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Bettman played role in Habs hiring of Gorton to run hockey operations – Montreal Gazette

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“Gary and I have a great relationship and we talk about these things all the time,” Habs owner Geoff Molson says about NHL commissioner.

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One of the people who recommended Geoff Molson hire Jeff Gorton was none other than NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

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“Gary and I have a great relationship and we talk about these things all the time,” Molson said Monday when asked if he had spoken with Bettman before hiring Gorton as the Canadiens’ new executive vice-president of hockey operations. “And when I have a situation that I’m trying to figure out, he’s one of those people that I trust and I rely on for his opinion. So when the name Jeff Gorton surfaced, for sure (he spoke to Bettman). Because he knows him, he works at the NHL — or he worked at the NHL as of yesterday — and so they got to know each other. He’s also been in the New York market. So, for sure, someone like Gary has a valued opinion and I value that.”

Gorton, who has signed a long-term contract with the Canadiens, had been working as an analyst with the NHL Network after being fired as GM of the New York Rangers in May.

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A source told the Montreal Gazette that Bettman had also recommended Gorton for the GM job with Chicago after Stan Bowman resigned last month following an investigation that showed the Blackhawks had mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.

“I think when you do your research on Jeff Gorton, you find that he has a very good reputation not only as a person but as a general manager and as somebody who can build relationships,” Molson said. “When I met with him, I was thoroughly impressed. And when I talked to other people in my circle about him, there were nothing but positive things to say about him. So I think we’re all going to really like to have him here. It will be a breath of fresh air and a fresh start is really important to me.”

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Gorton will lead the search for a new bilingual GM to replace Marc Bergevin and a new director of amateur scouting to replace assistant GM Trevor Timmins, who were both fired Sunday. Molson said his role won’t change.

“This decision to restructure the leadership of hockey operations has nothing to do with my role as president,” Molson said. “In the past, Marc was accountable for hockey performance, now there will be two (people). This is entirely my decision that I believe will make this team better.

“In terms of Jeff and what his vision is, I think Jeff is going to come here and we’re going to start a process to find the general manager that’s going to work alongside him,” Molson added. “But Jeff is going to come here and the new person is going to come here, and they’re going to assess the situation and they’re going to develop an identity that they want to have for this team and that’s their job — that’s not really my job. The one thing I can say about Jeff is he’s had many, many years of experience in various different roles, not only from a recruiting perspective or a scouting perspective, but also as assistant general manager and general manager of two teams (the Boston Bruins and the Rangers) and so to bring that breadth and depth of experience, I have no doubt that he and the new person will be able to develop a vision.”

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When asked if Gorton and the new GM will be given carte blanche when it comes to making changes, Molson said: “The two of them will be working together to make good decisions for the good of the organization. … When something has to happen that’s team related, the general manager has to be the final responsible person in making that decision, has to be accountable for it. But as far as everything else goes, personally I live in the business world and I see my teams working together and making decisions together, and to have two people thinking about making a smart decision is way better than having one person, especially in this market.”

scowan@postmedia.com

twitter.com/StuCowan1

  1. Geoff Molson, owner and president of the Montreal Canadiens, during news conference explaining the firing of general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant general manager Trevor Timmins and senior vice-president (public affairs and communications) Paul Wilson in Brossard on Nov. 29, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Canadiens won’t budge from having a bilingual GM

  2. Jeff Gorton prepares to work the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021, in Secaucus, N.J.

    Canadiens will rely on front-office tandem led by Jeff Gorton

  3. Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson, seen in a file photo, will hold a news conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday at 11 a.m.

    Stu Cowan: Habs take first steps in getting franchise back on track

  4. Marc Bergevin's most notable successes as Habs GM were the playoff run in 2014 and last summer’s run to within three victories of a championship. He is seen here in a file photo.

    Jack Todd: Firings mark the end of a tumultuous 2021 for the Canadiens

  5. Geoff Molson, owner and president of the Montreal Canadiens, at news conference explaining Sunday's firing of of general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant general manager Trevor Timmins and senior vice-president (public affairs and communications) Paul Wilson on Nov. 29, 2021, in Brossard.

    What the Puck: Kudos to Molson for cleaning Canadiens’ house

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Canadiens owner Geoff Molson says running hockey operations will be 2-person job – CBC.ca

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Geoff Molson felt the time was right for the Montreal Canadiens to emphatically turn the page.

And with his decision to engineer a clean break from general manager Marc Bergevin’s regime over the weekend, the scuffling team’s owner came to another realization.

Running the Canadiens’ hockey department under the glaring spotlight in a media-saturated, bilingual market — one unlike any other in the NHL — will be a two-person job moving forward.

