Habs Players Get Into Mentorship

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You are a young hockey player. At 18, you are drafted to the NHL. To boot, it’s the most storied franchise in the game who called your name. After attending a camp or two, you eventually sign your first professional contract. Immediately, you feel not only the pressure to wear that legendary uniform, but fans are already starting to idolize you. When you finally make the big club, you enter this world of glamour, fans recognizing you everywhere you go. You are young, good looking, with pockets full of money and girls are all around you wanting nothing more than to be the next hockey girlfriend/wife. What could go wrong?

There have been plenty of examples over the years all around the NHL where these situations get to a young player’s head and Montreal is no different. If anything, it might even be worse, hockey being the only major professional sport in town (no disrespect intended to the Impact and the Alouettes), and with bars closing at 3:00 am. The inner circles of corruption and drugs are everywhere and temptation to “live the life” is omnipresent, and young players are most vulnerable to it.

With the Canadiens, we have seen first hand the effect of what I refer to as “vedettaria“, has had on players, particularly on local talents who are placed on an even higher pedestal. Whether it be fans pushing for Guillaume Latendresse to stay in Montreal while still of junior age, Jose Theodore being made bigger than he really was, Mike Ribeiro and Pierre Dagenais were preferred to Saku Koivu and Craig Rivet when things blew up in practice… those are just a few concrete examples proving that point, contributing to the fact the Bell Centre had to let them in through the garage door just so their head could fit through the doors.

So pardon me if I am a bit concerned about seeing Jonathan Drouin come in and be the new face of the Canadiens in their promos on Canadiens.com. Jerseys and T-shirts sales, taking on the streets in Montreal doing live interviews with fans, the Habs are obviously taking full advantage of having the most talented young local product in the NHL playing for them. Here’s hoping that the young man keeps both feet anchored to the ground.

Local products weren’t the only ones however and current management has done a good job at weeding out the distractions. They gave Zack Kassian a chance, Marc Bergevin sitting with him immediately after the trade, but his demons were too strong, Canadiens’ GM trading him before the troubled forward could play a single game after he rammed his truck into a telephone poll at the wee hours in the morning. Devante Smith-Pelly loved the nightlife and guess what happened? In addition to him not being the most coachable,  P.K. Subban was traded for rubbing his teammates the wrong way, some claiming that his ego was bigger than the team. After several chances, Nathan Beaulieu will now pursue his career under the leadership of… Evander Kane!

The Canadiens almost “lost the handle” on star goaltender Carey Price but Bergevin pushed all the right buttons by bringing his mother to live with him, and his then girlfriend. And Alex Galchenyuk‘s outings have made the news from time to time, management still trying to decide if he’ll turn it around like Price or if his fate will follow Beaulieu’s.

Leadership stepping up

While some laugh at the concept, Bergevin believes in character and positive leadership and that’s why he acquired the likes of former Mark Messier Award winner Shea Weber, Andrew Shaw, Torrey Mitchell and Jordie Benn (amongst others), to better support the existing leaders in captain Max Pacioretty, Carey Price, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov.

At the end of last season, we were able to witness the newly found friendship between young veteran Andrew Shaw, who took rookie Artturi Lehkonen under his wing. The two were inseparable and Shaw sees a lot of himself in his young teammate.

“He’s [Lehkonen] fun to be around. He’s a kid having fun … he’s enjoying life. He kind of reminds me of how I play. He plays physical, he goes to those dirty areas, he competes, he goes to the net, and I like that in a player. I try to help him out, how he can better his game, what he needs to keep working on, what he needs to keep doing to be successful in the league.” ~ Andrew Shaw

Shaw isn’t the only one taking young guys under his wings, as we have discovered this summer. Earlier this summer, Brendan Gallagher posted a picture on his Instagram account of he and Shea Weber playing a round of golf at Pebble Beach. Ironic in the sense that Weber broke Gallagher’s had with a slap shot previously, Gally is considered one of the team’s young leaders, who is learning from one of the best leaders in the entire NHL.

