With the departure of Pierre Gauthier as the General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens, interim General Manager Serge Savard, along with principal owner Geoff Molson, will have the task of determining the next man to lead Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge.
Though no one in the organization has commented on who might be the next general manager, there are a few candidates who stand out even at this stage.
Whoever is chosen as the next GM, the Habs will likely want to get the hiring process done fairly quickly, at least in enough time to allow their new GM to prepare for the 2012 draft on June 22 in Pittsburgh.
But who might they hire? Check out the list below, have any suggestions of people we missed, leave them in the comments.
Marc Bergevin - The Assistant GM of the Chicago Blackhawks, is known to many hockey fans as the guy who threw the puck into his own net. He made his bones as an NHL executive with the Blackhawks, climbing the organizational ladder after starting as a scout in 2005. His is in his first season as the Assistant GM in Chicago and might be a bit light on experience, but he's 46, the perfect age to make the jump to the top job, a Montreal native and a rising star in the ranks of NHL front office people.
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Julien BriseBois - Possibly the best candidate for the job, BriseBois is a Quebec native who has worked in the Montreal organization in the past. He left a few years ago to become the Assistant GM in Tampa Bay where he has gotten to learn under the tutelage of Steve Yzerman. He has a law degree and manages the salary cap for the Bolts, and despite being only 34 he is a very well respected name around the league.
Pat Brisson - Brisson is somewhat of a dark horse candidate for the position. He's well known around the league, a French-Canadian, and was named in the top 100 most powerful people in the NHL by The Hockey News. However, he is an agent, the co-head of the hockey division of Creative Artists Agency. In that role he is the agent for Sidney Crosby, Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, Daniel Briere, the Sedin twins, John Tavares and Jonathan Toews, just to name a few. He might not want to give up such a lucrative pool of talent to jump into a much more visible and much more thankless role as an NHL GM.
Guy Carbonneau - Carbonneau will be a fan-favorite choice as the next Canadiens GM as a former captain and coach of the Habs. He nearly won the Jack Adams trophy in 2008, and has served as an assistant GM in Dallas but has not been involved in the NHL as anything more than an analyist since his firing in 2009. He may not be plugged in enough to take the job, but he should be considered.
Francois Giguere - Giguere has been an executive in numerous front offices since 1990 when he began his career with his hometown Quebec Nordiques. He was still with the organization when they won Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001, and spent time as the Assistant GM of the Dallas Stars in between. He was named the GM of the Avalanche in 2006, but was fired after a three year tenure during which they missed the playoffs twice.
Claude Loiselle - Loiselle is the Assistant General Manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but prior to that he was the Associate Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL working on things like salary arbitration and collective bargaining. He has worked as a scout for the Anaheim Ducks as well. Loiselle speaks French to his parents despite being born in Ottawa, and could be an excellent candidate for the job. However, if the ax falls on his boss Brian Burke in Toronto, he could also be in the running for that job.
Pierre McGuire - McGuire is a hockey analyst for NBC and prior to that has worked for TSN and the Canadiens as a broadcaster. He has been a scout and an assistant coach, including on the 1991 and 1992 Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He has been turned down for GM jobs in Tampa and Minnesota recently and is definitely a serious candidate despite his unorthodox background as a member of the media. However, as a member of the media he has been critical of teams and players, including some current Canadiens and that may preclude him from getting the job. Also, he's an American with minimal French skills. Molson said he wants the right candidate and that speaking French is important but not vital for his next GM, but that might hurt too. On the other hand, Canadiens legends like Frank Selke, Sam Pollock and Scotty Bowman didn't speak much French either.
Patrick Roy - Another sentimental choice among fans, Roy is one of the All-Time Canadiens and has his number 33 jersey retired by the club. His credentials as a player are immaculate, but as a GM things get a bit spotty. He has been the GM of his QMJHL team the Quebec Remparts since 2006, but the leap from the Q to the NHL is astronomical. He is a much more likely candidate to be the Canadiens next coach, but as a GM there are much better choices available.