Habs GM Hughes introduced in Montreal, excited to build franchise in hometown
Former sports agent confident in scouting, player development background
On a stage laid out directly onto the Bell Centre ice, the Montreal Canadiens introduced newly hired general manager Kent Hughes on Wednesday afternoon.
The Beaconsfield, Que. native signed a five-year deal to team up with executive vice president of hockey operations Jeff Gorton and become the 18th GM in Habs history. The former sports agent is leaving behind his firm Quartexx Management, which he joined in 2016, to help end the struggles of his hometown hockey team and build a winner.
"In the past, Jeff and I spoke about the possibility of joining the New York Rangers but those discussions didn't last very long," said Hughes, referring to Gorton's past role as GM of the Broadway Blueshirts. "I still had work to do in the sports agent world but this time it was Montreal. It's the city I grew up in and it's the most decorated franchise in hockey history."
"He called me to discuss the decision and told me: `Kent, there's the New York Yankees, there's the Dallas Cowboys and there's the Montreal Canadiens. You have no decision to make,"' Hughes said.
Both Gorton and Hughes lived in Boston for extended periods of time. Gorton, a Massachusetts native, rose through the ranks in the Bruins front office. After studying in the United States, Hughes stayed in Beantown to further his agent career. They were introduced to each other when negotiating Patrice Bergeron's entry-level contract with the Bruins.
Patrice Bergeron on agent Kent Hughes being named Montreal Canadiens GM: "Very well deserved, Super happy for him. He's been w/me since the beginning, so sad to see him go as my agent, but still gonna be a friend & wish him all the best. Super smart hockey mind & loves the game"—@HackswithHaggs
However, Gorton was steadfast in saying that the Canadiens didn't choose Hughes because of their relationship.
"No offence but Kent is not my best friend," Gorton said. "I just admired him as a hockey person."
Canadiens president and CEO Geoff Molson added that the hiring process, which also included former captain and GM Bob Gainey and minority owner Micheal Andlauer, didn't have a favourite from the start.
"Jeff and I spoke on Sunday morning. I spoke first to give my preference for Kent and he had the same so we went back to the committee and we were all aligned," Molson said.
"Of course I know what a player and an agent thinks and that will be an advantage for us," Hughes said. "But it's more about my hockey side. I spent a lot of time scouting, working on hockey skills, and determining how we can help a player develop."
"If a player doesn't perform, I want to understand why they're not performing."
Bienvenue à la maison, Kent.<br><br>Welcome home, Kent. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHabsGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHabsGo</a> <a href="https://t.co/tEkRAaaVOA">pic.twitter.com/tEkRAaaVOA</a>—@CanadiensMTL
Hughes will fly to Las Vegas to follow the team in the next few days. He also hopes to sit down with head coach Dominique Ducharme as they figure out the future of the team.
"I certainly have beliefs about what a modern day coach should be or have in terms of qualities," Hughes said. "I'm anxious to speak to Dom and learn more about him and ultimately we'll see where things take us from that."
"We talked to some very impressive people and learned a lot about their thoughts on our team, about player development, analytics and team building," Gorton said. "It's been a really eye opening and enlightening experience and I think it's going to help us move forward."
Geoff Molson, Kent Hughes et Jeff Gorton s'adressent aux médias en direct du Centre Bell.<br><br>Geoff Molson, Kent Hughes and Jeff Gorton are addressing the media live from the Bell Centre.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoHabsGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoHabsGo</a> <a href="https://t.co/f01JsZVF28">https://t.co/f01JsZVF28</a>—@CanadiensMTL
Martin Lapointe took over the amateur scouting roles left by Timmins, and Gorton said he is "very comfortable" with Lapointe as a hockey evaluator but he would still like to "build into that department."