(Reuters) - The Montreal Canadiens named Marc Bergevin as their new general manager on Wednesday, handing him the challenge of restoring one of the National Hockey League’s (NHL) most storied franchises to its former glory.
The former Chicago Blackhawks assistant GM replaces Pierre Gauthier, who was fired in March after Montreal finished dead last in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Bergevin, a Montreal native and former defenseman who played 20 seasons in the NHL, joined the Blackhawks front office when his playing career was over and quickly developed a reputation as an astute scout and talent evaluator.
His hiring is the start of a rebuilding process for the Canadiens, who must still decide on the future of interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
The English-speaking Cunneyworth, who was named to the job last December by Gauthier, touched off a firestorm in Montreal among the team’s many French-speaking fans because he did not speak Quebec’s official language.
The Canadiens have won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times but not since 1993.
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Frank Pingue