Bergevin Has Let His Players Down

Sometimes, inaction is an action that speak louder than anything. It can be a good thing, or it can blow back in your face. Admittedly, some inactions are however better than bad actions. In some case though, inaction can be the equivalent of becoming stagnant, even taking a step back in a particular moment, especially when those around you have all moved forward. If you’re standing still and everyone else is moving forward, you still have lost ground.

All through summer, Marc Bergevin was on the hot seat. Not only had he failed to bring his team to the next level but according to some, the team had regressed. At the start of the season, even after the moves that he made in the summer, fans and media were sceptical about his acquisitions. After all, he had traded his top two goals’ scorers for guys whose production was nowhere close to them. He hadn’t improved his porous defense. The expectations? What expectations? The once glorious Montreal Canadiens were going to be a lottery team with good odds to get the 1st overall pick, everyone thought.

Well this group of players, led by captain Shea Weber, his assistants Brendan Gallagher and Paul Byron, and room leader Carey Price, decided otherwise. They took matter into their own hands and they were going to prove everyone wrong and that, they certainly did. To the point where at the trade deadline, they found themselves in a playoffs’ position.

History repeats itself

Trade deadline comes and players are secretly hoping to get some help, a bit of a reward for their had work, for their dedication. Something to get them over the hump. What did they get this season? Fourth line help and a seventh or eighth defenseman. Yes, Christian Folin, Nate Thompson, Dale Weise and Jordan Weal were added to the roster by Bergevin. Players are looking at this knowing full well that their biggest needs were someone to help spark their anemic powerplay, and a left-handed defenseman to eat up big minutes on the top-4. The got nothing, nata.

Canadian country music star Terri Clark once said:

The best thing to do is stare it in the face and move on. We have to face our fears and plow through. I think taking chances takes a lot more courage than staying stagnant and doing what’s safe and comfortable.

And this is not the first time that Marc Bergevin is playing it safe at the trade deadline. There seems to be a pattern here and players aren’t stupid. They see it. At least those who were here when it happened before.

The 2014-2015 season was the last time Bergevin gave them some substantial help. With his team sitting second overall, he acquired Jeff Petry from the Edmonton Oilers, to play behind P.K. Subban. As is his trademark, he also fortified his fourth line by adding Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell. Results? They lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs but that wasn’t because Bergevin did nothing.

Carey Price and Shea Weber could have used some much needed help.

The following year, Carey Price injured his knee and only played 12 games to start the season. With Price in the line-up, the Canadiens were sitting seventh in the NHL’s overall standings. Bergevin waited to December 28th to get help and instead of getting a quality goaltender, he traded for… Ben Scriven. He never addressed the need, never adjusted all season long and that was a huge let down for the players. No one can replace Price, everyone knows that, but to expect Scriven to come anywhere close the the All-Star netminder’s level of play is mind boggling. The Habs finished 22nd overall that year, well out of a playoffs’ spot.

In 2016-2017, the Canadiens were sitting in eighth place overall by trade deadline day with 78 points in 64 games. At the deadline, here’s the help Bergevin gave his players: An aging Steve Ott, Dwight King, Andreas Martinsen, Brandon Davidson and… Jordie Benn. With deficiencies covered by the play of Price (who had a strong finish to the season) the Habs managed to maintain their pace but were eliminated by the New York Rangers after Chris Kreider took Price out of the series.

Last season, the Canadiens suffered a huge loss when it was announced that Shea Weber had broken his foot in the very first game of the season and was shut down for the season after only 26 games into it. How did Bergevin react? He waited, picked up Mike Reilly by the deadline and… became a seller. Only the Buffalo Sabres, the Ottawa Senators and the Arizona Coyotes finished the season with a worse record than the Habs.

Jump to February 25th, 2019… The Canadiens are battling for a playoffs’ spot. Claude Julien‘s team has won only two of its last eight games, allowing on average almost four goals per game and their powerplay sits second last in the NHL with a 12.7% success rate. Their recent slump has allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins to distance themselves, when the three teams were nose to nose just a few days back. What did Bergevin do? He went and changed his fourth line. The powerplay help didn’t come and the blatant hole on the left side of the defense is still has gaping as it has been all year.

In the meantime, the teams battling with the Canadiens bolstered their roster. The players see that…. and it could very well cost them to miss the playoffs when it’s all said and done.

