Rabid Habs

Boisvert: It’s Time for the Habs to Rebuild

In the environment that is Habs’ Twitter, I want to make something abundantly clear.

I don’t want the Habs to rebuild.

I’m not sure any fan would choose rebuilding over winning. The former involves exchanging some pain and embarrassment for a chance at being good, and the latter is just being good. It’s a no brainer. Given the choice, you choose winning every time. Being good is good.

After the start the Canadiens have had this year, exacerbated by an embarrassing 6-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal no longer has that choice. The team Marc Bergevin built to compete isn’t competing. The team that should be winning is losing. The plan is failing, and it’s time to change things.

This isn’t a “Fire Bergevin” piece. The hashtag has been used so often that I’m not even sure we know what it means anymore. On the surface, it means replacing a general manager, but on a deeper level, it means admitting failure and accepting responsibility; things this team hasn’t done well. It means making a culture change that might not be compatible with the current players. It means the Canadiens as we know them, for better or worse, cease to exist. It’s a lot more complex than a two-word hashtag, despite which side of the fence you find yourself on.

Even though I want this team to win, and I always will want them to win, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that this group won’t win anything under its current configuration. There are just too many holes in this lineup and the holes put too much pressure on stars like Max Pacioretty, Carey Price and Shea Weber.

I understand the trepidation to the rebuild. Looking at the bottom of the NHL standings, you’ll find Arizona, Buffalo and even Edmonton. The screenshot of these three teams at the bottom of the standings has become an anti-rebuild-meme of sorts that is usually presented without comment. The reason it’s presented without comment is that it’s almost entirely indefensible to just look at these three teams and determine that rebuilds don’t work. Arizona is just two years into new management, Buffalo just had a front office shakeup this summer, and Edmonton built a flawed team that only goes when its best player is a world beater (sound familiar?)

All of these teams are still trying to become good teams. Not to mention the fact that Montreal has nearly lost to Buffalo twice this year, and they did lose to Arizona on home ice. If they’re supposed to be the laughing stock of the rebuild process, what the hell are the Canadiens?

The anti-rebuild-meme is also misleading because it excludes every team that has rebuilt successfully. Chicago rebuilt and landed two of the biggest stars in the game today. That core also has three cups. You can say the exact same thing about the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the next iteration of these teams, look no further than the divisional opponent that fed Montreal its lunch on Saturday. The Maple Leafs are headed for great things, and they’re probably one top-six defenseman away from being a true cup contender.

It’s also important to note that, being almost entirely draft dependent, rebuilders are reliant on good draft classes. Undoubtedly, some of that is luck. The Leafs landed William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews in three separate draft classes. The same can be said about the Oilers, who have landed on a few first round picks in Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

Looking at this year’s draft class, how can Montreal say no to taking a run at a top-five pick? Rasmus Dahlin could be Montreal’s match to Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson. Andrei Svechnikov could be the pure goal scorer Montreal has needed forever. Brady Tkachuk looks like a lock to be a true number one centre.

Sure, the odds of getting any of those guys are risky, but remember the list of anti-rebuild-meme teams I gave you earlier? At the moment, all three of them have 16 points. The Florida Panthers also have 16 points, and then the next best team is the Canadiens with 18 points.

If those teams are bad rebuilders, what are the Canadiens? 

If they’re not rebuilding, they’re just bad. Might as well be bad with a purpose. Go get a franchise player. Load up on picks and let Trevor Timmins do his job. Change the culture from “hating to lose” to “being good at hockey.” Get worse, then get better.

Again, I don’t want the Habs to rebuild. The Habs need to rebuild.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan, and follow @RabidHabs for more updates! 

One Comment

  1. Mark Kornack

    November 19, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Excellent article and I’m 100% onboard with rebuild as long as MB isn’t the one leading the charge. At the end of the day he lost any credo polity trading away PK.