Featured

What is to Like About Marc Bergevin?

Bergycasual

As the tsunami of criticism is receding on the City of Montreal and around the hockey world after the earthquake created by the Montreal Canadiens trading P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber, many fans are now on a full quest to wish Marc Bergevin out of the City where he was born and raised.

This is by no mean the pulse of the majority of Habs’ fans, far from there, but this – loud – growing displeased group of fans is more vocal than ever – as if they needed to be – showing their displeasure not only with the coach Michel Therrien, but with the General Manager as well. Some even push it further by chastising team president and owner Geoff Molson, imagine!

To each their own, I guess, but in all this negativity surrounding the Canadiens since they started their slide back in November 2015, I felt the need to post, on my twitter account, how I felt. Knowing that it was positive towards the team and that it went against the twitter popular belief (or so it seemed), I chose to express how I felt by affirming that the Canadiens are in good hands with Marc Bergevin at the helm and that while I don’t necessarily agree with his each and every moves (or non-moves), I still have full confidence in him.

As expected, this prompted a mix of reactions from my followers, ranging from full support to others thinking that I had totally lost my mind (as if that wasn’t already done). But one person who likes to go against almost everyone of my posts raised a legitimate question when asking why I felt that way. As one hundred and fourty characters isn’t enough to answer such as simple, yet complex question, I thought that this blog would be a good tribune to explain myself. Here are some of the reasons why I personally trust what Bergevin is doing:

  1. He knows how to surround himself with good hockey people. Scott Melanby (who was considered for the position of Las Vegas’ GM), Rick Dudley (former NHL GM well respected), and former players Martin Lapointe and Rob Ramage to oversee the prospects’ developments are only a few examples of it.
  2. He respects everyone around him and because of it, he is respected. Players like him as he doesn’t play games with them. Much like Brian Burke, he defends his players most times, if or when needed. He’s not afraid to take the heat as he’s done in many occasions, including when the team collapsed last season.
  3. He doesn’t panic. Even with his team in dire need of help last season, with other teams seeing him coming from miles away, he didn’t blow the team up for a quick fix, just to save one season. He could recognise that the injuries, particularly to the league MVP in Carey Price, played a big role in the team’s collapse. In no way did he use that as an excuse, but it allowed him to see how much the team without Price was lacking in – good – leadership, which led to the moves he’s made so far this summer.
  4. He promised to build through the draft and he does just that. Yes, he did trade some draft picks but most times, it was for young players with contract years left in them. And he acquired about as many picks in other trades. One example of that is when he traded two second round picks to acquire Andrew Shaw, then turned around and traded Lars Eller for… two second round picks.
  5. He toys around with the media and the loud minority of negative fans. He knows and recognises the difference between what’s legitimate and the complaints just for the sake of complaining. He has repeated in many occasions that his role was not to be popular, but to make decisions which would make the team better and that’s what he is set to do. Oh opinions will differ, but that’s HIS team and HIS job that is on the line with the decisions that HE feels are the right ones for the Canadiens.

“Responding to the media, or playing to the media, or listening to the fans is the quickest way to start losing.” ~ Sam Pollock

MORE DIFFICULT

Like many though, I wish he could have managed to help his team last season but unlike the negative fans out there, I can see and imagine that teams weren’t lined-up to help the all-mighty Montreal Canadiens out of the hole that they were digging themselves into. For that reason, they were likely asking for the moon for the player(s) that Bergevin was courting. Sometimes, the best moves that you make are the ones you don’t make.

I’m not the biggest fan of Michel Therrien, I’ll admit. But unlike many in the fan base, I’m not willing to call him a “mediocre coach” and like we’ve explored on this blog before, who really would have been better to replace him? I do, however, welcome back Kirk Muller to the coaching staff and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table.

