The Don Cherry Saga: Resolution, Canadian-Fashion

It doesn’t happen often – as a matter of fact, it might be the first time – but this was too good not to share with you, faithful readers. The story surrounding Don Cherry has monopolized much of our time and conversations since his outing about poppies, but it’s been surrounded by so much negative energy. Those who know me well will tell you that I’m a positive person, for the most part, and when I read this, it really struck a nerve (in a good way). And I’m hoping that it has the same effect on you who reads this. It is a must read whether you feel the firing of Don Cherry isn’t fair, was warranted or if it leaves you indifferent.

The following was written by a lady by the name of Sophia Jackson. As you will see, it’s well worth sharing.

Dear Canadian friends,

About the Don Cherry online ranting party our nation is having. We’re at the start of the long winter and it feels like our country is going to bed angry at itself. This makes me upset. So I’m wading into the conversation in a well-meaning Canadian fashion. Perhaps my ideas are naive. It’s not my intention to offend anyone. My only wish is to redirect anger towards the positive, to hopefully help people make better use of their frustration. Depending on your stance, below are three calls to action:

1. If you want to show Don your support for his Remembrance Day comments about wearing the poppy, instead of signing an online petition, do this:

Join or support your local Royal Canadian Legion. There are 1,400 branches across the country. Their memberships are ageing and some are struggling to stay viable. They just had their single biggest fundraiser of the year. Instead of letting them wait for another whole year to feel the love, keep the momentum going. Forgo some Christmas presents and instead, from now until the end of the year, cash mob your local Legion. You don’t have to be a member – anyone is welcome. Going out for dinner? Go to the Legion. Meeting a friend for a beer? Go to the Legion. Enter the meat draw. Hit the pancake breakfast or Friday night bingo. Talk to a veteran who’s sitting alone. Listen to their stories. Subtly ask if they’re ready for winter – what supports do they have in place? For many of these proud elderly people, Remembrance Day is the one day of the year they feel “seen.” Get some friends together and help this be your local Legion’s best Christmas ever, so much that they can report record support and make the newspaper. I think Don would give it a thumbs up.

If there’s no Legion near where you live, this challenge applies to any local veteran’s association or senior’s home. Just get out there and celebrate your freedom-giving elders.

2. If you feel Don’s comments were offensive to new Canadians, here is your challenge:

Befriend a new immigrant. Some are from hot countries and they’re heading into their first Canadian winter. If you grew up here, you know how unforgiving our winters can be. Explain to them that while February looks short on the calendar, it will feel unbearably long. Give candles and lanterns and good socks. Cozy things to provide comfort.

More than things, give time. Being an immigrant is hard. In the beginning, homesickness is like a pain that can’t be soothed. Some new immigrants are here alone, without any family. They miss the music, the food, the laughter of those they love and who love them. Social isolation does not create happy Canadians. So host a potluck for a new neighbour. Ask to swap cooking or language lessons. Trade Spotify playlists. Even small gestures can make a person feel they aren’t alone and that someone cares.

3. If you’re somewhere in the middle between these two ideas, or believe both options are equally valid and beneficial activities, do both.

Spend an hour having coffee with a veteran, then another hour going for a walk with a newcomer to Canada. Do this often enough and you will become a very wise human.

And if you’re sitting there making up excuses why you can’t do any of it – I’m afraid I’m going to have to call you on your bullshit. If we want things to change, we need to act on our convictions. No matter what side of the argument you’re on, don’t just be angry on social media or rage internally. Let your actions be your message. Let’s be the best Canadians we can be and really giv’er!

I love you, eh?

Detailed Look at The Habs Under Marc Bergevin

American community organizer and writer Saul Alinsky once said: “First rule of change is controversy. You can’t get away from it for the simple reason all issues are controversial. Change means movement, and movement means friction, and friction means heat, and heat means controversy.” If you follow the Montreal Canadiens up close, you will recognize that this quote is not only true, but it’s a way of life in a City where fans and reporters look for controversy even when there’s none to be had.

Some were upset that Bergevin was part of a McDonald’s commercial

Canadiens’ General Manager Marc Bergevin is, in the eyes of a few, a very controversial man. Since daring to trade then fan favourite P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators, everything the man says or does, even the way he walks and breathes upsets a certain group. Fuelling their anger towards the man, team President and owner Geoff Molson decided to keep Bergevin in place after a dismal season a couple of years ago. Some were furious. Need proof? There are people who were up in arms because… he recently did a McDonald’s commercial! Yes, that’s right. But that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But deep down, it doesn’t make it right. We all know that.

Allow me to propose a new concept. Well, it’s not new but it differs from the petty battles we read daily. What if, instead of focussing on the the Habs solely, we took a few steps back to differentiate the forest from the trees? What if we looked at the ensemble of his work instead of “feeling” like he’s not doing his job? Let’s see where that leads us, shall we? No playing with numbers, no twisting things to make him look good or bad. Simple facts. While that may not change anyone’s mind, particularly those set in their way who have no intentions to think rationally, it will at least give a more realistic picture.