Having said all of that, While it’s okay to be upset to see that the Habs didn’t add any major asset(s) at the deadline, we do need to remind ourselves that they also didn’t give away any major asset(s) either. Also, rest assured that Bergevin has planted important seeds in the last few days and sometimes, those come to tuition in the off season. Nothing lost, except a playoffs’ appearance in my opinion, and some valuable playoffs’ experience for the young players on the team. Let’s just hope that the players don’t give up on Bergevin the way he sort of did on them. Go Habs Go!

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10 thoughts on “Bergevin Has Let His Players Down

  1. The Ott, King and Martinson acquisitions were eliminated in the first round in 6 games, not the Kreider incident which was in the semis. Same team, different year. A lot of teams have lousy games on deadline day. Doesn’t mean the team was unhappy with no incoming guys, often it is a day far from routine.

  2. Don’t know why people keep harping on this. We’ve got lots of young talent coming up. They’ve got to have a chance to play when their turn comes. Suzuki, Poehling, Ryan… they need to get a chance. How they gonna get a chance when you keep bringing people in. Look at what happened to KK this year by letting him play, he’s doing fine for a rookie. Why would you take that from these players.

  3. You three didn’t say that but I’ve read it many times: people saying that even when adding, it wouldn’t be enough to beat Tampa. I don’t like that mentality. You don’t better your team only to beat the top team. That top team can be eliminated in the first round, for all we know. Nobody saw it coming when the Habs won their last two Cups. With a goalie like Price and 3 balanced scoring lines, you never what can happen.
    For that reason, I would have liked to see two fairly minor moves:
    1- Gustav Nyquist who went for a 2nd and conditional 3rd. He’s had success with Tatar and would add depth to the top-9.
    2- Michael Del Zotto who went for a 6th round pick. With his experience, he would have battled for a spot (and won IMO) with Mike Reilly.
    With the addition to Weal for the faceoffs, I think that it would have improved the team enough to make the playoffs and give the young guys some much valuable playoffs experience, whether it’d be one or two rounds.

  4. It would have been interesting to add a Gustav Nyquist or a Michael Grandlund/Nino Niederreiter to the Top 6, this would have pushed everyone down 1 line. But i dont think we are RICH enough in assets to complete with the other teams when trading. We dont have a Fiala or Ryan Hartman or even Victor Rask. We are 100% healthy right now and barely have enough quality players to fill top 9. Even though i dont know anything about Weal, it seems he is ideal for the 4th line with Thompson and possibly Lehkonen. Basically it comes down to this is not the year to go for it.
    Tatar-Danault-Gallager
    Drouin-Domi-Shaw
    Byron-KK-Weal
    Lehkonen-THompson-Armia

  5. For me, I very happy with what Bergevin did. There’s 31 teams with 31 different needs. if what the team that have Bergevin’s needs don’t need anything on the Habs roster, then they will asked for the Habs best prospects and the Habs would have to pay dearly for it, because what the Habs need is practically only acquired through the drafts.

    Fixing the forth line was the way to go. Only look at the game vs Toronto. The line at fault in that lost was the forth. Note that recently Stanley cup winners is due in great part to the forth line. Not only Bergevin fixed the forth, but also addressed the need at the face off circle, now with the likes of Thompson and Weal, both very good in face off, Julien can play Danault on the PP. Before taking O-zone face offs were done by guys who had 45%, so the Habs had to go back in their zone. Now if only Julien or Muller would have the decency of recognizing that Armia is a good PK player, but bad on the PP.

    You don’t need size to block the goalie view, bigger players makes the goalie squat down, smaller player the goalies tend to look over them, they remain more in an upright position, since more goals are scored near the ice, getting the goalie up is way better than having the goalie in a close to the butterfly position.

    For me, Julien should keep his line intact on the PP, Danault, Shaw and Tatar, have all the ingredient of a PP line. the center/play-maker in Danault, the in your face/dirty area/deflector in Shaw and the shouter in Tatar. Also I would keep Weber and Mete. Weber for his shot and Mete because he is very good at entering the zone in possession. Armia is big, but doesn’t have a single goal on the PP of all his NHL career. Plus big bodies also block shots more. This PP is too bad not to turn completely the other way. Using Armia make a 5 vs 4 a 4 vs 4, taht is exactly why the PP iis not working.

    Montreal with a 12th PP instead of a 30th, would be right after Tampa. Yes the need for a top 2 D and a sniper is there, but fixing the forth and the face offs was also there, and that seems to be fixed at practically no cost. The more urgent need IMO is fixing the PP, however, the referees usually call less penalties in the series, since the Habs are 4th on 5 vs 5. they have a better chance to go far than on team who solely depend on the PP. Sorry for the long post.

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