Rabid Habs

The Forum: What Should Geoff Molson Do Now?

Looking at your Montreal Canadiens current situation, we asked our contributors would they would do now – and going forward – if they were Geoff Molson.

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – I already talked through my process on a recent episode of The Recency Bias podcast, but to recap, if I’m Geoff Molson, I go to Marc Bergevin and say:

“Look, what we’re doing here, it didn’t work and we’ve come to the end of the road on this batch. We’ve traded a firebrand superstar, we’ve fired a head coach after doubling down in the fox hole, we’re in year six of your five-year plan, and we’re headed for the bottom. Time to take this apart. Based on how you do in that, we’ll re-evaluate your future with the organization at season’s end.”

Then I’d instruct him to get every bit of value from what this team has to offer in the interest of contending again some time in the Carey Price Era. I doubt Molson will instruct Bergevin on how to do that exactly – but I would – and here’s how I see it:

Trade this season/ahead of draft

Max Pacioretty
Shea Weber
Jeff Petry
Andrew Shaw
Tomas Plekanec
Karl Alzner (pipe dream, but even if for nothing)

Use all that cap space to take on a few expiring trash contracts in exchange for picks.

Keep:

Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk
Jonathan Drouin
Phil Danault
Paul Byron
Artturi Lehkonen
Charles Hudon
Carey Price

And to be totally honest, if someone was willing to give you a truly valuable and possibly franchise affecting return, I don’t even take Carey Price off the table if it means a proper reboot.

Dark times.

 

Sean O’Neill (@TheONeillFactor) – 2017 was an eventful year; a white supremacist is systemically undermining American democracy and bringing the world to the edge of nuclear winter. There was a movie about emojis. There were aliens. Lost in all of the hullabaloo, it would have been easy to miss this little tidbit, in which researchers from UBC and the University of Maryland outlined the feasibility of time travel, possibly within our lifetimes.

If I’m Geoff Molson, I’m investing every last penny of my vast family fortune in flux capacitors which will allow me to travel back in time to June 29, 2016. The Trade was always going to be an unmitigated disaster that would define the Habs for years to come but, as our new friend Rob Hing outlined in a Twitter thread for the ages, Bergevin has compounded the disaster through a series of increasingly desperate moves. The darkest timeline became a reality a lot quicker than any of us anticipated.
So, in the short term, the Habs are kind of fucked. The roster, as currently constructed, is underwhelming and ill-fitting. There’s a ton of cap space, but no difference-makers available via trade or free agency that could single-handedly alter the trajectory of the franchise. The prospect pool is middling. Our forward group is talented but out-of-synch. Our defence is a mess. Our world-class (and injury prone) goalie can’t do it all himself. There are rumours that the Habs employ a perennial 30-goal scorer (and even game him the C) but I’ve yet to see any proof of this.
Marc Bergevin hasn’t been right about a lot during his tenure, but he was correct when he said “It’s on me.” This is on you Bergie – this entire depressing, dumpster-fire of a season is on you. The path back towards contention might be long and painful, but if I’m Geoff Molson, my top priority is making sure that the egomaniac responsible for this disaster isn’t responsible for the rebuild.

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – If I’m Geoff Molson, I’m spitting nails, and kicking myself. Here’s what I’d be thinking if I’m Geoff Molson:

“I hired Marc Bergevin in 2012, from the shallow end of the pool, believing that I found a gem. I believed in him, and ultimately gave him the reigns through 2022. Things have been up and down, but we’ve never come close to delivering the team that fans want. I’ve let him dump his first coach, and hire another, who has not shown any improvement at all. Has he forgotten how to coach? I, along with pretty much everyone else thought he was an elite coach. Anyway, I’ve okayed the payout of millions for the fired guy to stay home. I’ve sunk 100 million into Bell Centre renovations, I’ve built a new arena in Laval…I need playoff revenue to satisfy my stakeholders. I thought I had a team to give it to me in spades, year-over-year.

Then came a series of controversial moves, all of which have backfired. I resisted trading Subban, and finally relented in 2016. The return has been ok. Not really part of the problem, but how much of a part of the solution is  Weber when we’re already seeing injury problems arise. Will he hold up through the duration of the contract? Will he even be effective? To be honest, I’m skeptical.

Let’s see, what else have we got here. Oh! We let a stalwart D-man go. A guy who was a handful shy of 1,000 career games – all with us. Gone! For nothing! Still not sure I understand this one, considering there was no plan B to replace his skill set. We also let an offensive spark-plug go…again, for nothing. We struggle to score as it is, and the guy eventually signed elsewhere at a reasonable term. Shhh! We scrambled to make it look like he chose Dallas over us, but between us, our dithering cost us a terrific player that we couldn’t really afford to lose.

Marc has also presided over the ruin of his signature draft choice in Alex Galchenyuk. Sure, the player bears some responsibility in his stagnation, but our management and coaching staffs have routinely thrown this kid under the bus. Not sure I get this one, to be honest. If the hockey people have decided that he’s not part of the plan, then why not polish the apple to maximize the return? Definitely puzzled by this one. After we decided that he was ill-suited to play C the way we want him to, we dealt our only sure-thing prospect for a home-town kid to fill that void at C. Problem is, he’s not a C, either. Somehow we’ve ran two experiments to land a top C, and neither have panned out yet. Ouch.