Captain Pacioretty didn’t take long to reach to newcomer Drouin and the two are training together this off-season in preparation for the upcoming NHL season. The 22 year-old Drouin can’t ask for a better welcome to the City than having the one wearing the captain “C” on his jersey taking the time to train with him, in Montreal.

 

More recently in an article on Canadiens.com, we found out that 32 year-old veteran Torrey Mitchell is training with 22 year-old Mike McCarron, pushing each other. And McCarron is learning a lot from the veteran.

“This is my first summer training one-on-one with another guy with that much experience. He’s definitely showed me what it takes to stay in the League that long. He’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever worked out with,” said McCarron, who trains with Mitchell five to six times per week off the ice. “Sometimes you look at him like he’s crazy, but that’s why he’s been in the NHL for so long. Training with Torrey has definitely helped me train harder this summer.”

Where this mentorship will lead to when it comes to on-ice production remains to be seen, but there is not a soul who can see the negative in such collaboration. It looks like Bergevin’s message is getting through and the leaders are, well, just being themselves. And as a fan, I have to say that I love what I’m seeing… and so does management, rest assured. Go Habs Go!

Truth About Habs’ Bergevin’s Trade Record

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Marc Bergevin took over as the Montreal Canadiens’ General Manager on May 2, 2012. Since then, his team has a combined 210-128-38 record, including three Atlantic Division Titles and with at least 100 points (or on pace during lockout year) in four of the five years. As July 16, 2017, he has also completed a grand total of 46 trades, making him one of the most active GM’s in the last five years. While it’s one thing to trade players, the ultimate goal for a GM is to, at the very least, improve your team and Bergevin has done just that… for the most part.

As determining who “wins” or “loses” a trade is arbitrary, I tried to stay as unbiased as humanly possible but some won’t agree with my assessment and that’s just fine. You will see that regardless, if people take an unbiased approach, the results might change ever so slightly but they should rapidly realize that things aren’t as sombre as some want you to believe.

 

WINS

  • Cedrick Desjardins traded to Tampa Bay Lightning for Dustin Tokarski (2013) Tokarski was very good when Carey Price went down to injury.
  • (W) 5th round pick #146 (Patrick Bartosak) traded to Los Angeles Kings for Davis Drewiske (2013) Drewiske brought NHL experience at a time when the Habs needed some at the blueline.
  • Philippe Lefebvre and a 7th round pick #182 (Hugo Fagerblom) in 2014 traded to Florida Panthers for George Parros (2013) While some don’t like enforcers, it was a very low price to pay to bring in the best in the game at the time. It’s unfortunate that a fluke play during a fight against Colton Orr ended his career.
  • Raphael Diaz traded to Vancouver Canucks for Dale Weise (2014) Do we really need to explain?
  • 5th round pick #147 (Ryan Pilon – NYI) in 2015 traded to Florida Panthers for Mike Weaver (2014) Weaver was one of the NHL’s top shot blockers.
  • Sebastian Collberg and a 2nd round pick #57 (Johnathan MacLeod – TBL) in 2014 traded to New York Islanders for Thomas Vanek and a 5th round pick #125 (Nikolas Koberstein) in 2014. (2014) Vanek ended the season on one of the NHL’s top producing lines with Pacioretty and Desharnais.
  • Josh Gorges traded to Buffalo Sabres for a 2nd round pick #45 (Chad Krys – CHI) in 2016 later traded to Chicago (Weise/Fleishmann trade, turned into Danault + 2nd) (2014) The fact that the pick turned into Danault…
  • Jiri Sekac traded to Anaheim Ducks for Devante Smith-Pelly (2015) Smith-Pelly is still in the NHL.
  • 2nd round pick #57 (Jonas Siegenthaler) in 2015 and a 4th round pick #117 (Caleb Jones) in 2015 traded to Edmonton Oilers for Jeff Petry. (2015) Considering that Petry signed long term with the Habs bringing excellent minutes on the second pairing.
  • 5th round pick #129 (Philip Nyberg) in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Brian Flynn (2015) Small price to pay for a NHL forward capable of playing a sound game.
  • Jack Nevins and a 7th round pick #189 (Austin Osmanski) in 2016 traded to Buffalo Sabres for Torrey Mitchell (2015) Mitchell has provided excellent minutes for the Canadiens.
  • Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann traded to Chicago Blackhawks for Phillip Danault and a 2nd round pick (TBD) in 2018 (2016) This could very well be a steal of a trade.
  • Lars Eller traded to Washington Capitals for a 2nd round pick #58 (Joni Ikonen) in 2017 and a 2nd round pick (TBD) in 2018, which was later conditionally traded to Tampa Bay in the deal for Jonathan Drouin (June 15, 2017) (2016) Ikonen already looks very promising while the pick helped get Drouin.
  • Greg Pateryn and a 4th round pick #118 (Markus Phillips) in 2017 traded to Dallas Stars for Jordie Benn (2017) To the point where the Canadiens were forced to protect Benn, Phillips better be really good to make this one even.
  • 6th round pick (TBD) in 2018 traded to Detroit Red Wings for Steve Ott (2017) Ott has provided experience and grit down the stretch and in the playoffs.