Record

Bergevin took over in the summer of 2012, after the team finished 28th out of 30 in the league. Not including this season, his team has a 283-198-59 record from the 2012-13 to the 2018-19 season. Some will say it’s good, others will claim that it’s not. How does it rank in comparison to the other NHL teams? Let’s have a look, shall we?

RANKTEAMRECORDAvg Pts/Season
1-318-163-5999.3
2-319-165-5699.1
3-308-166-6697.4
4-318-177-5897.3
5-306-166-6897.1
6-316-177-4797.0
7-296-178-6694.0
8-299-184-5793.6
9-245-183-7491.4
10-284-194-6290.0
11-283-198-5989.3
12-284-201-5589.0
13-285–209-4688.1
14-278-206-5687.4
274-202-6487.4
16-276-205-5987.3
17-272-208-6086.3
18-257-206-7784.4
19-258-220-6283.1
20-266-228-4682.6
21-242-214-8481.1
22-244-225-7179.9
23-244-227-6979.6
24-249-233-5879.4
25-238-227-7578.9
26-237-236-6777.3
27-227-231-8376.7
28-221-257-6272.0
29-205-255-7071.4
30-191-280-6964.4
*94-56-14101.0
  • 2012-2013: Division title, 2nd in East to Pittsburgh, 4th overall
  • 2013-2014: 100 pts, 4th in East, 9th overall
  • 2014-2015: Division title, 2nd in East to NYR, 2nd overall
  • 2015-2016: 82 pts (38-38-6). 22nd overall, Price played 12 games all year
  • 2016-2017: Division title, 4th in East, 7th overall, 21 pts improvement
  • 2017-2018: 71 pts (29-40-13) 28th/31 overall, Weber played 26 games on one leg
  • “RESET”
  • 2018-2019: 96 pts (44-30-8), 14th overall, 25 pts improvement, Weber out 2 ½ months

It is important to acknowledge that in 2015-16, Carey Price only played 12 games all season, the team finishing with a .500 record. In 2017-18, Shea Weber broke his foot in the very first game against the Buffalo Sabres, played 26 games on one foot before being shut down for the season to get surgeries. Bergevin’s group couldn’t recup from it and finished with 71 points. In spite of those two major setbacks (two of the seasons when he missed the playoffs), Bergevin’s record as a GM places him 11th in the entire NHL.

Now consider that San Jose, Chicago and Minnesota are trending down, and that the Canadiens seem to be trending up based on the core that they have and their high end prospect pool. Eleventh in the entire NHL is quite amazing for a rookie GM… or any GM for that matter.

Prospects

Speaking of prospects, when Bergevin took over for the Canadiens, the organization’s top prospects were:

Jarred TinordiMichael BournivalCharles Hudon
Louis LeblancJoonas NattinenSteve Quailer
Patrick HollandDarren DietzSven Andrighetto
Danny KristoSebastian CollbergMark MacMillan
Morgan EllisBrady VailDalton Thrower
Mac Bennett

Now compare that to today. If one can’t see the difference, that person has some serious issues and should seek help. It’s nowhere comparable. Yes, Trevor Timmins was the guru before Bergevin, but it’s not until Bergy got to the GM position that he was given more free reign when it comes to the Draft. As a matter of fact, that’s when Bergevin took the podium on Draft day only to thank the host team and city, then let Timmins do the announcement.

Trades

Perhaps as important as the Draft, Bergevin has probably done his best work in the way of trades. He has completed several and has lost very few. But don’t take my word for it. Here are the trades that Bergevin has made since in place with the Canadiens:

Source: Capfriendly.com

He has lost very few trades and amongst the “big trades”, only one really is debatable: the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev. Yes, force is to admit that the Habs got the best out of the controversial trade bringing in team captain Shea Weber. Oh he has lost a few but they were all minor trades. The risks that he has taken were, for the most part, all low-risk with potential high reward. The Semin, Streit, Hemsky, that Bergevin is blamed for were all one-year deals at low cap hit, not andicaping the team long term. His biggest mistake was signing UFA Karl Alzner to that contract. To that I reply: show me a perfect GM and I’ll show you a liar.

Conclusion

Now that you know the facts, you can make a more educated assessment of Bergevin the GM. It won’t come as a secret that I personally find that overall, he has done a good job, particularly for a rookie GM in a market like Montreal. He showed great adaptability by successfully making his team younger on the fly and fill-in the cupboards of high quality prospects, to the point where experts place Montreal between fourth to eight best group of prospects in the NHL.

With the Canadiens currently sitting seventh in the NHL in the overall standings, with a very young team and quality prospects coming up, things are looking up. Bergevin has proven to anyone who doesn’t have an axe to grind that Molson made the right decision by keeping him on board when many were out with pitchforks and lanterns calling for his head. Let’s enjoy the ride, folks! Go Habs Go!