A Lesson to Learn for Fans, Bloggers and Media

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Jarred Tinordi had a bright future ahead of him. Big and strong defensemen with mobility on the ice are always in huge demand in the NHL and like his father Mark, a former NHLer himself, Jarred is as tough as it gets. But the 2015-2016 season will be one to forget for you young rear guard, one that he will want to put behind him as soon as possible.

Reaching the point in his early career where he could not be sent down to the AHL without being placed on wavers, the Canadiens decided to keep eight defensemen to start the season in Montreal. Knowing that injuries occur in the course of a hockey season, this decision wasn’t much of a surprise as it would give time to team GM Marc Bergevin to address the issue in the course of the season. Little did he know…

As we all know, the Canadiens were up to a great start and up until All-Star goaltender Carey Price went down for the second time to injuries in late November, the team was flying high. For that reason, Tinordi and teammate Greg Pateryn were not getting much playing time, having to sit in the press box more often than not. What became surprising however, and what raised some serious questions with many, and we touched on that bad then.

In a much publicized and criticized trade with the Arizona Coyotes, Tinordi was sent packing and the Canadiens received John Scott and Victor Bartley, a very modest return for a former first round pick with such upside. Everyone was pretty upset about the return and rightfully so, and most were blaming Bergevin for wasting an asset for what appeared to be nothing.

The truth comes out

As the NHL announced that Tinordi was issued a 20 games suspension without pay for violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program, things started falling into place. But not before those holding a grunge against the Montreal organization added to their personal vendetta by claiming that the Habs had known about it and that would further tarnish the organization. This theory was rapidly shut down by the Coyotes themselves, as shown here:

 

Little information has been released about the timeline and details of the testing on Tinordi but it appears like the testing itself was done while the big defenseman was still property of the Habs. Automatically, the league would know about the testing and the preliminary results and if they didn’t suspend him immediately, it is logical to think that Tinordi appealed the decision. As we can see with the Dennis Wideman appeal, those things drag for a long time.

Fans need to take a chill pill

The Tinordi situation, including why he wasn’t being played, why teams weren’t rushing to acquire him and why the Canadiens received so little in a trade for him are all reminders that fans, bloggers and media don’t know the ins and outs of what is going on behind the scene. Too many times, fans and bloggers especially, refuse to give the benefit of the doubt and feed on the fans’ popular belief and this is a crystal clear example that acting like this in pure non-sense.

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Bergevin knew something that we didn’t know.

Further information on the Tinordi situation may or may never come out but it certainly seems to explain why Bergevin said, after the trade, that this was the first offer that he had received for an asset that we all thought would be very desirable. It also brings some clarity on Bergevin’s comments after the trade when he said that he had to pull the trigger on this deal.

Now we better understand why Jarred Tinordi has remained so quiet in spite of not playing, and why Mark did the same. They knew about the tests and the process and they, unlike any of us, knew the real facts behind a very difficult situation for all parties involved.

To me and many level headed fans who try to take the rose glasses off when analysing a situation, it also reveals that while we all have opinions, pretending to know what we’re talking about, we don’t know much. We only know the tip of the iceberg but have no idea what lays underneath. My advise to those fans and bloggers pretending to be the invincible is that even the Titanic sank. Take your chill pill.

Go Habs Go!

Triple Low-Five for Marc Bergevin

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After breaking a franchise record with nine consecutive wins, the same group of players are breaking a record of futility with the worst performance and fall in their history. While some of it can be explained by the injury to league MVP Carey Price, something happened which made this team go on this unstoppable tailspin. Marc Bergevin, to his credit, wanted to take the heat off his coach and players by telling who ever wanted to hear that the entire blame was on him. However, we know that it’s not true.

Bergevin shares the blame with his coaching staff and with his players, we all know that. Why is Michel Therrien so adamant about playing David Desharnais so much when he’s been absolutely atrocious in the last six weeks or so? In spite of hiring Craig Ramsay to help with the special teams, why is this team struggling so much with the man advantage? Why is it that most nights, Tomas Plekanec is a non-factor, particularly since signing his contract extension and why is Andrei Markov creating more turnovers than the Pillsbury Doughboy?

Oh Bergevin has his fault, no doubt, but there are more people who must shoulder the blame for this shameful display, particularly when the GM’s goal was to bring back pride to wear the CH. While those who know and follow me know that I’m an unconditional of his work since taking over, there are, in my opinion, five key points where Bergevin messed up.

1- The Tinordi situation

Going into the season, the organization knew that both Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn would have to clear waivers if they were to be sent back to the AHL. For that reason, it was understandable to start the season with eight defensemen on the roster. After all, injuries do occur and Bergevin rightfully believes in having quality depth on the blue line. However, for some odd reasons that escapes us, there was no rotation to keep those players in game shape. Further, when someone got hurt, Tinordi didn’t get to play. As a matter of fact, the team even preferred calling up Mark Barberio and playing him instead of giving the big defenseman a chance. When he was finally traded on January 15th, Tinordi had played… three games!

