Montreal Canadiens: The Only Three General Manager Candidates That Make Any Sense

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24 Mar 1997: Goaltender Jocelyn Thibault of the Montreal Canadiens. Mandatory Credit: Robert Laberge /Allsport

Jocelyn Thibault

Jocelyn Thibault has risen into Montreal once before amid chaos and tried to steady the ship.

Back then, he was just a young goaltender trying to prove himself at the NHL level, while dealing with the pressure of being Patrick Roy’s replacement. Now, with Roy advocating for himself to get the general manager job in Montreal, could the team go with Thibault over Roy once again?

Thibault has some credentials for sure, but at the Junior level. He is the owner of the Sherbrooke Phoenix of the QMJHL and he took over as the team’s general manager midway through the 2015-16 season. The Phoenix struggled again the following year, but Thibault’s slowly built them into a league powerhouse. The Phoenix were middle of the pack and won a playoff series in 2018 and 2019, but they were set up for a huge run in the 2020 postseason.

Unfortunately, Covid-19 derailed a season that saw Thibault’s Phoenix sitting atop the league with a 51-8-4 record late in the regular season.

After a stop and go 2020-21 season in the QMJHL thanks to the global pandemic, Thibault retooled the Phoenix and they are once again among the favourites to go on a deep run in the QMJHL. One of his best moves was picking up Canadiens prospect Joshua Roy in a trade with the Saint John Sea Dogs. The 18 year old Roy is leading the league in scoring and just earned an invitation to Canada’s World Junior camp.

The 46 year old former Habs goaltender would be new to the front office challenges of an NHL team. However, the Habs management structure with Jeff Gorton at the top would allow for the grooming of a younger general manager who doesn’t need to take on too much all by himself immediately.

Thibault has recently taken a job with Hockey Quebec as their executive director, while stepping aside from general manager duties with the Phoenix. Still, if the Montreal Canadiens come calling, anybody would be willing to lend an ear.

Thibault once took over a nearly impossible role in Montreal so he would be as familiar with the pressure as any first time general manager. He has experience building a team from scratch albeit in the Juniors and he would have Gorton to mentor him from above. Hiring Thibault makes a lot of sense.

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