Mazziotti: Next Habs GM must speak the language of winning

It shouldn't matter who runs the Canadiens next if they can get a winning tradition back in Montreal. (Tim Kolupanowich/CM)

Will the next GM of the Montreal Canadiens have to speak French?

That is the question on the minds of many in the hockey world following the firing of the club’s GM Pierre Gauthier and special adviser Bob Gainey, Thursday.

Team President and CEO, Geoff Molson made the announcement at a press conference from the Canadiens practice facility while also announcing that former GM Serge Savard has been hired to head up a selection committee to find a replacement heading into the June entry draft.

Former Habs enforcer and Quebec native, Georges Laraque told he doesn’t think a bilingual GM is necessary for his hometown team’s success next season.

“Not at all,” said Laraque in a tweet response, Thursday.

Savard disagrees.

Savard, who won a Stanley Cup as Canadiens GM in 1993, told Prime Time Sports that Gauthier’s successor must be able to speak French.

“The guy doesn’t have to be a Francophone, but the guy has to be able to communicate in French,” he told the Toronto radio program.

The latest news comes after a season filled with much criticism from fans after Gauthier hired Randy Cunneyworth, an English speaking interim head coach.

The move was met with such heat that it even made Molson and Gauthier publicly second guess their decision and promise it would be rectified as seasons end.

This is ridiculous, of course, because it does not for a second matter what language a member of the organization speaks as long as he gets a winning result.

An argument on the contrary will be made by the majority of the club’s fan base which is of course Francophone, but I remain firm in my belief that the Canadiens should hire the best man for the job, not the best man for the job who happens to also speak French.

Many rumours coming out of Montreal have placed former Habs goaltender and four-time Stanley Cup Champion Patrick Roy as the frontrunner for either of the vacant coaching or manager positions.

Roy, who also won a Memorial Cup as head coach of the QMHL’s Quebec Ramparts does not have any NHL head coaching or GM experience under his belt, something Savard says is not a prerequisite for the Habs job.

“I won’t turn down anybody that never had any experience as a manager as long as he has very good judgement and knows hockey,” he told PTS, Thursday.

The Canadiens, who are mercifully at the end of their worst season since a 70 point embarrassment in 2000-01 cannot afford to make another mistake finding replacements for Gauthier and Cunneyworth.

Patrick Roy is not the right hire for either posting. Sure, he is a big name with strong ties to the storied hockey franchise and would be a sexy story heading into next season, but that move would spell disaster long-term.

Attendance in Montreal has started to dwindle and history shows unlike loyal Maple Leafs fans, frustrated hockey goers in La Belle Province will stay away if the on-ice product is not up to gold standards.

It is of utmost importance that the Montreal Canadiens hire a name synonymous with winning, a name etched in hockey folklore, and while Roy may have been great as a player, he does not have the experience necessary to fill the big shoes waiting in the Montreal Canadiens front office, period.

Savard did say, however, he feels this team is not far from reaching the playoffs and with the right hire, can be on the right track very quickly.

“I think they have good players, (and) we have to ask them to be good leaders on this team,” he told the radio program.

It has been a season which has left Montreal Canadiens fans of any language speechless. Let’s all hope the next Habs GM, whoever he is, has that certain, “Je ne sais quoi.”

Angelo Mazziotti, Contributing Writer



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  1. Agreed. Roy’s extra-curricular antics and impetuous attitude would inevitably become a distraction in Montreal and would outweigh the benefit gained from having a “winner” in charge.

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