The new executive vice president of hockey operations for the Montreal Canadiens met with the media Friday, as Jeff Gorton did his best to work through an opening statement in French before taking questions. While there were nearly a half-dozen questions about the potential of Patrick Roy joining him as general manager -- something Gorton would not commit to or rule out -- eventually he was also asked about the future of head coach Dominique Ducharme.
Gorton explained that he will not be making a coaching change this season, allowing Ducharme to play out the year before making a decision. There is no question that the position will be evaluated at that point, but Gorton repeatedly said that he needs more time to evaluate the whole organization before making any big decisions like that.
On the topic of general manager, Gorton told reporters that he won’t be making any hire until after Christmas and noted that the team will be potentially looking for an “outside the box” candidate. He and team president Geoff Molson have not yet made a list of candidates, as he continues to get familiar with the organization.
There was also a discussion of building out the analytics and player development departments, with Gorton explaining that it’s necessary to have as much support as possible for players from the moment they are drafted. That could prove very important in the coming years, as Montreal looks like they may need to go through at least a partial rebuild after losing their 19th game of the season Thursday night. The team was outshot 33-20 by the Colorado Avalanche, a team in the second half of a back-to-back. That was the first time Gorton was with the team in person since being hired, but he is headed out on the road with them to Nashville to continue his evaluations.
Ducharme, who is safe through the end of the season, now has a 21-33-9 regular-season record overall as head coach of the Canadiens, though he was also the one who took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. In July, he signed a three-year extension that keeps him under contract through 2023-24 and pays him approximately $1.7M per season.