Five-time Stanley Cup winner Bob Gainey has stepped down as General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens as his contact has expired.
The Ontario native has handed over the reigns to his right-hand man Pierre Gauthier who has been behind Gainey for six years, and previously worked for The Ducks and The Senators. Gainey was criticized for bringing huge changes to Montreal’s roster in July as he brought in Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta at the expense of Saku Koivu, Alex Kovalev and Mike Komisarek. But his decision to step down is entirely personal.
“I’ve done my best and now it’s time for me to pass the torch,” Gainey said in his press conference yesterday.
Gainey is expected to stay on as an advisor for Gauthier who is immediately under pressure to tie up contacts for Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak and Tomas Plekanec as the trade deadline looms closer.
The Canadiens’ hierarchy are often criticized for failing to look outside of their organization for talent. However, Gauthier clearly has enough experience to handle the job. While at Ottawa as General Manager he helped bring in a lot of key names such as Mike Fisher and Marian Hossa. He also helped build the Stanley Cup winning team in Anaheim.
Although Gainey’s contract is up, it still seems a strange time to leave. The Habs are pushing for a playoff spot and could do with some stability. The Olympics start next week and the Habs have a busy week ahead which sees them face the unstoppable Washington Capitals and two games against the Philadelphia Flyers. Surely it would have been best to get through an important week before ringing the changes.
As well as captaining the Habs for eight years, Gainey spent time as head coach including a disastrous spell at the end of last season after his former team-mate Guy Carbonneau was sacked. Gainey will be missed by the Habs but will be remembered more fondly as a player rather than as a General Manager.
As GM of the Habs, Gainey didn’t come close to bringing home the Stanley Cup but was passionate about trying to build a team that could challenge the best. His hard work may pay off in the future, but it doesn’t look promising.
At the moment it doesn’t look like the Habs will be challenging for the Stanley Cup for a while, but maybe it will do the club good to cut their ties with their illustrious past and finally look to the future.