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Jeff Gorton says Kent Hughes is “fiercely stubborn”.

Jeff Gorton says Kent Hughes is “fiercely stubborn”.

Out of the boxAs you may recall, this is the English expression that Jeff Gorton used, during his first press conference in Montreal, to say that he could go off the beaten track to find his general manager. Without saying that he would go in this direction, he wanted to keep all doors open.

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“I wasn’t thinking about Kent [Hughes] And to Marty [Martin Saint-Louis] When I said that, Gorton explains today.

“But I definitely wanted to look at every possible avenue.” The name Kent came to mind two weeks after I took office. He had some experience in the hockey world as an agent.

“He burst out laughing when I called him to ask if he would consider the idea of ​​becoming general manager of the Canadiens.

“I don’t think he thought about that possibility at all. He had his business representing athletes and he enjoyed that field.”

Jeff Molson’s surprise call

Gorton was just as surprised as Hughes when he got the call from Jeff Molson. He then served as a commentator for the National League Television Network.

“I was having dinner with my wife when a number from Montreal appeared on my phone screen,” he says.

“I wondered who could have called me from Montreal at that time [alors qu’il n’était plus DG dans la LNH]. Not wanting to offend my wife, I waited until I got home to look at the phone number book reserved for the league’s general managers.

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“I was overcome with a strange feeling. When I saw it was Jeff Molson, I wondered what he could possibly want from me. And the rest is history.”

A kind of great intelligence

Canadiens owner contacted Gorton at Gary Bettman’s suggestion. In the case of Hughes, everyone concluded that he was close to Gorton.

“People said we were friends, but that wasn’t the truth,” Gorton says.

“People also said we had properties on Cape Cod, but we didn’t live near each other. I’d never seen Kent’s house. In fact, I didn’t spend much time with him in person. Most of the time we talked on the phone.”

He was the first to negotiate contracts for Hughes’ clients, first with the Bruins, then with the Rangers. But the rest of the discussions mostly revolved around hockey.

“Kent is very smart, and he has a really different vision than most people in hockey,” Gorton confirms.

“He has his own way of talking about player development. He doesn’t just stick to the X and O on the board.

“When he was an agent, he was always arguing about what his clients and other players could achieve if teams helped them a little more and were talked to in the right way,” he continued with his opinions.

“He’s stubborn as hell!”

On opposite sides

This is a side of Hughes’s personality that we have just been introduced to. You won’t say it in order to see and hear it. But you have to remember that he was an agent, which is a compromising role.

“We’re on opposite sides on a lot of things,” Gorton says.

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“Kent likes to argue. He’ll talk all evening! If you tell him the salary cap is 83 million, he’ll say that’s not true, taking into account long-term injuries and other factors.

“It’s never a yes with him.”

– In short, he always wants to have the last word, doesn’t he, Jeff?

“Oh yeah, he likes that!” Gorton answers.

“That’s about it. We’re not the same, but we complement each other well,” Gorton concludes.

We call it a clash of ideas, and that’s a good thing, as experienced managers will say. You must have guessed that in this context, the two men never fail to tease each other.

At last year’s Canadian Golf Championship, this writer heard Gorton make a joke to Hughes about his exposed skull. The response did not take long.

“And you dye your hair!” » Hughes told him.

– Is that true, Jeff?

“No, no,” he answers forcefully.

“But if you look closely, you’ll see that I have gray hair here and there. It’s been starting since I got here.”

That’s for sure!