Monday, January 30, 2012

He Said / She Said: Replacing Pierre Gauthier

Pierre Mcguire - Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, one question has oft been asked by both local and national media: Will Pierre Gauthier be remain at the helm for the Montreal Canadiens.

While he may survive past February 27th, it is looking increasingly likely that the Montreal Canadiens will go in a new direction with regards to its management team.

With that in mind, our resident writers Bryan Willey and Rosalyn Roy were asked about who they would like to see replace the embattled GM.

Bryan Willey: I think there is a difference between who I would like to see as GM and who will ultimately be given the role.

In my mind, the top-two candidates have to be Jim Nill and Rick Dudley. They could turn the team around in a short time and, out of the names available, are by far the most qualified. However the chances of either of them ultimately be named GM border on nil - pun intended.

Of those who have a chance, the person I would most like to see is Pierre McGuire. I have always been a fan of his, love his passion and the fact that he has knowledge for hockey at its many various levels.

He has been wrong on a couple of calls, but overall has been right a heck of a lot more.

Ultimately, I believe the GM will be one of Julien Brisebois, Serge Savard or Vincent Damphousse.

Frankly, this scares me.

Rosalyn Roy: Bryan, I am also convinced that who I want and who will be the next Habs GM are likely two different beasts.

I'd agree with you on Jim Nill, though I am not a huge fan of Dudley. Nill has an excellent track record and, of course, speaks French. Dudley doesn't and, while he did do his best with Atlanta and is now with the Leafs organization, he wouldn't be one of my first choices.

In fact, in looking at the Leafs, who are rebuilding nicely, they have a potential candidate we could pillage in Claude Loiselle, who is currently an Assistant General Manager with the club.

Negotiating and cap space management are Loiselle's strong suits, two items that have been sorely lacking in Montreal. The Tomas Kaberle acquisition to supposedly fix the power play is a good example of what not to do, and I doubt Loiselle would have made that mistake.

I do think that the next Habs GM is quite likely to be Larry Carriere. He's a direct hire by Geoff Molson and was clearly shoved behind the bench not for his hidden coaching talents but because the head office wanted eyes inside the room. Carriere also speaks the requisite French.

I'll agree that Savard is also a candidate, albeit a minor one, because he also has ties to the Molsons. Better him than Bob Gainey at this point.

Bryan Willey: It all makes you wonder why Molson has not acted yet?

I am relatively confident that Gauthier is not his man so my guess is that the man in question is currently employed by another organization.

Because of this assumption I do not think that Carriere is part of the plans going forward.

There have been reports that Molson has been in contact with Savard. My take on this is that Molson is looking at hiring a rookie GM and wants the mentoring ability of a Savard to help along the way.

Personally, I would view this as a mistake because Savard has been completely out of the loop for more than a decade. The Canadiens need someone with in-depth knowledge of the game today.

In regards to Loiselle, I wonder how important he really is in during negotiations. If the Habs wanted to sign Brad Richards for five million dollars and the Rangers offered him seven million then the chances of him coming to Montreal would hover between slim to none, regardless of Loiselle's talents.

If he is simply a means of cap management then the organization should hire one of the best CFO's in Quebec and have him run the books.

I am thinking more along the lines of bringing in a man who can bring back the cockiness, pride, and arrogance that made this team so great. In my eyes, McGuire leads that race.

Rosalyn Roy: I'm not really willing to speculate on what Molson will or will not do. I do agree Savard is well past his expiry date when it comes to GM potential. I'm pretty sick of the old boy's club that has been in charge of this club for far too long.

Contract negotiation and proper cap management are essential in the realities of today's NHL. And Loiselle has perfectly acceptable credentials and experience that extend beyond that a mere accountant would obviously lack. Whatever one may think of the Maple Leafs, Brian Burke does not fill his head office with incompetent people.

The Habs' arrogance, self-entitlement and cockiness are not attributes that have served them well in the recent past.

Pierre McGuire's passion aside, if he were as ideal a candidate as he seems to think he is, he'd have held a GM position for years now, or at least risen through the upper ranks of an NHL team.

McGuire is pretty low on my list of candidates I want retooling this team. He has bashed this team for too many years for my liking, even when they got it right like during the Jaroslav Halak for Lars Eller trade, which in hindsight was a solid deal.

He enjoys the press and sensationalizes pretty much anything and everything. He is far too emotional at times, hindering his ability for logical, clear headed decisions. And, frankly, his mouth runs most of the time

Arrogance, cockiness and pride are not what this team needs and not what has made them great in the past either. What made them great was a combination of talent, skill, hard work, a solid pipeline and good luck.

The organization needs practical solutions and I don't see anything in McGuire that makes me think he could offer more than any other mainstream pundit.

He may have been right about a lot of things, but the bottom line is I don't like him and I don't see anything that makes me trust him to retool this team either.

