The Montreal Canadiens are a not your average hockey team. They may have played like that for too many years, but they are the gold standard for the sport of Hockey. They are akin to the NY Yankees in Baseball.
Winning, and winning it all is an expectation and always will be, even in years when it’s clear that they won’t.
That adds pressure, but it also adds prestige. Winning it all in Montreal is not the same as winning it all in any other NHL city.
That being said it takes a special type of person to be its General Manager, and even coach.
Sadly ownership over the last several decades have struggled. There have been glimpses of hope that have been dashed by politics, and cash. Montreal is a cash cow of a team as well. The Bell Centre earns lots of it.
Currently the team is owned by Geoff Molson who seemed to be “all in” in embracing the hype that has been Marc Bergevin, but sadly Bergevin has preformed like a mid level Rotisserie Hockey manager rather than a legendary franchise GM. Each and every transaction should reflect that.
In the age of the salary cap assent management is key to survival. Each draft pick has to be developed to its maximum. Looking back to the Pollock days, each transaction has to have a focus on the ultimate goal of winning Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Here’s a look at the transactions Mr. Bergevin has made since taking over in 2012.
April 2013 – 5th round pick #146 (Patrick Bartosak – Los Angeles) in 2013 previously re-acquired from Nashville traded to Los Angeles Kings for Davis Drewiske
February 2013 – Erik Cole traded to Dallas Stars for Michael Ryder and a 3rd round pick #71 (Connor Crisp) in 2013
February 14, 2013 – Cedrick Desjardins traded to Tampa Bay Lightning for Dustin Tokarski
January 14, 2013 – Brendon Nash traded to Florida Panthers for Jason DeSantis.
These are house cleaning trades. None advanced the team towards the cup.
Alex Galchenyuk was Mr. Bergevin’s 1st pick. He’s having a break through season after years of being forced to play wing instead of Centre. None of his other picks that year have panned out. (Collberg, Thrower, Bozon, Vail, Hudon, and Nystrom)
March 2014 – Sebastian Collberg and a 2nd round pick #57 (Johnathan MacLeod – Tampa Bay) in 2014 traded to New York Islanders for Thomas Vanek and a 5th round pick #125 (Nikolas Koberstein) in 2014. The draft picks were conditional on Montreal making the playoffs, which they did.
March 2014 – Future Considerations (TBD) traded to Nashville Predators for Devan Dubnyk
March 2014 – 5th round pick #147 (Ryan Pilon – New York Islanders) in 2015 traded to Florida Panthers for Mike Weaver
February 2014 – Steve Quailer traded to Los Angeles Kings for Robert Czarnik
February 2014 – Raphael Diaz traded to Vancouver Canucks for Dale Weise
July 2013 – Philippe Lefebvre and a 7th round pick #182 (Hugo Fagerblom) in 2014 previously acquired from Florida (June 30, 2013) traded to Florida Panthers for George Parros
July 2013 – Danny Kristo traded to New York Rangers for Christian Thomas
June 2013 – 7th round pick #206 (MacKenzie Weegar) in 2013 traded to Florida Panthers for a 7th round pick #182 (Hugo Fagerblom) in 2014
Again, none of these trades led towards Lord Stanley’s Cup. Most of the players were very short term rentals. The Vanek trade deserves some credit, but it was clearly a rental as well.
McCarron, De La Rose, Fucale, Lehkonen, Crisp, Andrighetto, Renway, Gregoire. Not the worst of drafts. McCarron is promising and what the Habs need. His development at Centre is strong. He may not be a 1st line centre, but he should have an impact. Fucale is playing in the AHL. No other real impact players selected.
March 2015 – Jack Nevins and a 7th round pick in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Torrey Mitchell
March 2015 – 5th round pick in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Brian Flynn
March 2015 – 2nd round pick #57 (Jonas Siegenthaler – Washington via New York Rangers) in 2015 and a 4th round pick #117 (Caleb Jones) in 2015 traded to Edmonton Oilers for Jeff Petry. There was a condition that if Montreal won one round in the 2014-15 playoffs, the 5th would become a 4th round pick (triggered), two rounds and it would become a 3rd round pick.
February 2015 – Jiri Sekac traded to Anaheim Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly
November 2014 – Rene Bourque traded to Anaheim Ducks for Bryan Allen
November 2014 – Travis Moen traded to Dallas Stars for Sergei Gonchar
October 2014 – Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland traded to Winnipeg Jets for Eric Tangradi
July 2014 – Josh Gorges traded to Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round pick in 2016 previously acquired from Minnesota
June 2014 – Daniel Briere traded to Colorado Avalanche for Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and a 5th round pick #131 (Matthew Bradley) in 2015
June 2014 – 3nd round pick #87 (Anton Karlsson) in 2014 and a 4th round pick #117 (Michael Bunting) in 2014 traded to Arizona Coyotes for 3rd round pick #73 (Brett Lernout) in 2014
June 2014 – Louis Leblanc traded to Anaheim Ducks for conditional 5th round pick #148 (Troy Terry – Anaheim) in 2015. Condition was on Leblanc playing 15 games for Anaheim in 2014-15 which he failed to do, so the 5th round pick reverted to Anaheim.
