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Canadiens executive vice-president Jeff Gorton marks new era, meets Montreal media

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New Habs VP Jeff Gorton meets Montreal media and sets tone for new GM pick – Dec 3, 2021

It’s been the talk of the town among sports fans for the past week: the Montreal Canadiens firing longtime general manager Marc Bergevin and bringing in Jeff Gorton as executive vice-president. The newly appointed VP met with the Montreal media for the first time Friday morning to mark the start of a new era.

The former New York Rangers general manager started by attempting to say a few sentences in French. When finished, he thanked owner Geoff Molson and said, “I hope that was OK.”

Gorton said working for the Habs is a dream. He feels like the Original Six franchise is a good fit, despite the fact that the Massachusetts-born VP grew up cheering for the Boston Bruins.

“You know, the Canadians broke my heart a lot of times. That’s my first memories, like in 1979, probably sticks out as the first one,” he told reporters.

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Gorton insisted that he’s just starting out in his new role and he’s still getting a feel for the team. Regardless, the executive vice-president plans to work on player development and wants to add an analytics team.

Read more: Call of the Wilde — Colorado Avalanche easily handle Montreal Canadiens 4-1

“I do believe in analytics and I think that the way the game has gone, I think it’s a big piece of information that you need to have,” said Gorton.

A big piece missing from his qualifications is that Gorton doesn’t speak French. He said he’s learning — his wife even bought him lessons — and asks for patience.

“I wanted to be great at golf and I still stink. Right? So I will do my best,” he said, chuckling.

Fans seem to support his effort, saying it’s not language that will help the Habs get out of this season’s slump.

“He did some sentences in French this morning, so I think it’s a good step forward,” said fan Patrick Gervais.

Read more: Call of the Wilde — The Montreal Canadiens’ future begins to take shape

The team is still looking for a French-speaking general manager to complement Gorton. Former Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy has expressed interest in the position. But Gorton says he has yet to draw up a shortlist, adding that it’s unlikely Bergevin’s successor will be named before Christmas.

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“I don’t want to commit to anybody. I don’t want to say no to anybody so people can keep calling me if they like,” he said.

However, Global News hockey analyst Brian Wilde doesn’t expect Roy to get the job.

Instead, he said he thinks Molson and Gorton would like “someone who has a lot of experience in scouting and has some experience as an assistant general manager.”

“I think Mark Madden fits the role in Anaheim,” said Wilde.

Wilde says he liked what he heard from Gorton on Friday. But the executive vice-president kept his cards close so fans will have to wait to see what the Gorton era brings.

“I don’t think we got our answer to whether it’s going to be a full rebuild, and I think we’re going to have to wait just to see how many moves he makes,” said Wilde.

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