Rabid Habs

The Forum: Don’t Fire Marc Bergevin

It’s no secret that the majority of our contributors would like to see Marc Bergevin shown the door, but we had to ask them, if their life depended on it, could they make the case for the Montreal Canadiens keeping Marc Bergevin on as general manager?

 

Rob Hing (@robhing) – Well for the record, I’m not desperate for Bergevin to be fired as I mentioned in a post about a month ago. I’m desperate for him, and Molson, to show they’ve learned from their mistakes. I already made the case for keeping Bergevin previously, but it’s contingent on the proof of this growth. What does that look like? Simple.

It looks like Lefevbre being fired and replaced. It looks like Daignault and Lacroix being fired and replaced. It looks like whoever is responsible for the pro scouting decisions that have resulted in the last 12 months of work being fired and replaced. It looks like hiring a president of hockey ops to help oversee club decisions and hiring a new PR team to reconsider all the little measures than have antagonized fans. It looks like moving guys who no longer fit in the current NHL (Benn, Alzner) and not bringing anymore in. It looks like making moves in the future that don’t sacrifice talent for “character.” And it looks like publicly stating your awareness of all the previous mistakes, naming them (at least in general terms) and explaining how you are going to make sure things are going to be different. If MB does the majority of these things I’m totally okay with him having another shot. If not? Time to go, Marc. Time to go.

 

Ian Boisvert (@BoisvertIan) – I don’t really think Bergevin can screw up the first part of this rebuild. One of his most one-sided trade victories was a rebuild-type trade: Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann out, Phillip Danault and a 2018 2nd round pick. I would argue that this is Bergevin’s best trade. It’s certainly impossible to argue that he lost it. The weeks ahead of the trade deadline are pretty self-explanatory. Get picks, prospects and young NHLers for aging bodies. While the sample size is small, Bergevin has proven that he is capable of doing this. This season, Tomas Plekanec is the Canadiens’ only true rental and Bergevin needs to capitalize on his value while selling some other aging bodies.

With the plan for a rebuild/retool/reset in place, Bergevin might be held back from one of his more fatal flaws; trading youth. Bergevin’s worst deals fall under the “win now” banner. If I’m Geoff Molson, I am telling Bergevin the following: Don’t trade picks, don’t trade prospects, and don’t trade young roster players. With Molson (hopefully) striking this tone from the top of the organization, it’s possible that Bergevin has a renaissance of sorts. We forget that Bergevin inherited a team that finished in the bottom three of the league. While that team under-performed and dealt with a rash of injuries, they weren’t awful; at least the core wasn’t. I think Bergevin got swept up in the success of that first season and had an inflated vision of what this team was. He probably thought the team was only one move away from being contenders when they were probably much further away.

If he hits the reset button on his tenure with the Habs, let’s the proper reset take its course and doesn’t jump the gun, he might be able to turn this team around.

 

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – I’m going to echo sentiments from both Rob and Ian. I’d love to see Bergy follow through on many items from Rob’s checklist…but I don’t know if his ego and pride allow for that sort of admission of failure. IF Bergy can demonstrate that his previous plan hasn’t worked, and that they need to look to a better future – one built on skill, speed and scoring – then I can live with him coming back. But a LOT of personnel changes MUST happen. The AHL staff – gone. Daigneault & Lacroix – gone. Reassessing scouting at all levels is a must. I’d love to see a president installed, but I don’t see that happening. Molson loves being that guy, and any president would look more like Corey and Boivin rather than Shanahan, in my opinion. On top of that, my fear is that there’s such immense, constant pressure on Molson to please shareholders every year, that a true rebuild plan with no playoffs for a couple years is a non-starter.

From behind the podium, I want to see full transparency: “We screwed up. Our plan hasn’t worked, and we see that it relied on too many ‘ifs’ falling in our favour. There’s more than one way to win at this level, but there’s a clear trend in the NHL towards skill and scoring, and we have not followed that trend as closely as we should have. We will fix that going forward. Our #1 goal going to into every season is to make the playoffs and go from there. For the next couple of seasons, we will focus on bringing top talent in to our development system and focus on surrounding them with the best staff possible. While we still plan to be competitive, our focus for contention is in the next 2-3 years”. Something like that. I’d welcome this philosophy, and I’m sure most fans would as well, rather than the same old BS of trying to have their cake and eat it, too.

We have to see some sort of concerted plan to clear out dead wood, as well as peaking assets for the sake of the future. I do not want to see Plekanec re-signed (as rumours suggest is possible), even for a 1-year, 2M deal. That would signal to me that they see Pleks as a 3C and Danault as a 2C, and that would be proof enough that they’ve lost the plot entirely. Will Pacioretty be dealt? He needs to be, if a restocking is to happen. Weber’s injury may keep him from even being shopped, and that’s unfortunate. But hey, there’s always the draft where there’s lots of wheeling and dealing. The next few weeks will spell out everything. If they stand pat, Bergevin has to go at season’s end. If they sell, and net some great assets, then maybe we ought to entertain the idea of Bergevin staying. He’s not shy of big deals and not shy to make moves. He’s not an idiot, and I have to believe he now sees what many others, including many of us have been warning about for a couple of years now.

At the end of the day, there aren’t many viable replacements, so this is a great exercise in rationalization and acceptance!

Wheeeee!

 

Sean O’Neill (@TheONeillFactor) – Bergevin is a decent GM when he’s making depth moves or tinkering around the margins, and an abject disaster when he swings for the fences on one of his ego-fueled, franchise altering debacles.

Rightly or wrongly, the Habs seem to be under the impression that this season was a fluke and that this team can contend in 2018-2019 with a couple of tweaks. I happen to disagree with this notion – the Habs roster is old, poorly constructed, and trending downwards.

A full rebuild is needed and I have zero confidence that this front-office can pull it off. I do, in a weird way, have some confidence that they’ll do a good enough job re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic and delaying the inevitable for another season.

 

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – The best argument I can make for keeping Marc Bergevin beyond this season is David Poile.

These days we all know Poile as the general manager behind the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Nashville Predators. Polie has been the Predators GM since 1998. For 15 years he oversaw a team that was relatively competitive considering the market they played in and the budget at his disposal, but really didn’t do much of anything substantial. The reality is, until last season’s appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, the Predators had never won consecutive playoff round, never playing beyond the second-round. In fact, in Poile’s 40 years as an NHL GM or assistant-GM, his teams have only made it out of the second round twice. Two times in 40 years!

In the stretch between Nashville’s rise to the near top, Poile had traded away a ton (i.e. Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, 1st rd. pick and 3rd rd. pick) for a deceased Peter Forsberg, signed Shea Weber to a potentially crippling contract, acquired Andrei Kostitsyn from Montreal for a 2nd and 3rd, assessed Mike Ribeiro as “worth it,” signed an aging goalie to a $7-million per season deal, missed or miscalculated on Radulov a few times, and let Ryan Suter walk for nothing.

“A critical season in the history of the Predators ends in thorough disappointment and invites more questions than answers about their future” – that’s Pierre Lebrun writing about the Nashville Predators after the Coyotes bounced the team in the first round of the playoffs five years ago.

My point is, people learn on the job. Poile was able to operate in relative obscurity and with zero expectations in Tennessee for 15 years before finally figuring out how to build his juggernaut. What if the mistake the Canadiens – and every other Canadian team – keeps making is the refusal to let anyone learn in the position.

Gun to my head, might there not be some value in letting Marc Bergevin learn from his mistakes, instead of bringing in someone else who has to learn the lessons MB has now learned for themselves all over again? Maybe.

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