Dave Sandford, NHLI via Getty Images
The Canadiens have their new general manager. He’s Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager Marc Bergevin, whom the team introduced at a Wednesday afternoon news conference in Brossard.
Team owner Geoff Molson described the Bergevin hiring as “the first step toward creating a winning culture” on the club.
Molson frequently alluded to Bergevin’s leadership qualities, communication skills and commitment to winning.
The new GM was understandably reluctant to get specific about player personnel decisions, such as the future of Scott Gomez.
Bergevin listed his priorities as hiring a new coach, signing restricted free agents Carey Price and P.K. Subban and preparing for the June draft, where the Canadiens will have the third overall choice … although Bergevin would not rule out trading the pick if, in his judgement, the move would improve the club.
Bergevin said director of scouting and player development Trevor Timmins will “definitely be at the draft table.”
Assistant general manager Larry Carrière will remain with the team in an undefined role.
And Bergevin’s first phone was to Randy Cunneyworth. The GM considers Cunneyworth one of the team’s assistant coaches, pending the hiring of a new head coach, who will choose his own assistants.
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The Chicago Tribune was first out of the blocks with a report in a 2:15 am ET blog item today that the Canadiens would name Blackhawks assistant GM Bergevin Montreal’s new GM. The Tribune attributed the report to a source. TSN and multiple sources later confirmed the news and the Habs made it official shortly after 8:30 am.
Bergevin and NBC analyst Pierre McGuire were apparently leading the race for the job, the candidate pool seemingly having shallowed in the past week.
This morning, Sports Illustrated’s Mike Farber told CJAD that McGuire was informed in the past hour (6:30-7:30 am ET) that McGuire was runner-up in the race, so that pretty much seals the deal. And Tampa Bay Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois told both CJAD and RDS that he’s received the call to tell him he was not the chosen one.
• Sportsnet reports this morning that Scott Gomez’s contract is likely to be bought out.
This morning, by text message, Gomez told Hockey Inside/Out that he knew nothing of a buyout: “As I’ve said before, that’s a management decision,” Gomez texted. “I only worry about what I can control and I’m already in the gym getting ready for next season. That’s my only focus. I’ll let the media focus on rumours and debate what (the Canadiens) should or shouldn’t do.”
Here’s a Chicago Tribune profile of Bergevin from last December by Chris Kuc, who broke the story this morning. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisKuc.
In the story, Kuc relates one of prankster Bergevin’s best:
“…which he pulled off while playing for the Blues. He worked with a St. Louis newspaper reporter to concoct a fake story that put Blues GM Larry Pleau in a bad light. Bergevin had the story inserted into the team’s daily clippings, and after Pleau read it, he angrily confronted the reporter before Bergevin revealed he was the culprit.”
Canadiens official release received at 9:40 am ET:
From the Blackhawks’ 2011-12 media guide:
Habs GM history, from their 2011-12 media guide:
Below, in 2002 with St. Louis. © Tom Pidgeon, NHLI via Getty Images
TV interview in French, 1992: