Where the Canadiens should turn now

Updated: March 29, 2012, 6:18 PM ET
By Craig Custance

This is about more than just one hire. It's about assembling a team of hockey minds in Montreal that can return the Canadiens back among the league's elite -- a task bigger than any one person.

On Thursday morning, the Canadiens announced the news that GM Pierre Gauthier and special adviser Bob Gainey are out. A dramatic change to the Montreal front office comes with five games remaining in the season and the Canadiens sitting dead last in a mediocre Eastern Conference.

The team is in the draft lottery, making June's draft the most important in years for the Canadiens, so there's no time to wait to prepare -- an urgency that's apparently been grasped in Montreal.

Next, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson should take a page from the Jeff Vinik playbook. Vinik didn't just make one hire to lift the Lightning out of the Eastern Conference basement. He assembled a new brain trust. He lured Steve Yzerman from Detroit, another franchise that understands the importance of a deep front office. He hired highly respected CEO Tod Leiweke. Yzerman brought aboard assistant GM Julien BriseBois, director of player personnel Pat Verbeek and director of amateur scouting Al Murray. That's not even mentioning the smart hire of Guy Boucher, the kind of charismatic coach that a market like Montreal would embrace.

That's where I'd start if I were Molson -- with a call to Yzerman to get permission to interview BriseBois for GM.