“Montreal is a tough market,” the Canadiens coaching icon said Tuesday from his home in Florida. “The history of the team follows you. You can’t change the fact you’ve won the Stanley Cup 24 times. And it’s a different city because the team has to work in French and English. But in today’s NHL, with the [NHL] salary cap, running that team — any team — is an awfully big job for one person. I can see how you need to break up the work for a group.”On Sunday, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson fired Marc Bergevin, the general manager since the 2012-13 season, and hired Jeff Gorton as executive vice president of hockey operations. Trevor Timmins, an assistant GM, and Paul Wilson, senior vice president for public affairs and communications, also were fired Sunday. Assistant GM Scott Mellanby had resigned a day earlier.Molson said Monday that Montreal has begun a search to hire a general manager and that Gorton and the new GM, leading “a fresh start,” in the owner’s words, will be expected to share a workload that at times seemed largely Bergevin’s to handle alone during his nine seasons in the job.”Geoff Molson is a very active owner. He’s not a figurehead,” Bowman said. “He’s got people running the other businesses [of Groupe CH], but he’s very involved with the Canadiens. That’s his job. Even when they hire a new GM, unless they add other people, they’ll still be down one — Gorton and a GM in, with Bergevin, Timmins and Mellanby gone.”Bowman said he sees nothing unusual about a team’s hockey operations being run almost by committee. In 1994-95, following his first season coaching the Detroit Red Wings, a front-office shuffle resulted in Bowman, Jim Devellano, Ken Holland and Jim Nill being put in charge of hockey operations. That set the Red Wings on their path to consecutive championships in 1997 and 1998. Sam Pollock (left), the winningest general manager in NHL history, and his Canadiens predecessor, Frank J. Selke Sr., presenting Bob Gainey with the inaugural Frank J. Selke Trophy as the League’s top defensive forward in 1981.And he reflected on the two most successful general managers in Canadiens history, Sam Pollock and Frank J. Selke Sr. before him, having leaned heavily on various people to make their decisions.Montreal’s hockey landscape has changed a great deal since Bowman coached at the minor and junior levels in 1950s and ’60s, then beat the bushes as a scout for the Canadiens before coaching the team through its glorious 1970s, when the Hall of Famer guided them to five Cup championships.But Bowman, who grew up 15 minutes from the Montreal Forum, still has a well-tuned sense of the Canadiens’ place in the game and their community. It’s been with considerable interest, then, that he’s watched the struggles of the Canadiens (6-16-2) this season and the front-office upheaval this week.Bowman, who has the most wins (1,244) in NHL history and won nine Stanley Cup championships — one more than his idol, Toe Blake — lays claim to having coached four of Montreal’s six most recent general managers: Serge Savard, Rejean Houle and Bob Gainey with the Canadiens, and Andre Savard with the Buffalo Sabres. Pierre Gauthier and Bergevin followed those four into the Canadiens front office.The next GM will be the Canadiens’ 18th since their birth in 1909, seven having won the Stanley Cup with them.Selke and Pollock, two late legends, are atop the pantheon of Canadiens general managers. Montreal’s most accomplished and longest-serving GMs each had a profound impact on Bowman, in different ways. Canadiens general manager Frank J. Selke Sr. watches forward Elmer Lach sign a contract in Selke’s Montreal Forum office in the early 1950s.Bowman was a 12-year-old schoolboy in the Montreal district of Verdun when Selke took the general manager’s reins in 1946; the latter followed Tommy Gorman, whose Canadiens had won the Stanley Cup twice (1944, 1946) during his wartime tenure from 1940-46.Selke’s teams would win the championship six times in the six-team NHL during his tenure through the end of 1963-64: in 1953, and the historic sweep of five straight from 1956-60, missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs once in his 18 seasons.Selke relied heavily on vice president Ken Reardon and a young Pollock, who was running the Canadiens farm system and junior interests, in his decision making.”Sam was a big man in Mr. Selke’s hockey department,” Bowman said. “He was ready to be an NHL GM from the mid-1950s.”When Bowman began as Montreal’s scout for eastern Canada in 1961, Selke advised him not to overlook smaller players purely because of their size; he cited Henri Richard, a 5-foot-7 forward who had arrived with the Canadiens in 1955 to begin an NHL career that saw him win a League-record 11 championships.Bowman had worked a few years earlier under Pollock, who would succeed Selke with the Canadiens. Bowman coached Hull-Ottawa, an independent junior team that was managed by Pollock and that won the Memorial Cup in 1958. The 1957-58 Memorial Cup champion Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, managed by Sam Pollock (front row, third from left) and coached by Scotty Bowman (front row, third from right).One of the sharpest minds ever in NHL management, Pollock is the League’s most successful GM, winning the Stanley Cup nine times in 14 seasons from 1964-78: 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1973 and 1976-78, the last four with Bowman as coach.Pollock’s Canadiens missed the playoffs only once, his career highlighted by his brilliant drafting and trading and his construction of a farm system that was second to none, ultimately a template for his competitors.And with Pollock as his boss in Montreal, Bowman was very much a part of hockey operations.”Sam ran it by committee,” Bowman said. “He trusted the word of myself; Al MacNeil, who was coaching our [American Hockey League] team; head scout Ron Caron; and scout Claude Ruel. Anytime there was a trade or he was thinking of drafting a player, he’d gather the four of us and go through the whole thing. If you didn’t like something and you spoke up, which he wanted us all to do, then he wouldn’t do it.”Bowman said he expects the Canadiens to go forward a bit by committee with Gorton leading the group, as it did in a different time under Pollock.”Sam wanted input from everybody,” Bowman said. “He was not a one-man gang. Sometimes we had heated discussions, but that’s the way he wanted it. And I think that Jeff Gorton will work the same way now with the people he’ll have around him. There’ll be plenty of work to go around.”Photos: Hockey 911; Hockey Hall of FameChicago Blackhawks drakter

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