“I strongly believe that this organization needs a fresh start,” Molson told reporters Monday during a press conference at the club’s practice facility in Brossard, Que. “At this stage, a fresh start is not so much at the team level, but rather at the management level.”

One of the roles, the newly formed executive vice-president of hockey operations, was filled less than 24 hours earlier when Molson announced Bergevin’s dismissal and the hiring of former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton.

The other — Montreal’s now-vacant GM position — will eventually be occupied by a bilingual candidate following what Molson said would be an “exhaustive” search, but also one completed with a caveat of “the sooner, the better.”

“[Gorton and the GM] are going to assess the situation,” Molson said. “They’re going to develop an identity they want.”

WATCH | Geoff Molson calls for a ‘fresh start’ in Montreal:

Canadiens owner Geoff Molson calls for a ‘fresh start’ in Montreal

6 hours ago

Watch a condensed English-language version of Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson’s press conference to announce the hiring of Jeff Gorton as executive vice president of hockey operations. 6:45

Bergevin was in his 10th season in charge when he was fired after a miserable 6-15-2 start to the 2021-22 campaign that came on the heels of last season’s stunning run to the Stanley Cup final.

Molson said Bergevin, who was in the final year of his contract, did a good job over his tenure, but change was required following an “unacceptable” start.

GM to have final word on hockey decisions

The owner also acknowledged his former GM, whose managerial career in Montreal was often marked by bold and sometimes controversial moves, could have used help in the front office.

“It’s a lot for one person,” Molson said. “If I could back up a few years and know what I know today, I would have complemented [Bergevin] with another person.

“It’s that big a job in this market.”

Molson said Gorton and the GM-to-be-named-later are expected to work in tandem, but the latter will have final say on hockey decisions.

He has a reputation for being a great evaluator of talent.— Canadiens owner Geoff Molson on Jeff Gorton, the newly hired executive VP of hockey ops

“To have two people thinking about making a smart decision is way better than having one person,” Molson said.

Gorton was fired by the Rangers last spring after they missed the playoffs, but much of the talent accumulated over his six seasons in charge has New York competing for top spot in the Metropolitan Division.

“Nobody’s perfect in the hockey world,” Molson said. “But I look at that team … it seems to be performing pretty well.

“He has a reputation for being a great evaluator of talent, but I think somebody who lasts all those years as a general manager must be doing something right.”

The 53-year-old from the Boston area was also briefly interim GM of the Bruins in 2006, and ran a draft that helped set the stage for the franchise’s Cup victory in 2011.

Mellanby abruptly resigns

Molson said Gorton, who signed what he called a “long-term” contract, will be in Montreal later this week and plans to move his family to Quebec for the start of the next school year.

“We’re all going to really like to have him here,” Molson added. “It’ll be a breath of fresh air.”

Having also fired assistant GM Trevor Timmins and public relations executive Paul Wilson on Sunday, and after assistant GM Scott Mellanby abruptly resigned Saturday as the Gorton rumours started to swirl, Molson said it’s on his two-headed management monster to hammer out how the organization goes about achieving its goals.

“I shared some of the high-level things [to Gorton] about vision — better scouting, better player development, a medical performance team and more diversity [in hockey ops],” Molson said. “It’s going to be up to them to figure out how we’re going to do that.”

Molson, who will remain Canadiens president, was asked to explain to people outside Quebec the need to have a GM able to speak English and French.

“It’s absolutely essential that the people that are working in our organization that communicate to fans on a daily basis, or on a regular basis, are able to communicate to them,” he said. “That’s one of the unique things about this market. It makes it complicated … complications can be good sometimes.

“I’m pretty excited about this one. We’ve got two new people joining the organization, one of them we know about and the other one is to be determined.”

Also left to be determined is the fate of head coach Dominique Ducharme.

He had his interim tag removed and earned a contract extension after making the final, but there’s been a clear disconnect in 2021-22 for a group minus captain Shea Weber because of injury and star goalie Carey Price, who continues to work his way back after entering a residential treatment facility for substance use.

‘I’m a pretty good listener’

“I don’t make the coaching decision,” Molson said. “I haven’t even discussed that with [Gorton].

“As far as I’m concerned he’s the coach and he’s staying there.”

Molson added he’s never interfered in hockey decisions, and if Gorton and his counterpart agree a rebuild — a roster tear-down that could at least a few seasons — is the best way forward, he wouldn’t stand in the way.

“I’m not afraid of that word,” he said. “And I think our fans wouldn’t be afraid of that word either. I’m somebody who’s a pretty good listener. I ask a lot of questions, and I try to make my opinions informed.

