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Jeff Gorton: the leader the Canadiens need

Last night, when the Habs presented a behind-the-scenes look at their draft, we got to see them from a different angle. After all, we’re not used to being behind the curtain.

It makes things even more interesting.

We’ve seen the Jacob Fowler debates… we’ve seen the interview process… we’ve seen how scouts talk to each other when it comes to debating certain players.

But above all, we saw how the CH came to choose David Reinbacher.

Of course, the fact that Reinbacher is one of the Habs’ top picks means that the club has published glowing excerpts about him. That said, he was drafted precisely because of the glowing reviews he received.

You could really feel that the scouts liked him… but more importantly, that they liked his profile.

I think it’s hard to find an asset like that with his height and right-handed stick.

When you look back at all the teams that have won the Stanley Cup, they all have that impact defender. – Christer Rockstrom, head scout in Europe

This isn’t the first time we’ve had the feeling that the CH may have drafted Reinbacher because they wanted to add a big, right-handed defenseman to their roster.

Whether it’s Martin St-Louis telling Reinbacher he’s “exactly what the club needs” or Kent Hughes saying he’d be less attractive if he were a left-hander, you have to wonder.

I’m not worried about this because Reinbacher was the player I targeted at #5. That said, I understand that a lot of people who wanted a striker aren’t the happiest in the world.

We’ll see what happens in a few years’ time.

All this to say that, yes, Reinbacher was selected, but in the end, there were still discussions about other guys. That’s perfectly normal in a draft.

And what I like is the way the whole thing was presented.

As we said yesterday, the CH is clearly letting us think that it’s between Matvei Michkov and David Reinbacher. Maybe Ryan Leonard got in on the act, but hey.

And Jeff Gorton seemed to be in the camp of those who really wanted to evaluate Michkov’s candidacy. I’m not going to say that he wanted to draft him, because there’s no way of knowing, but my little voice in my head tells me that the VP might have wanted to pick the Russian.

The isolated 30-second clip above is important. After all, it’s clear that the Habs VP wanted to make sure that, despite his men’s desire to go for Reinbacher, it was the right thing to do.

This was just a few days before the draft.

When you pick fifth… there are always only a few ways to add talent. It’s tough. You can’t go in through the free agents without giving too much money to an older player.

You have to draft or get lucky to get big talent. Sometimes you take chances. It seems like people here have decided not to try [that], but I want to make sure we make the right decision. – Jeff Gorton

What I notice in all this is that Gorton clearly seems to be running the show. When there was a moment of silence, it was he who spoke up to direct the conversations. We saw him speak more in meetings than Kent Hughes.

He was also seen massaging a scout to lighten the mood.

What I’m trying to say is that Gorton really looks like a man who runs the club. You’d think so, since the VP, who looks like a president, was hired before Kent Hughes, but he’s taking up space.

Mind you, I’m not saying Hughes is a puppet – quite the contrary. He would never have left his agency to take on such a role, and I think he’s doing, from an outsider’s point of view, exactly what he needs to do. What I am saying is that Gorton looks in charge.

And what I find interesting is that the VP pushed hard for “the talented player who isn’t named” and who we’ll call Michkov for the sake of it, but that he listened to his trusted men.

I wonder what would have happened if Daniel Brière had been named CH DG instead of Hughes. Remember that Brière drafted Michkov two spots later as GM of the Philadelphia Flyers.


Having a boss who delegates – especially to Hughes – is important. He has experience to spare, and he seems to be doing a good job in his current role. That’s good for the Habs.

Now all he has to do is bring home the Stanley Cup and learn French, I guess?

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