After making his first front office hire on Thursday - amateur scout Bobby Kinsella - Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin has made a pair of higher-profile personnel moves.
Long-time Bergevin mentor Rick Dudley has officially left the Toronto Maple Leafs fold and will join the Canadiens as Bergevin’s assistant GM.
It had been widely rumoured when Bergevin was appointed four weeks ago that Dudley would be joining him, and after a protracted negotiation with Leafs GM Brian Burke - the main point of contention being whether Dudley should be allowed to participate in this June's draft given the role he had in Toronto's draft-day preparation - the move is now official.
“I’m excited about it . . . to be fair to all parties involved this had to take some time,” Dudley said of the opportunity to join forces with Bergevin.
Asked why he decided to leave the Leafs for the Eastern conference cellar-dwellars, Dudley said the chance to work with the 46-year-old Bergevin was the main factor.
“I thought this was a challenge that I wanted, but if it wasn’t Marc, I'm not sure anything would have happened,” he said.
The two men are close friends and first met in Chicago after the 2004-05 lockout when the Blackhawks asked Dudley to show Bergevin, a recently-retired defenceman, the ropes of NHL scouting.
“It wasn’t long before he didn’t really need my help,” Dudley told a conference call from his vacation home in New York state.
Bergevin also confirmed he has offered a contract extension to the incumbent assistant general manager, Larry Carriere, who joined the team last season from Buffalo.
Carriere and Dudley are well-acquainted, having played together for the Sabres in the early 1970s.
"Larry's been a pillar since I was hired on May 4," Bergevin said.
It’s not immediately clear how the three men will share the workload, Bergevin said Dudley will be excluded from the discussions about the draft - the new GM said scouting director Trevor Timmins would have a free hand.
“I’m absolutely fine with that,” Bergevin said of Burke’s conditions.
The wily 63-year-old Dudley is known as a dab hand at ferreting out talent, and will serve as Bergevin's eminence grise on player personnel matters.
There is speculation that Bergevin might reach out to one-time teammate Scott Mellanby, who recently left his position as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues.
Though Bergevin wouldn’t confirm he has talked to Mellanby, he said “you can never enough good hockey people around . . . I’m still looking.”