It’s been the talk of the town among sports fans for the past week: The Montreal Canadiens fired general manager Marc Bergevin and hired Jeff Gorton as executive vice president. The newly appointed vice president met with the Montreal media for the first time on Friday morning to usher in a new era.
The former New York Rangers general manager began by trying to say a few phrases in French. When he finished, he thanked owner Geoff Molson and said, “I hope it was good.”
Gorton said that working for the Habs is a dream. He feels the Original Six franchise is a good fit, even though the Massachusetts-born vice president grew up rooting for the Boston Bruins.
“You know, Canadians broke my heart many times. Those are my first memories, like in 1979, it probably stands out as the first, ”he told reporters.
Gorton insisted that he is just starting out in his new role and that he still has feelings for the team. Regardless, the executive vice president plans to work on player development and wants to add an analytics team.
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“I believe in analytics and I think the way the game has gone, I think it’s a great piece of information that you need to have,” Gorton said.
One big piece missing from his grades is that Gorton doesn’t speak French. He said he is learning, his wife even bought him lessons, and asks for patience.
“I wanted to be good at golf and I still suck. Right? So I’ll do the best I can, ”he laughed.
Fans seem to support his effort, saying it is not the language that will help the Habs get out of this season’s slump.
“He did a few sentences in French this morning so I think it’s a good step forward,” said fan Patrick Gervais.
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The team is still looking for a French-speaking CEO to complement Gorton. Former Canadiens goalkeeper Patrick Roy has expressed interest in the job. But Gorton says he has yet to come up with a short list, adding that Bergevin’s successor is unlikely to be named before Christmas.
“I don’t want to commit to anyone. I don’t want to say no to anyone so that people can keep calling me if they want to, “he said.
However, Global News hockey analyst Brian Wilde doesn’t expect Roy to get the job.
Instead, he said he thinks Molson and Gorton would like “someone who has a lot of scouting experience and some experience as an assistant general manager.”
“I think Mark Madden fits the role in Anaheim,” Wilde said.
Wilde says he liked what he heard from Gorton on Friday. But the executive vice president kept his cards close, so fans will have to wait to see what the Gorton era brings.
“I don’t think we will have our answer as to whether it will be a full rebuild, and I think we will have to wait to see how many moves he makes,” Wilde said.
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