This is mind boggling as how can a young player continue to develop without playing? How can he have any value if he goes months without seeing the ice? It’s to wonder if there was some miscommunication between the GM and his coaching staff, or, as I suspect, both were on the same wave length. Either way, it’s not good assets management and the return for Tinordi clearly proves that. Worse, they seem to be doing the same with Pateryn right now!

2- The medical team

When Carey Price went down the first time, the team doctors provided their diagnosis. When he came back, those same doctors and Price told Bergevin that he was at 100%. That I believe, whether he was or not is another story. But when Price went down the second time, the story kept changing or at least, the prognosis given to the fans and media did. In today’s day and age, with the technology made available to professional athletes, how can someone misdiagnose a player so badly?

Marc Bergevin is no doctor. He must rely on what the team doctors, the professionals being well remunerated by the team, to provide him the truth, to paint the real picture, no matter how painful it might be to hear. Yet, Price’s expected return date keeps on being pushed each time. When we saw him skate on Wednesday, he did not look comfortable at all. While Bergevin cannot diagnose injuries, as unfortunate and unfair it might seem, the responsibility still falls on his shoulders and the team is now in a very difficult position to even make the playoffs.

3- Lack of scoring wingers

While some will blame Bergevin for not getting a top end scoring winger last summer, there weren’t that many available. So he took a calculated risk by trading Brandon Prust for Zack Kassian, and signed UFA Alexander Semin for dirt cheap. Unfortunately for him, neither player panned out for the reasons that we know: Kassian continued his partying way and the game has passed Semin.

Where the finger can be pointed at the Canadiens’ GM however, is that to this date, he has not found a way to add some scoring touch to his line-up. Oh we’ve heard from insiders all over the place that Bergevin was the hardest working GM out there but his effort, ultimately, served nothing… so far. I say so far as often, trades take months of discussions to develop so I give him the benefit of the doubt.

4- Plekanec’s extension

Let’s get one thing straight: Tomas Plekanec is an excellent hockey player, in case you didn’t already know. He was up to a great start to the season while centering a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, so on October 16th, the team announced that they had signed him to a two-year, $12 million contract extension.

Why so soon in the season? While I never agreed with Bob Gainey’s rule of not negotiating during the season, what was the hurry? Why not wait to the second half of the season to see how things go? Had Bergevin done the same with pending UFA Dale Weise, who was on pace for a 45 goals season, imagine what he would have fetched then!

5- Publicly giving Therrien the season 

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A visibly tired Bergevin met the media on Janruary 21, 2016

The fact that he feels like the team’s poor play is not on his coach, or that he believes in him to turn things around is one thing. Stating publicly, in a press conference, that Michel Therrien is there for the season is a bit of a double-edged sword. No doubt that Bergevin wanted to stop fans and media from speculating about the coach’s future, but going public like this has the potential to create “job security” and what comes with it. Now how does the GM save face if he feels like a change is needed? He can’t fire him. The only possibility is if he promotes him to a different position within the organisation and that can still happen.

A chance to redeem himself

Geoff Molson fully supports Marc Bergevin. He and his friend Serge Savard took a long time selecting their man, the one who best fit their own philosophy and that has not changed. Bergevin is very well respected across the NHL and amongst all General Managers. He is a hard, honest worker who respects everyone, and he doesn’t panic. He has a plan and follows it, no matter how much fans or media complain. That’s his best quality in this market and the last GM to be this patient was none other than the person who helped select him: Serge Savard, who won the team’s last two Stanley Cups.

Having said all of that, what Bergevin does from now until the opening of training camp will say a lot about him. There might be some better UFAs available on the market and he still has a great core of young veterans and youth to build around. He needs to better surround them now.

  • For now, he needs to end Price’s season. Enough of this non-sense, get him under the knife if that’s what it takes. Do it now so that he can be ready for next year.
  • Then trade Tom Gilbert to a contender wanting depth on defense, and get Pateryn some ice time.
  • Also, as I’m sure he’s doing, go very hard on Jonathan Drouin. Make it happen. He won’t save the season but he will help down the road.
  • Trading Plekanec and Desharnais is a must, although this might be easier done this summer. The team cannot start next season with those two in the middle.
  • Throw money at Steven Stamkos if he becomes available. He’s worth it. Otherwise, try getting Eric Staal.
  • In all of that, Bergevin must try to get his hands on a 25-30 goals winger.

 

It’s easy isn’t it? At least on EA Sports it is.