“If that is proposed to me, I would take everything very seriously.”

Molson said as of Monday morning he’d yet to reach out to fellow NHL organizations about speaking with potential GM candidates, but the awkward timing of this housecleaning could make things tricky knowing some targets are currently under contract.

“We’ll cross that bridge,” he said. “But I don’t think we would rush into anything if we think a better candidate is going to be available in the off-season.

“We will pick the best candidate no matter what.”

And that person will have a partner in Gorton to share the burden, unlike Bergevin or his predecessors.

“Management of the team and the media around the team and the crises that happen and the ups and the downs,” Molson said in describing the mammoth task. “And then you have trading and you have signing contracts — in two languages, the whole time. With the expertise that Jeff brings, and hopefully the expertise the new general manager brings, it’s just going to make us better.

“I truly believe that it’s important to have in this market, living in this market, two people at the head.”

It might take years, but Molson will eventually find out if he’s right.

WATCH l Canadiens’ big 3rd period sinks Penguins on Saturday:

Allen stops 47, Canadiens double-up Penguins

2 days ago

Jake Allen stood on his head, making a career-high 47 saves en route to a 6-3 Montreal victory over Pittsburgh. 0:58

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Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Stampeders in CFL Western Semi-Final – CTV News Regina

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REGINA –

The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Calgary Stampeders 33-30 in overtime on Sunday at Mosaic Stadium.

The win earned the club a trip to Winnipeg to meet the regular-season champion Blue Bombers on Dec. 5.

“I don’t even care if I kicked the game-winning field goal. I just wanted to win this game so bad for the fans. This province deserves it so much,” Brett Lauther, Riders’ kicker said after the game.

It was his field goal from 34-yards out that clinched victory for the Riders.

Lauther kicked the field goal, the crowd went wild, but a flag laid on the 20-yard line.

“I did a double-take because I knew as soon as the ball was snapped and Kaare (Vedvik) put it down we had it, it was perfect,” said Lauther. “I was trying to stop my heart rate for a second in case I had to go back out there.”

The flag was on Calgary, the penalty was declined and the game was over.

“One hundred per cent I knew he was going to make it,” Ed Gainey, defensive star, said of his team’s kicker after the game.

By his admission, it was not Cody Fajardo’s best game — he threw four interceptions.

“If you’d have told me I’d throw four picks and we’d win, I’d say you were psychotic,” Fajardo said after a game.

Fajardo said he was ready to throw away the statistics and focus on the win. The 29-year old starter went 22 for 33 for 189 yards with a single touchdown and four interceptions. Fajardo was also the team’s leading rusher, scampering downfield for 89 yards on ten carries.

“It was kind of a result of what they were giving us.” Fajardo said. “For me as a runner, it helps me get into the rhythm of the game, you feel the chains moving, and I think it’s something I’ve relied on most of my career.”

Head coach Craig Dickenson says while he and his quarterback know that he didn’t have his best game, he found a way to win.

“[Cody] threw some picks tonight. He knows that. He made some plays with his legs and when we needed him to make some throws, he made them. The guy’s a winner,” Craig Dickenson said of his quarterback’s performance.

Calgary’s Bo Levi Mitchell threw two interceptions, both to Ed Gainey, who credited the defensive game plan for his success.

“Defence wins championships at the end of the day,” Gainey said.

He went 26 for 36 for 285 yards with two picks. Stamps running back Ka’Deem Carey turned in another strong performance against the Roughriders, gaining 117 yards on 22 tries with a pair of touchdowns.

A penalty at the end of the first half meant the Riders kicked off from mid-field. Instead of kicking deep, head coach Craig Dickenson rolled the dice on an on-side kick. Brett Lauther sent the ball sailing high and it was A.C. Leonard who came down with it.

A major penalty was assessed to Stamps defensive end Shawn Lemon after he shoved Riders receiver Duke Williams in the face.

Following the on-side kick recovery, the Riders’ offence made good on the effort. Cody Fajardo faked a pass and scampered downfield for a big gain. On the very next play, Fajardo found Kian Schaffer-Baker inside the pylon for a 25-yard touchdown and a 17-8 lead.

The Stampeders mounted a late-game rally including a pair of field goals from Rene Parades, who had two misses in the contest, including one in overtime that gave the Riders a window to win.

“The winner of this game gets to go play Goliath,” Dickenson said of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. “They’ve been the best team all year, we’re happy to be playing them, and we’re going to give them a good game.”

The West Final featuring the Riders and Bombers will take place next Sunday at 3 p.m.

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