After the Montreal Canadiens made their improbable run to the 2021 Stanley Cup final just a few short months ago, the team has had a disastrous start to the 2021-22 regular season. Things came to a head this week with the dismissal of GM Marc Bergevin along with several key members of the club’s senior staff, and the announcement of Melrose, Mass. native Jeff Gorton as Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations.
At 6-17-2-4, the Habs are just above the moribund Ottawa Senators in the basement of the NHL’s Atlantic Division. This is a significant move to not only shake things up in a stagnant organization, but to infuse new blood in the form of a proven hockey executive, who has improved every situation in front offices of the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers.
Now, Gorton will have an opportunity to steer the helm of the NHL’s most successful franchise with 24 Stanley Cup championships, but none since 1993. Although 2021 was a Cinderella run for Bergevin’s Canadiens, the relationship between the former NHL defenseman and ownership had begun to show outside signs of fraying. An aging core, questionable trades and drafting have all conspired to put Montreal into a situation where the longer-term outlook did not reflect the positives and good will from making it to the final round of the playoffs.
Gorton isn’t a miracle worker, but his hiring shows that the Molson family is serious about getting the Canadiens back on the path of contention and long-term viability.