LOSSES

  • Daniel Briere traded to Colorado Avalanche for P.A. Parenteau and a 5th round pick #131 (Matthew Bradley) in 2015 (2014) Briere never could find a niche with the Canadiens.
  • Peter Budaj and Patrick Holland traded to Winnipeg Jets for Eric Tangradi (2014) A meh trade, with relatively low cost.
  • Brandon Prust traded to Vancouver Canucks for Zack Kassian and a 5th round pick #124 (Casey Staum) in 2016 (2015) Twice Kassian has made the “losses” for Bergevin in a trade, a lot having to do with his addiction.
  • Devante Smith-Pelly traded to New Jersey Devils for Stefan Matteau (2016) Although DSP is not lighting it up, at least he’s in the NHL.
  • Zack Kassian traded to Edmonton Oilers for Ben Scrivens (2015) See above.
  • 4th round conditional pick (TBD) in 2018 traded to Los Angeles Kings for Dwight King (2017) King was a big disappointment with the Canadiens.

TIES

TO BE DETERMINED

  • 3rd round pick #87 (Anton Karlsson) in 2014 and a 4th round pick #117 (Michael Bunting) in 2014 traded to Arizona Coyotes for 3rd round pick #73 (Brett Lernout) in 2014 (2014)
  • 2nd round pick #39 (Alexander DeBrincat) in 2016 and a 2nd round pick #45 (Chad Krys) in 2016 traded to Chicago Blackhawks for Andrew Shaw (2016) If the prospects don’t pan out, it will be a win for the Habs.
  • Philip Samuelsson traded to Carolina Hurricanes for Keegan Lowe (2017)
  • Sven Andrighetto traded to Colorado Avalanche for Andreas Martinsen (2017) Andrighetto had a good start with the Avs. Let’s see what he does this year.
  • Nathan Beaulieu traded to Buffalo Sabres for a 3rd round pick #68 (Scott Walford) in 2017 (2017) Some would like to pounce on Bergevin for that one but the fact and the matter is that no team offered more than an early 3rd for Beaulieu.
  • 5th round pick (TBD) in 2019 traded to San Jose Sharks for David Schlemko (2017) This could very well be at the Canadiens’ advantage, in the win column for Bergevin but let’s wait to see how Schlemko plays in Montreal.

So as you can see, according to my calculation, Bergevin’s record when it comes to the trades that he made is an astonishing 15-6-19 with another six trades where it’s too early to tell. This means that he has tied or won 85 percent of the trades that he’s made so far, give or take a few trades here and there depending if you have an axe to grind against the organization or not. Any NHL team will take that and we better understand why Brian Burke feels like the attacks on Bergevin are absurd.