Larry Carrière has ended his association with the Montreal Canadiens after 10 years, which saw him take on many different roles in the hockey operations department.
Carrière was initially hired by general manager Pierre Gauthier in July, 2010 to replace Julien BriseBois as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. Although Carrière had the experience to replace the “eye for hockey” duties that BriseBois possessed, the deeper understanding of the salary cap and other clerical duties that BriseBois performed were split off and taken on Patrick Boivin, son of team president Pierre Boivin. Gauthier said at the time that Carrière “brings with him a tremendous amount of experience.” (La Presse, Sep. 14, 2010)
Prior to joining the Canadiens, Carrière spent six seasons as a professional scout for the Washington Capitals, and before that 20 years climbing in hockey operations with the Buffalo Sabres after a seven-year career as a player.
He quickly saw his duties change when head coach Jacques Martin was fired in December, 2011 by Gauthier. Carrière was given the responsibility of assistant coach to new bench boss Randy Cunneyworth, even though he had absolutely no previous coaching experience. As a result, Carrière stayed in the press box for the first few weeks in order to ease himself into the role.
“My role is to work with the players, improve their development, and to work with the coaching staff to ensure that we’re winning games,” said Carrière to La Presse (Dec. 29, 2011). “We have one objective: win games.” But there was another, more surreptitious reason for this promotion: Carrière would be the only french-speaking coach on staff, as Cunneyworth and his assistant, Randy Ladouceur, were anglophones, and very poorly received by a portion of the Montreal media and fanbase.
On rare occasions, Carrière would give soundbytes to the francophone media, although, generally speaking, Gauthier imposed a strict gag order on everyone in the organization. In the locker room, Carrière was viewed as a mole who reported back to Gauthier, side-stepping Cunneyworth. It was a toxic no-win situation for everyone.
In March of 2012, new team president Geoff Molson fired Gauthier, and placed Carrière in an Interim GM role where he would look after the day-to-day aspects of hockey operations, seconded by Serge Savard who was brought into the organization as a consultant. It was while in this caretaker role that Carrière stickhandled early contract negotiations with Carey Price, the team’s most important pending free agent, and represented the Canadiens at the 2012 NHL Draft Lottery.
When Marc Bergevin was hired as general manager, he kept Carrière and made him part of his inner circle along with Rick Dudley and Scott Mellanby as assistant general managers.
“You’re talking about an experienced guy who knows all the players in the NHL,” said Bergevin to La Presse at the time. “There is a lot of work that needs to be done here.” (La Presse, May 2, 2012)
As a first act, Carrière was an integral part in the decision to hire Michel Therrien as the next head coach, and draft Alex Galchenyuk third overall in the entry draft.
Carrière continued to work at the highest levels of hockey operations, notably being first line in contract talks with P.K. Subban’s agent, Don Meehan, during the 2013-14 season.
When it came time to move the farm team from St. John’s to Laval, Carrière was assigned the duties of caretaker for the fledgling franchise, adding the title of Laval Rocket General Manager to his resume. He was already doing some equivalent work the previous season with the IceCaps, but it was made official at the start of 2017-18. There were going to be a lot more eyes on the product with the proximity to Montreal, and the organization knew it.
“The people will know the players and the coaches a lot better now,” said Carrière to La Presse (Jul 1, 2017). “Our goal is to present the development of the players through each stage. That’s what will happen in Laval.”
That role, however, only lasted one year. When Joël Bouchard was hired to coach the Rocket in 2018, Carrière stepped down from the general manager role, and took on the role of director of player personnel for the AHL team, responsible for scouting the AHL and ECHL for players.
“Last year was the first year in Laval [after the AHL franchise moved from St. John’s] and we felt that it was important to have somebody on site because there were a lot of new issues with a new team and we weren’t sure,” said Bergevin to the Montreal Gazette.
Carrière’s previous role as Canadiens assistant general manager was handed to Trevor Timmins. Carrière retained a role as senior advisor to hockey operations, but it became evident that he was being slowly phased out of the organizational structure. Even so, his impact on the Rocket was enormous in new AHL role, as the quality of backfill from the ECHL to replace injured or recalled players on the Rocket roster improved dramatically. The Rocket remained competitive despite some challenging times when they called on numerous players on tryout contracts.
At the conclusion of the 2019-20 season, Carrière quietly ran out his contract and left the organization after 10 years of service. He told Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette that he is currently exploring his options.