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Handicapping the Habs GM candidates Add to ...

Word around the campfire is the Montreal Canadiens could name a new general-manager as soon as this week or next, having whittled down the list of potential candidates to just three or four - you can read about them in French here.

For those who don’t understand la langue de Moliere, the names are Marc Bergevin (assistant GM in Chicago), Julien BriseBois (assistant GM in Tampa), Francois Giguere (former GM in Colorado), and Pierre McGuire (NBC hockey analyst).

Those are the ones that have filtered out through various media outlets, including the team’s television rights-holder, although given the stealthy way the Habs do business - run silent, run deep - there may be more (Paul Fenton from Nashville?)

We already know that Jim Nill (Red Wings assistant GM), Pat Brisson (player agent) and Vincent Damphousse (former Habs captain) have ruled themselves out, this is where we find out if it was all just negotiating tactics (highly, highly doubtful). Others have been mooted as well: Blair Mackasey (director of player personnel in Minnesota), Doug Risebrough (former GM of the Flames), but the buzz around them has died down somewhat.

But what you really want to know is: who’s getting the gig?

Anyone who tells you they know for sure is lying, but with a little bit of deductive reasoning, it’s possible to narrow the field.

Habs president and owner Geoff Molson has been adamant that his top priority is finding a proven winner and to have someone come in who can ensure stability. Bilingualism is understood to be desirable, but not essential – Molson advisor Serge Savard said he couldn’t conceive of a unilingual GM, but has since softened his stance.

All of which explains why all the candidates on the short-list – which we’ll assume is exhaustive for the purposes of this discussion even though it almost certainly isn’t – are under 50 and three of the four are owners of at least one Stanley Cup ring.

The fourth, BriseBois, is the youngest at 35 years old, and as a lawyer and cap specialist is the most Moneyball-y of the choices.

But he’s also a guy who got his start in the Pierre Boivin/Bob Gainey regime, given both are gone and he’s won nothing in either the NHL or the American Hockey League (although the Norfolk Admirals, who he oversees, are a an AHL juggernaut this year), it’s a stretch to think he’ll be the guy this time around.

Likewise McGuire, 49, who was an assistant coach on Pittsburgh’s Cup winners in the early 1990s, is a long-shot given he hasn’t worked in hockey operations since 1997. He knows everyone in hockey and is a good friend of Molson’s, both are alums of St. Lawrence College and their sons played minor hockey together, but friendship isn’t a qualification.

Having Scotty Bowman suggest you should be the guy in print – as he has done in the Journal de Montreal – helps, but probably not enough.

So that leaves Bergevin and Giguere.

Bergevin, a 45-year-old who was an NHL defenceman for 20 years, is known for his vast network of contacts and McGuire-esque encyclopedic knowledge of players, but he’s only been an assistant GM for just over a year (he was a scout for their Cup-winning team), and as a legendary prankster and cut-up doesn’t fit the gray-suit-and-milky-tea idiom of the seventh floor at the Bell Centre.

Molson may decide he’s just the guy to shake up what is fast becoming a moribund organizational structure, but that kind of thinking is bolder than what the Canadiens have accustomed everyone to.

Giguere, 48, has previous experience as a GM and was running Colorado as recently as three years ago, plus he gets the Quebec hockey thing, having grown up at the knee, so to speak, of former Nordiques GM Pierre Lacroix (a contemporary of Savard).

And he’s the only candidate to refrain from speaking publicly throughout the search, although BriseBois has been almost as discreet since the job actually opened up.

Giguere, then, is the safe choice. He is also the logical one.

Unless they hire Luc Robitaille.

Or Dave Nonis.

Or Fenton.

Or ....

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