Habs owner and president Geoff Molson showed guts when he decided to hire a unilingual American to run the hockey operations.

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Jeff Gorton admitted that it felt strange to wear a CH pin to the lapel of his business suit Friday morning when he met with the Montreal media for the first time since he was named executive vice president of hockey operations for the Canadiens.

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Gorton is from Melrose, Massachusetts, and grew up a huge fan of the Boston Bruins. His favorite player was Bruins goalie Gerry Cheevers, and Gorton was also a goalie on his high school team.

Gorton hung up his notepads after high school and focused on his studies. at Bridgewater State University , graduated in physical education in 1991 and master in sports management in 1993. But he never lost his passion for hockey.

As a graduate student in 1992, Gorton began working in the Bruins’ public relations department as an intern, and at age 23, the team hired him full-time to deal with the media and organize public appearances for the players. He was also tasked with starting a database for exploration reports and a video library.

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That led to a job scouting before being promoted to assistant general manager and eventually general manager of the Bruins.

So it’s understandable that Gorton felt strange on Friday as he read an opening statement in French (wrong, but he gets an “A” for effort) as the new man in charge of turning the Canadiens around.

“Being from Boston, of course, the Canadiens broke my heart many times,” Gorton said. “Those are my earliest memories (of the Canadiens): 1979 probably stands out as the first one where they dumped things at my house with too many men on the ice.”

The Bruins led the Canadiens 4-3 with 2:34 remaining in Game 7 of their 1979 Stanley Cup semifinal series at the Forum when they were penalized by too many men. Guy Lafleur scored on the power play to tie the game and Yvon Lambert scored the winning goal in overtime and the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.

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Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson showed guts when he decided to hire a unilingual American to run hockey operations, obviously aware of the linguistic controversy it would provoke in Quebec. The fact that Molson has promised that the new GM, who will work with Gorton, will speak French should tone down the controversy a bit, but there is no question that Gorton is in charge.

During his 30-minute press conference on Friday, Gorton showed many of the reasons Molson believes he is the best for the job, starting with his opening statement in French and a promise to learn to speak the language better.

“I’d like to be as good as I can be,” he said. “My wife bought me some (French) lessons online that I’m starting. So I will do my best, it would be my commitment to you. I can’t say that I will speak the language fluently because I don’t know how well…. 30 years ago, I wanted to be good at golf and I still suck. I’ll do my best. I promise you. I’ve been working hard on what I said today. I had to read it, but I think I got it right. Hopefully, I can move on and build on that. “

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Gorton will be judged more on how he can rebuild the Canadiens than on how his French lessons are going, and the 53-year-old has a lot of work ahead of him. He definitely has the experience to get the job done after his time with the Bruins, followed by his stint as general manager for the New York Rangers, where he began what has been a successful rebuild before being shockingly fired in May, along with the president. of the John Davidson team. .

For the first time since taking on the new job, Gorton saw the Canadiens in person Thursday night at the Bell Center as they trailed 4-1 to the Colorado Avalanche, lowering their record to 6-17-2. Gorton said he wants to spend more time getting to know the players and staff before making decisions, but said head coach Dominique Ducharme’s job is safe until the end of the season.

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As for who will be the new general manager, Gorton said the decision probably won’t be made until after Christmas. When asked about the length of his contract, Gorton only said that it is a multi-year contract.

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Two of the things that top Gorton’s priority list are improving player development and creating an analysis team.

When asked what attracted him to the Canadiens work, Gorton said: “First of all, it’s the Montreal Canadiens, No. 1. It’s the Original Six. It is the city of Montreal. It’s the story here of this franchise (that) excites me. From my experience, it seems to be a path where I somehow ran into the Original Six. Once I spoke to Geoff Molson, I spoke about what I was thinking, where the organization needed to go, what they were looking for, I felt it was the right place for me. So here I am today. “

The kid who grew up a Bruins fan now runs the Canadiens.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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