Bryan Willey: That's where I disagree. The best GM's surround themselves with the best talent. We need a guy with direction to surround himself with a capologist, an assistant GM, and other qualified people.

Sure, bring Loiselle in to help with cap but not as the guy making key decisions. Kind of like Nill to Holland or Brisebois to Yzerman.

This needs to be done with a team effort.

Rosalyn Roy: If we're talking mouthpiece only who can pander to the press while his underlings do all the actual work then yes, Pierre McGuire will suffice nicely.

Claude Loiselle ran Tampa Bay's AHL affiliate and, as a result, has experience assessing upcoming talent. As an ex-hockey player he is still young enough to have some insight into the game that does not pre-date the last Canadiens Cup win. It's not solely about his experience in the financial end of things, but rather his resume as a whole.

As an experienced assistant GM for two NHL teams now, he's got solid credentials and experience that I find sorely lacking McGuire.

Bryan Willey: Regardless, McGuire is still my choice. A local guy with an indepth knowledge of all levels of hockey.

It's easy to assume that his knowledge is courtesy of the the TSN team, but it isn't. He calls the local TSN 990 everyday and has conversations on so many players, their stats, their home town and their junior careers.

His experience as an assistant GM is from to long ago, but his critical comments towards a lack of scouting in Quebec, his comments on the Habs' horrendous pro scouting, everything is spot on.

Regardless of expeirence, I like his attitude and the fact he is right a lot more than he is wrong.

What do you think? Who would you choose as the Habs next GM?

Bryan is a Marketer by day, writer for by night and full time fan of the game. Follow me on twitter @BryanWilley78 but don't bother looking for me on Facebook, I'm just too old for that now!

Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.

He Said / She Said is regular column on HabsAddict slated to appear on a bi-weekly basis.

(Photo by Getty Images North America)


If we could get him I think Pierre Dorion would be fit the Habs well. He has a good track record and has helped the Senators uncover some gems in the draft. The Habs must build team through draft, not the free agent route.

Wayne J.Williams

Good stuff Bryan and Roz. Really interesting names you throw out there, including some that have not been much mentioned yet!

@Wayne (aka habs21williams)

Pierre Dorion might not be a bad choice, but I think I many would be a bit disillusioned to see yet again a former Ottawa Senator play a key role in the management of the team.

@Wayne......funny you should mention this because during the ASG I was looking at some of the players and admiring the names that have emerged out of Ottawa.

Habs fans are upset because we let Matt D'Agostini, Sergei Kostitsyn, etc... walk away to bigger and better things with different organizations.

What about Sens fans. How different things would be if they still had Fisher, Havlat, Chara, Hossa, Vermette, Volchenkov, etc.....

Interesting indeed.

"his comments on the Habs' horrendous pro scouting, everything is spot on."

REALLY? Two NON ANECDOTAL articles that would challenge that assumption about our draft performance in comparison to the rest of the league. So i guess Pierre McGuire who apparently KNOWS everything about Hockey does NOT know the ACTUAL HABS drafting success. Interesting....

"If Montreal has not succeeded it is not for an abject failure in the scouting system, but perhaps a distaste for risk. After all, when you can go into rounds 2 to 9 of a draft and say - "we'll come out with 3 players who'll be suiting up in the next 5 years if we go with sound strategy" - who would go with less?"

"When it is considered that in those years that the Canadiens have only once drafted in the top 5, the information, all taken together, shows that they have maintained a fairly strong ratio, among the best, of turning draft choices into NHL players"

Pierre, No thanks!

Rosalyn articulates my sentiments towards McGuire to the fullest. I have been a Habs fan for 40+ years and hiring McGuire would make me re-consider my allegiance.

@Anon (first one)

Bryan is referring to PRO scouting - scouting at the AHL, NHL levels, not the amateur level.

I think the lot of us would agree that Trevor Timmins and company have done a decent job, especially uncovering late round gems like Halak, Lapierre and Streit.

But, pro-scouting wise, there is an argument to be made that the team has not always done so well.

Hey HabsAddicts,

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents to this fine conversation about amateur drafting.

As Louis just put it, the Habs have indeed done a VERY good job at drafting at the amateur (junior) level.

If you look at the list below, it is a recap, for all 30 teams, of all players drafted at the junior level between the years 2003 to 2007 included.

I've added up the NHL regular season games played and offensive stats of all players that were drafted in these years, and have credited these numbers to the team that drafted them, regardless where they played these games (ie, Guillaume Latendresse's numbers are showing completely under MTL, even though he's played 82 games with MIN).

The numbers don't lie: MTL's draft picks, throughout these 5 years, have played by far the most NHL games with 3771. At the other end, TB's system has only produced 941 games and 31 goals (Stamkos was drafted in 2008).

