasons for him to take a step down to fill a stressful position in Montreal.

So there you have it folks. From the names circulating in the media, those are your candidates at the time of writing these lines. In my humble opinion, the short list should be, in no particular order:

  • Martin Madden Jr.
  • Dale Tallon
  • Mathieu Darche
  • Martin Lapointe

Let’s enjoy the ride and see what Jeff Gorton and Geoff Molson have in mind. There should be a lot of action and things to follow and talk about all season around the Canadiens and that, even if the team isn’t doing well.

In case you missed it, I made an appearance with my co-hosts Annik Lemire and Andrew Thompson on Habs Tonight, and we talked about Geoff Molson’s press conference and what it means for the Canadiens. Enjoy.

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Patrick Roy As New GM? Not So Fast…