Bergevin’s Failure & More on SUBBAN, Therrien & Muller by Jamie Gilcig JULY 6, 2016

Alas Montreal fans have been rending their garments since the loss of the much beloved PK Subban.   For a 2nd round draft pick PK did well.  He won a Norris, excelled when it counted, the play offs, and entertained the fans.

Sadly, Montreal being Montreal, language politics impact all facets of life and the Habs are not immune.

Would PK be off the team if his last name was …..Tremblay, or Believeau, or Rousseau?      Would Michel Therrien still be coach if his last name was Cunneyworth?

There are many challenges that face owning the Montreal Canadiens.     Language is one of them.  There is an old tradition that goes back to the merging of the Maroons, that the team would alternate the coaching and GM positions linguistically.   That can be challenging.

Marc Bergevin does not have a historic tradition with the club.    He played for other teams and earned his chance to be GM with the Black Hawks.

His squad had an historically bad season and he himself has a new five year contract.

In most sports he would have been fired for this past season.  Not just for the historic failure of the team, but for his seriously flawed loyalty to his coach and for fire saling PK Subban, the team’s best player by far.

Yes, PK was the team’s best player.   Carey Price was not and neither was Max Pacioretty.       Price has never really improved in the play offs and has never carried the team.   Carey is a great goalie, but over all he wasn’t better than PK Subban.   His contract is up in two seasons and he will be demanding a salary that most likely not make sense for Montreal to extend.    His injury history is also cause for concern as goalie’s really need their knees.

Max Pacioretty’s goal counts have dropped over the last few seasons.  He’s still a great player.  He is not more valuable than PK Subban.

PK Subban’s shooting percentage for his NHL career goes up from 5.8% to 7.5 for the play offs.   He had just signed a new contract that while expensive, took him through what should be his most productive years.

The failure of Marc Bergevin wasn’t so much trading PK, but how he traded him.  Contrary to public statements it wasn’t a secret that Montreal was ready to move Subban.  That alone hurt his value.  If anything Bergy should have earned a premium for trading a franchise player.

You don’t trade franchise players unless there’s a really big issue.  PK was not Evander Kane.  He showed up and he put numbers up on the board.   He’s a champion and a huge reason why Montreal fans loved him.  You don’t trade Guy Lafleur.  You don’t trade a Rocket Richard or Jean Believeau, and frankly you don’t trade a PK Subban.

I love Shea Weber.  I think he is a great player.   I think he’s given his all to the game and if he ever wins a Stanley Cup he’s a lock for the Hall of Fame.   While not ready for the glue factory yet, he his past his prime by NHL standards.

Even if he wins one with Montreal in the next 2-3 years, this trade of Weber for Subban is an utter and total failure for Bergevin.

At every possible level it’s a failure.   Financially it’s a disaster.   Statistically it’s a failure.   Even using the character measure it’s a disaster.  Professional sports is about winning championships.   In Montreal Winning a Stanley Cup is the barometer or success.    The lack of cup wins over the last twenty or so years is clearly connected to mismanagement such as how this trade went down.

I have a hunch PK was meant to be traded at the draft.  Even that was too late in the game.

This year Sydney Crosby seemed to get his coach fired.  He started out slow as did the Penguins, and GM Jim Rutherford pulled the trigger and Lord Stanley was the result.   Now not every team that fires its coach gets those type of results, but this is the second time Syd has finagled that.     The last time was…..turfing Michel Therrien.

Michel Therrien is not a good coach.   When a team wins the cup the same year you’re fired mid season that’s a statement.

The problems that ail this team are essentially still there.

PK Subban will one day enter the Hall of Fame and I don’t doubt that he’ll win a Stanley Cup before his career is over barring cataclysmic injury.

Signing Radulov was something this writer actually wrote about and suggested three months ago.    My question is would he have signed for 2 years at $5M per rather than one at $5.75?

In the cap age it’s all about Risk to Benefit Ratios.     If you are going to pay $5.75M on a hunch you can only lose by going one year.  This isn’t a $1M flyer.   If Radulov smokes it, and I have a hunch playing with Alex Galchenyuk will be successful, what next?   Another high priced contract situation like the one that led to Subban’s?

Likewise, the team will miss Lars Eller defensively.

Clearly Marc Bergevin is all in this season to save his job.   Radulov, Weber, and Shaw, are good players that improve the team, and the team can’t do worse than last year.

The hire of Kirk Muller is a smart move.   My question is if it was predicated by Bergevin or by the team’s owner?  Will the a team start strong to support Therrien?  Muller is insurance and I would bet money that he will be head coach of Montreal before the season is over.

Muller should help the power play and be an influence that has been missing since Gerald Gallant went to the Panthers.    A lot of people are asking if the PK situation would have ever devolved if Gallant had stayed and Therrien had left?

Likewise, I think the Habs lost out by not nabbing Guy Boucher last season before the Sens did, especially as Montreal was more geared to a speed attack than it will this season.

In the end Montreal will do better in 2016/17.  It may even save Marc Bergevin’s job.    They may even have a nice cup run, but in the long term this is going to be a brutal black hole for the franchise.

What do you think Hab fans?   You can post your comments below.

Jamie Gilcig is the editor of CFN.   In 1995/96 he was the first videographer for the Montreal Canadiens, and created advanced statistical analytical scouting tools that still are not available in the NHL before heading off to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter and producer.   He’s the answer to the trivia question, name the only Hab employee to ever have something he created nominated for an Oscar.


  1. I’m glad to to see PK Subban gone from the Canadiens. He was, somehow, able to put an “I” in team. I think he’ll learn in Nashville that hockey is a team sport. Perhaps he’ll also learn some humility in not hockey crazy Nashville.

  2. Great to see subban gone..Montreal never treated him fairly… esp the french media… Therrien is the worst coach in the league and bergevin is a liar… would be nice if they have the worse season ever so that therrien can be canned once for all…

  3. I was like totally devastated to learn that PJ was traded to Detroit. My summer and maybe the rest of my life has been ruined!

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