Future dismissal of Kent Hughes: the GM is not afraid

He has accepted the challenge of rebuilding the Canadiens and although he realizes the plan might not work, he is confident that he will succeed and not panic.

Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes took media questions for more than 20 minutes Friday in Brossard after the NHL trade deadline closed at 3 p.m.

He gave an answer that highlights why he’s the right man to put the pieces together during this team’s rebuild, and it wasn’t about his decision to trade guard Jake Allen to the New Jersey Devils or retain veteran defenseman David Savard.

When reporters asked Hughes how much patience he had shown since taking office two years ago, he responded:

“Look, I’m looking forward to the day when we buy, instead of sell. I’m as competitive as anyone. I want to feel the highs and lows of winning and losing that come when you’re supposed to compete for a Stanley Cup. So the sooner that happens , better”.

“I’d love to be there for that. But I don’t want to do it at the expense of doing it the right way and I think that’s how we all feel as a management group and as an organization.”

The words that impacted the media were: “I wish I was there for that.”

Rebuilding a team in the 32-team NHL, with a salary cap, is no easy task; just ask fans of the Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabers and Edmonton Oilers.

Hughes’ rebuilding plan might not work, and he knows it. But he has a solid plan in place, with Jeff Gorton, executive vice president of hockey operations, and he believes it will work.

If it doesn’t work, Hughes will end up being fired. But he is not afraid of that and he will not make panic moves to save his position.

Hughes doesn’t need this job. He has been a very successful player agent and doesn’t need the money. But he accepted the challenge that comes with being the Canadiens’ general manager.

“Why not take on the biggest challenge here, and this is my home?”said Hughes, who grew up on Montreal’s West Island, during an interview with the English-language press a few months after Gorton hired him as GM.

Hughes had another interesting quote from this interview when he talked about his days coaching youth hockey (including his sons Riley and Jack) with the Boston Junior Eagles.

“When I started coaching kids, every time we had an important game, I told them that we weren’t afraid of failure.”declared.

“We don’t worry about failure. We can win or lose the game; if we knew before we were going to win, we wouldn’t want to play. If we knew before we were going to lose, we probably would want to play.” play even less. It is the unknown, the unknown outcome and the ability to influence that outcome that motivated me.”

It always motivates him.

The Canadiens’ Mike Matheson also grew up on Montreal’s West Island and has known Hughes for a long time.

Hughes was previously Matheson’s agent and negotiated the eight-year, $39 million contract extension the defenseman signed with the Florida Panthers in 2017. Matheson, 30, has two seasons remaining under that contract.

“I think he stays true to what he believes in and doesn’t make decisions for selfish reasons, no matter what.” Matheson said after Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Center when asked what Hughes was doing as general manager.

“He really makes all the decisions that will be best for the team.”

Hughes is still stuck with some tough contracts from Marc Bergevin’s days as general manager. Brendan Gallagher has three seasons left on a $6.5 million cap hit.

Josh Anderson has three seasons left for $5.5 million. Christian Dvorak has one more season with $4.45 million and Joel Armia has one more season with $3.4 million.

Fortunately, Hughes is no longer stuck with Carey Price’s contract (two more seasons for $10.5 million, who is now on long-term injured reserve) or Shea Weber’s contract (two more seasons for $7.857 million of dollars that Hughes traded to the Vegas Golden Knights, who then traded to the Arizona Coyotes (the graveyard of bad contracts).

Hughes now has a group of core players aged 24 and under, including forwards Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield, Alex Newhook, Kirby Dach, Joshua Roy and Juraj Slafkovsky, defenders Kaiden Guhle, Jayden Struble, Arber Xhekaj and Jordan Harris, and goalie Cayden Primeau. .

The most impressive thing about the team this season has been the consistent level of competitiveness, which was demonstrated again Saturday against the Leafs.

“I think there’s still a good mix of young guys who continue to grow and some older guys who still have a lot of game left in them and who can help with that growth.”Matheson said.

“I think both plays are equally important. I think the character in the play, which everyone continues to present every night, is a good sign.”

There are signs that this rebuild could work, but there are no guarantees.

However, Kent Hughes has shown that he is not afraid of being fired. In his head, he is the right man to lead CH to the Stanley Cup.

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