FANS NEED TO COOL OFF

Many fans were upset to see PK Subban being traded and rightfully so. Subban is a good hockey player and he loved Montreal. He shared a special bond with the fans and he was involved in the community. He is a very likeable character who has tons of charisma.WeberAward

There is a reason why he was traded folks and thankfully, the Canadiens are refusing to do like other teams and leak some information which could tarnish the player’s reputation. Remember when Boston traded Phil Kessel? Or Tyler Seguin? Or more recently Dougie Hamilton? The tarnish campaign was in full force in each and every case. So far, we haven’t seen that from Bergevin and his team and that’s for the better.

What’s really troubling however is seeing some fans putting down Shea Weber without even having seen him play. Most of those complaining are basing their opinion on a few “fancy stats”, which has been a hot topic recently around the Canadiens and the NHL. I’ve watched Weber play and if fans are expecting a flash and dash player like Subban, they’ll be disappointed. Fans can however expect a good passing, rugged and reliable defenseman who can be as effective offensively as the beloved #76. As a matter of fact, Weber is one of my favourite NHL players as it stands!

So please, fans and media, don’t get on Weber’s case and show that you’re smarter than that. He didn’t ask to be traded and he’s planning on giving his best to his new team. He’s not Subban, he’s Shea Weber. An All-Star. A right-handed defenseman who was a first ballot nomination for Team Canada at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. The Habs aren’t getting a dud here folks. They are arguably getting the better player in the trade!

Featured

Radulov is a Gamble, But The Odds Are On His Side

HabsRadulov

Marc Bergevin has often repeated that some of the biggest mistakes are made on July 1st. By that, he means that the competition gets so strong, the level of desperation gets so high, that teams end up signing players for money and/or terms that they end up regretting. At the time of writing this, over half a billion dollars has been committed in guaranteed contracts.

Seeing all big names being signed to ridiculous contracts, some of which Bergevin had had discussions with, made most fans quite thankful that the Habs didn’t pull the trigger on those deals. But Bergevin wasn’t to be outdone, when reports out of Russia stated that the Canadiens had signed Alexander Radulov.

Fans and media had to wait a couple of hours to get the confirmation that the Canadiens and Radulov had reached a contract agreement for one season. The talented but controversial Russian will touch $5.75 million for his try-out season with the Habs.

I will the first to admit that I was less than thrilled when I found out about the (potential) signing. Radulov doesn’t spell character, as he had more than his fair share of bad decisions while with the Nashville Predators. But I changed my mind when listening to a report from John Lu on TSN, reading a text from an insider out in Russia, who knows Radulov:

JohnLuRadulov

SergachevContract
The Canadiens have also announced that prospect Mikhail Sergachev has signed an entry-level contract with the team.

I then listed to Marc Bergevin’s press conference and like him, I feel quite good about the signing. Bergevin insisted on the one-year deal, to minimize his risk. What really hit me though is when the Canadiens’ GM revealed that he spoke to newly acquired Shea Weber about the enigmatic Russian. Weber’s response was that in his case, it was not a lack of character, but rather a lack of maturity. Then Bergevin continued to do his homework when he spoke to Radulov’s coach, Sergei Fedorov, who confirmed that he wasn’t the same player who left Nashville, that he now has a child, and that no one works harder than him.

Like Bergevin, I’m cautiously optimistic about this signing but as he said himself:

I had a discussion with Alex and I have a good feeling about him. Having said that, I also had a discussion with Zack (Kassian), so it’s a gamble for sure.

In his own press conference, Radulov sounded like a more mature person and his answers were on point. He didn’t try to find excuses for himself and he genuinely sounded like he wanted to come back for the right reasons.

What happened in the past is in the past. I did what I did, you look in the past and regret things but I know more what I’m doing now and what I want. I want to focus on hockey. The NHL is the best league, I’m older and I want to play against the best players and try to win a Stanley Cup. Montreal has a good group of guys with a great goaltender, great defense and some good forwards, and it’s a good fit. I want to contribute and help. I’m really happy to be a teammate with Shea Weber again.

So Habs’ fans, everyone deserves a second chance. We’ve all made mistakes and learned from them. Something tells me that this gamble could very well work out for Bergevin and the Canadiens and if that’s the case, Radulov could very well have found a new home. We know how Habs’ fans like Russian players.