It's not who the Habs draft, it's what they do (or don't do?) with them ...
1 MTL 3771 539 830 1369 2379
2 CHI 3540 592 1024 1616 2388
3 SJ 3407 618 882 1500 1489
4 BOS 3296 633 996 1629 2104
5 CLB 3251 374 649 1023 2876
6 PIT 3169 702 1149 1851 2944
7 BUF 2881 505 718 1223 1860
8 NAS 2728 332 639 971 1302
9 WAS 2658 598 971 1569 1360
10 ANA 2647 519 821 1340 2607
11 EDM 2592 286 513 799 2287
12 FLA 2492 468 579 1047 1495
13 LA 2423 460 616 1076 1260
14 COL 2377 481 735 1216 1181
15 DAL 2283 351 524 875 1640
16 STL 2128 353 601 954 1616
17 NYI 2126 238 469 707 1000
18 NYR 2078 329 465 794 1235
19 PHO 2067 322 546 868 1058
20 CAR 2049 440 632 1072 1252
21 OTT 1936 232 379 611 1036
22 VAN 1910 353 486 839 1432
23 MIN 1788 231 327 558 1289
24 NJ 1648 346 485 831 682
25 TOR 1463 184 296 480 479
26 PHI 1454 374 450 824 1208
27 CAL 1415 170 336 506 1542
28 WIN 1407 142 362 504 935
29 DET 1375 218 237 455 601
30 TB 941 31 86 117 689

McGuire just knows too much about the sport to dismiss so easily. He may not have GM experience but is often in the company of enough GM's to at least have a feel for the position. I've heard him be tough on the Habs at times but I've also heard him speak incredibly positively about the club. He may not be the top candidate but I do believe he deserves serious consideration. I can't say I would be opposed to giving him a shot.

Great article!

@ Anon,

Sorry but Louis actually already answered for me. I have been happy with our Amateur scouting. As you have pointed out there are so many ex-Montreal picks in the NHL.

Where I think we seriously lack is with the pro-scouting. There is no reason why Gomez should have ever been named to the team......especially at the cost of what many considered our best prospect in McDonaugh, a decent prospect in Valentenko and Higgins.

Given our track record with the draft.....a credit that should be given to Timmens, just imagine what we could look like if we had a staff in place that could assess pro-talent.

It's a part of the management which needs a tremendous amount of work.

Knowledge does not equate to wisdom. Anyone can learn to play a cover song, not everyone has the skill/creativity to know how to write the music. I can't say for certain that McGuire doesn't have that but as Rosalyn mentioned above, his love of the camera and grand pronouncements does not "IN MY MIND" make him the IDEAL candidate for the Habs. I don't think McGuire is the "MONSTER" the Habs are looking for.

I am by the way no saying that McGuire is the answer to our woes at the GM position, he is just my personal choice. There is a chance he can absolutely bomb because of his lack of recent experience.

I just want to see him given a shot.

Well folks enough of the arguing about who's going to be the next GM for the Canadiens because nobody really knows except Geoff Molson, and he is not telling us. Pierre McGuire likes the sound of his own voice too much for my liking, he got on my nerves continually when he was a colour commentator on TSN with Gord Miller. I really feel that Larry Carriere will be the choice like as already been said he wasn't put behind the bench because of his coaching skills. Larry and Geoff have a relationship that will see him fill the spot weather we like it or not, so Bryan & Rosalyn there you go the rest of your choices and the old boys club will not make it they been out hockey to long.

Please not Pierre McGuire. He is a stat memorizing parrot who loves to hear himself talk. If he was so skilled, why he is only being hired to babble instead of deal? Any time he tries to utter an original thought, which is not really that often (see parrot reference) it is painful to listen to. This suggestion is right up there with Patrick Roy for GM. Both lack the emotional maturity and balance to run a hockey business effectively.

Greetings fellow Habs fans. kudos to kamal and the other writers for making this site an interesting place to visit with intelligent discussion. Well, now we know how it feels to be looking up from last place. We all knew this was coming, didn't we? And we'd better get used to it, because we are looking at a minimum 5-year rebuild. My humble opinion is that it may not matter much who is the GM. Ownership does matter, though, and I am glad to have Geoff Molson, whom I have met and chatted with, as the owner of this team. Geoff knows hockey, he knows Montreal, and he knows the Habs. I believe that he will be instrumental in many of the management decisions over the next few years, and I have confidence in him. The Kaberle trade was a roll of the dice and so far it has been more or less neutral. The jury is out on the Cammy trade. But Geoff surely had a hand in these and will, I hope and expect, be involved in all subsequent trades under his watch.
Thanks to Francois Dumais for that ingenious number crunching. If you take Crosby and Ovechkin out of those calculations, the numbers look even better. Although the Habs' pro scouting has been deficient, I still believe that the team's critical weakness has been in the coaching. Coaching can make a 20-point difference in any given season. If management can find the right coach, and Markov returns to something resembling his former self, the team will finish 20 points higher in 2013 than 2012. But at the rate they're going, even that may not be sufficient to reach the playoffs!

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