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Stu Cowan: Don't expect Patrick Roy to be next GM of the Canadiens

Mathieu Darche and Daniel Brière appear to be the leading candidates to work under new executive V.P. of hockey operations Jeff Gorton.

Colorado Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy looks on as a fan holds an old Patrick Roy jersey during game against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal on March 18, 2014.

It seems highly unlikely that Patrick Roy will be the next general manager of the Canadiens.

Roy probably knows that, which would explain why he was willing to be so vocal about his desire to fill the vacant position rather than sitting back quietly and letting things play out — which is what Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson would surely prefer because that’s more his style.

“Since 1993, the team has been running in circles,” Roy said Tuesday when speaking to Le Journal de Québec . “What do they have to lose by giving me the chance to see what I can do with this club? At the same time, I understand the situation. The club is owned by Geoff Molson and he’s the one pulling the strings. It’s his team and at the end of the day, I might not be the guy for him. I accept that.”

Roy has stirred the pot and positioned himself perfectly so that if things don’t work out with Jeff Gorton, the new executive vice-president of hockey operations, and whoever the next GM will be, he can say: “See, I told you they should have given me a chance.”

Roy will also no doubt have much of the French media on his side in Montreal. After Molson’s news conference Monday to officially announce Gorton as the new man in charge, the front page of the Journal de Montréal the next day had a sarcastic English headline “Good luck Mister Gorton!” along with a French sub-headline “Un Américain et le nouveau patron hockey” (An American is the new hockey boss) while also noting the Massachusetts native is the first unilingual anglophone in 57 years to be in charge of hockey operations with the Canadiens.

Roy, who was the goalie the last two times the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, in 1986 and 1993, has a reputation of not playing well with others. It was five years ago that the Hall of Famer resigned as head coach and vice-president of hockey operations with the Colorado Avalanche, catching GM Joe Sakic off-guard with his decision two months before the start of the season. Roy was upset he didn’t have enough of a say in player personnel decisions.

“I would be ready to work with (Gorton),” Roy told the Journal de Québec. “He seems to be a person that is passionate about hockey. I’ve always been a guy who loved working in teams.”

Roy noted that as GM and head coach of the Quebec Remparts he has never had a problem working with team president Jacques Tanguay. But comparing the QMJHL and NHL is like apples and oranges.

There’s no doubt Gorton is going to be the man in charge with the Canadiens and if he spoke French Molson probably would have named him GM instead of executive vice-president of hockey operations. Molson has made it very clear the GM and head coach must be bilingual, but Gorton was given a pass on speaking French in his new position.

“The general manager’s the person that speaks to the fans and that’s the most important thing to me,” Molson said Monday. “Will Jeff be speaking with fans? Sure, he will be once in a while, but the general manager’s going to be the person who ultimately is going to be communicating with the fans and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

If Roy was to be named GM you’d have to think he would have his sights also set on Gorton’s job in the future rather than just being the French spokesperson for the American’s decisions — and Roy would probably get some help on that front from the French media (remember that headline?) if things start to go bad.

Montreal Canadiens’ Daniel Brière speaks with the media after a team practice at the Brossard Sports Complex on April 14, 2014.
Montreal Canadiens’ Daniel Brière speaks with the media after a team practice at the Brossard Sports Complex on April 14, 2014. Photo by Allen McInnis /The Gazette

That’s why I believe the most likely candidates for the GM job are Mathieu Darche (who would be my pick) and Daniel Brière, whose name has surfaced in the last few days. Darche is the director of hockey operations with the Tampa Bay Lightning under GM Julien BriseBois, who is also a close friend of his. Darche might already have more of a say there in hockey decisions than he would under Gorton in Montreal. Pierre LeBrun reported on TSN’s Insider Trading Tuesday that Darche’s name is on the list of candidates for the vacant GM job with the Anaheim Ducks, which might be a more appealing opportunity to him.

That’s why Brière, who for the last four years has been the vice-president of operations for the ECHL’s Maine Mariners, is starting to look like a leading candidate. Making the jump from the ECHL to GM of the Canadiens is a huge one and Brière would be in a better position to accept being a French spokesperson for Gorton while learning on the job than some of the other candidates.

“For me, the Canadiens, it’s more of a reset that is needed,” Roy said. “Not a rebuild.”

Sorry, Patrick, but Gorton is going to be the man making that decision.

  1. New York Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton, left, and Nashville Predators GM David Poile attend the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on June 24, 2016, in Buffalo.

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