MONTREAL – The torch has been passed and there’s a new sheriff in town.
As Bob Gainey made his final curtain call as Canadiens GM after almost seven years on Monday, he handed the reins of the most storied franchise in hockey history to his right-hand man, Pierre Gauthier.
“I’ve always thought that working in the NHL is an honor and working as a GM is an honor,” offered Gauthier in his first official address as general manager. “And being the GM of the Montreal Canadiens is the greatest honor of them all. But today is about the team, not about me.”
With over 30 years of experience under his belt, Gauthier has drafted, signed and developed some of the best players in recent memory. He got his feet wet in the NHL scouting for the Quebec Nordiques in 1981. During his 12 years with the franchise, Gauthier helped draft the likes of Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros and Mats Sundin.
More recently, he was part of the Ottawa Senators’ resurgence during his time in the nation’s capital from 1995 to 1998, leading the franchise to the postseason in all but one of those seasons. After a stint in Anaheim, Gauthier came back home to Montreal.
“I’ve learned a lot from Bob in the past six and a half years since he brought me on board,” confided Gauthier, who previously held the assistant GM position and will continue to oversee the team’s pro scouting department. “I’ve been privileged to work with him as a colleague and a good friend and I’m glad he’ll be staying with us to help us reach our goals.
“Our goal is the same – to win the Stanley Cup,” emphasized Gauthier, who became the 16th general manager in Canadiens history following the announcement. “There are steps that need to be taken to go with that. First is to become a team in the top third of the league instead of being a team battling for a playoff spot at the end of season. That’s our goal and that’s our next step.”
Having been involved with Gainey every step of the way for nearly seven years, Gauthier already has a head start on the challenge in front of him.
“It’s an ongoing process. I’ve worked with Jacques [Martin] before in Ottawa and I’m very comfortable with the organization and with the team,” underlined Gauthier, who was also one of three NHL GMs with Team Canada at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano along with Gainey. “This is a new team with a lot of new players and it’s all about building the identity of our team and forming our leadership. The players we have are engaged, excited and committed and they’re here long term.
“When I leave here today, I’m looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting down to work.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.comSee also“I will be a Canadien forever” – Bob Gainey Pierre Gauthier named General Manager Pyatt recalled, White and Trotter to Hamilton