Gainey is gone
Pierre Gauthier taking over
Bob Gainey resigns as general manager of Montreal Canadiens after tumultuous era at helm of hockey’s most storied franchise.
MONTREAL (CP) — Bob Gainey has resigned as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens after a tumultuous era at the helm of hockey’s most storied franchise, becoming the latest in a string of Habs GMs to leave without a championship.
Gainey becomes the third straight Habs general manager to leave the job without delivering a Stanley Cup — a once-unthinkable statistic for a team that was dominant for decades.
Gainey will remain employed with the Habs as a consultant to new GM and executive vice-president Pierre Gauthier, and he told a news conference Monday that he remains devoted the team.
He presided over an era where the Canadiens were competent during the regular season, poor in the playoffs, and flooded by fans’ nostalgic adulation as they celebrated their 100th birthday.
“I’ve done my best and it’s time for me to pass the torch. I’m leaving the team that I love in good hands,” Gainey told reporters.
“ The job of general manager required a vision and a long-term commitment and I didn’t want to commit myself now for four, five or six more years.
“If I had to choose between leaving a little earlier, or a little later, I’d prefer (to go) earlier.”
The Gainey era ends with a record of 241-176-46-7 during the regular season, 11-22 in the postseason, and zero appearances beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The team is currently in sixth place in the East, with a record of 28-26-6 despite a crippling series of injuries to key players like Andrei Markov, Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn.
His successor, Gauthier, was general manager of the Ottawa Senators from 1995 to 1998 and of the Anaheim Ducks from 1998 to 2002, and has served the Canadiens in a variety of roles since 2006.
If Gauthier is preparing to make any drastic changes, he certainly wasn’t showing his cards Monday.
“It’s a great honour to become general manager of the Montreal Canadiens,” Gauthier said. “I like our team. I like the organization. I’m very comfortable with Jacques Martin and our team of coaches.”
Habs president Pierre Boivin announced the moves Monday. After delivering his statement, Boivin turned to face his departing GM and said: “I’m sure you would have preferred better results — but you can be proud of the organization and team you put in place.”
Gainey, a Hall of Fame winger who was team captain from 1981 to 1989, is considered among the best defensive forwards in the history of the game who had even the Soviets marvelling over his combination of grace and power on skates.
As a hockey executive, he received an outpouring of sympathy after losing his wife to cancer and then his daughter in a boating accident.
He was given a prolonged, emotional ovation on the night two seasons ago that his No. 23 jersey was retired.
But the team has never advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs under his watch.
Gainey said after last season’s four-game playoff sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins that his job would be on the line if the team did not show improvements this year.
Bob Gainey speaks at a news conference in Montreal, Monday, where he announced his resignation as GM of the Montreal Canadiens.