Not one of these moves were focused on the major needs of the team. There was some clever trades, but they didn’t really help the team. Acquiring bad players from bad teams doesn’t lead to character or winning, does it?
Scherbak, Lernout, Koberstein, Audette, Hawkey, Evans. Montreal had no 2nd or 4th round picks. Sherbak has put up 21 points in 41 games in the AHL, Lernout is a player I like and showing some grit. Could be as high as a 3 or 4 Dman. Audette has had another good year in the Q.
February 2016 – Devante Smith-Pelly traded to New Jersey Devils for Stefan Matteau
February 2016 – Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann traded to Chicago Blackhawks for Phillip Danault and a 2nd round pick in 2018
January 2016 – Jarred Tinordi and Stefan Fournier traded to Arizona Coyotes for Victor Bartley and John Scott
January 2016 – Dustin Tokarski traded to Anaheim Ducks for Max Friberg
December 2015 – Zack Kassian traded to Edmonton Oilers for Ben Scrivens
December 2015 – Christian Thomas traded to Arizona Coyotes for Lucas Lessio
July 2015 – Brandon Prust traded to Vancouver Canucks for Zack Kassian and a 5th round pick in 2016
This collection in most other cities would be grounds for termination alone. While there’s a strategy in keeping injury information close to the vest Mr. Bergevin should have been fully aware of Carey Price’s injury. Ben Scrivens wasn’t anyone’s answer to saving a team’s season. Likewise giving up on Kassian after trading a popular player to save some cap dollars in a season that has turned out to be going nowhere equals a bag o pucks.
After the start the team had simply playing .500 hockey the rest of the season would have had the team in the play offs. Even with the injury to Carey Price there was enough talent on this squad that there was no reason for the historic failure of the squad. Mike Condon wasn’t playing that badly. The team needed to shore up the offense to take some of the pressure off of him and there were lots of much better trade options than Ben Scrivens, and even Scrivens came far too late to really help.
Jarred Tinordi was a botched 1st round draft pick and picks ups like Matteau and Danault hark back to the Rejean Houle era.
Bergy’s best Free Agent signing was re upping Pacioretty for $4.5 per. His other deals have been at inflated prices and of course there’s the PK Subban issue which may or may not fully be his own fault.
Alex Galchenyuk may now be about to put the Habs in the same situation as Subban with a penny wise pound foolish bridge contract as the young centre finally can’t be held back. The wing/centre bizarre controversy, especially once it became apparent that this season was toast is also confusing as Galchenyuk should be the team’s #1 centre finishing the season to see if he’s a yes or no for next year.
Noah Juulsen, Vejdemo, Bradley, Bourque, and Addison. Montreal had no 2 or 4th round picks again.
Juulsen took a huge step back in the WHL dropping from 52 to 28 points in nearly the same amount of games. Bourque has shown some improvement in the Q. Addison has also improved with the Ottawa 67’s.
In summary, in his fourth season Marc Bergevin is still depending on key talent from the team’s former management.
He has not managed or developed key talent fully. He’s shown more loyalty to coach Michel Therrien than to some of his star players.
Media reports are not exposing issues within the dressing room which if true lie at the feet of Bergevin & Therrien. As little as trickling out usually means that it’s the tip of the ice berg. Whether it’s the losing that’s causing a division of the room or a division that’s causing the losing, the buck stops at Bergevin, and Therrien.
Mr. Bergevin has not been able to address or acquire key talent to fill the team’s major holes.
He has not been successful in drafting talent to develop the team nor in filling holes via free agency.
He has not addressed character which he has focused on, bringing in players from teams with losing cultures like the disasters that were in Buffalo and still in Edmonton.
But mostly at the end of the day he simply has not won. What he has won were on the merits of past managements.
Geoff Molson has a serious issue that clearly has one clear answer as the team does have some solid building blocks.
Hab fans give him the dollars to eat bad management contracts and play up to cap limits.
Montreal does not require a blow up like Toronto. It does require a management team that understands how Montreal works and has the potential, if not the ability to be able to get the team back to its rightful place in the NHL.
Excuses are for losers, and you sell a lot more beer when the team is winning.
What do you think Hab fans? You can post your comments below.