Moving along, word has gotten out that we’re looking at trading our underachieving, disengaged captain. Again, why are we shopping a prime asset when it’s at it’s lowest value? Boy, the more I think about what’s going on here, the less I like it.

The way this season has played out so far, the playoffs are looking grim. I’m really not pleased, but I’m not sure what else I expected in retrospect? We’re punchless up front. Invisible at C. We can’t score at even strength, or on the powerplay (I thought Muller was supposed to fix that?) Do I need someone else in the organization between myself and Marc? A President, maybe? Not a money guy like Pierre Boivin, by the way. A hockey guy. Can we have that in this environment? Let me think about that one and get back to you.

But Marc did promise that he’d build this team through the draft, so let me look at our prospect poo….WHAT THE???!?! There’s nothing there! McCarron? Julssen? Scherbak? Some nice names, but no game breakers. Ouch. Poehling looks exciting at the World Juniors…I guess that’s a start? But after SIX EFFING YEARS, I thought we’d be a little further along than “that’s a start”. Man, oh man. Things are kind of a mess here. What am I going to do.

I’ve got to take a step back here. Since I fish for employees in the shallow end, I need to bide my time. There’s nothing there right now. I can’t trust Bergevin to fix this mess. He’s shown an inability to manage effectively, so I need a replacement. Do I let him go, give Rick Dudley the interim tag and let them move out some aging or stagnant assets? What a scary prospect but we need to do something. The fans are not only angry, they’re apathetic. I remember getting tons of tweets from fans saying this would happen. And it has. We have to show them that we’re paying attention, and ready to ice a team built to succeed in 2018. It’s going to hurt like hell to enter this phase, but we need to do it. We need help. Pray for us.”

 

Claudio D’Andrea (@cdbytor) – The first and only business is to fire Bergevin. There’s no point talking about trading Pacioretty, or anyone else, until you put together a proper management team that can lead the rebuilding of this woeful team.

Kyle hits the nail on the head when he says, “The fans are not only angry, they’re apathetic.”

Hell, I’ve become apathetic — almost too apathetic to check in on scores, read up on the team, care about them. Even pitching in my two-cents worth by participating in this discussion with such a fine bunch of folks is taking too much energy.

If apathy leads to fans staying away from games and avoiding buying Habs merchandise, then the money will talk and Molson will have no choice but to act.

Cheers and let’s all look forward to 2043! By then the Habs will be going on 50 years without a Cup and, maybe by then, they’ll be a contender again.

 

Rob Hing (@robhing ) – So here’s my take; I can understand the reluctance to fire Bergevin. First, as a businessman, Molson is thinking “that’s a LOT of money to pay someone to not work for me.”

Second, as I mentioned on a thread on Twitter, I can see how he might look at the job MB did prior to the PK trade and say, “he’s shown that he’s capable of doing a decent job. Maybe he can recover?”. In my opinion, as bad as Bergevin has been in recent times, his actions alone are not the biggest CURRENT issue and not the most pressing one that Molson needs to address.

When Molson took over the club, he inherited a terrible GM (Gauthier) who created a whole slew of problems (Cammalleri-gate, firing Perry Pearn, appointing Randy Cunneyworth, etc. Not to mention I’m convinced it was really Gauthier, and not Gainey, who made the call on the Gomez trade. But I digress as it’s not pertinent to this conversation.)

Anyway, when he finally fired Gauthier and began the search for a new GM, he made something REALLY important ABUNDANTLY clear: he knows nothing about running a hockey club. He admitted as much when he brought Serge Savard in to essentially lead the search and “help him make the selection” (code for “make the decision for me”). Despite his lack of knowledge and ability to run a club, though, he maintained his self appointed role of President of the club. THAT’S the issue.

Marc Bergevin has revealed he’s capable of making some good hockey decisions and some really bad hockey decisions. I think even the best hockey minds can make bad decisions, especially when surrounded with people who do not challenge their line of thinking or keep them in check when they’re going down a questionable path. If the Habs had a President who was not part of Bergevin’s circle of trust, who Molson could trust to appropriately question and/or approve all decisions made by the GM, a lot of the mistakes made over the past two years could have probably been avoided.

So basically, to answer the question “What Should Geoff Molson Do Now?,” there are obviously two possible paths with regards to his current GM: fire him or retain him. But the thing he MUST do, regardless of which path he chooses, is to find and hire a proper president of hockey operations. A GM can NOT have unchecked control of a hockey team. It just doesn’t work. A job that has thatmuch uncertainty, variance, and essentially guesswork, needs to be overseen by someone with the experience and capability to appropriately question decisions so that no big decisions are made in haste. So that’s my answer. Hire a president. And let him decide what Bergevin’s fate is.

 

Damon Thomas-Anderson (@DTA23) – My first time commenting on this thread since The Trade (can this be a thing?). If I’m Molson, I get rid of MB. He’s the worst kind of mistake maker, an arrogant and prideful one. The Habs are an irrelevant team on the ice. The media and history of the franchise will always make them a story but in terms of actual on ice production they are irrelevant.

MB has to go! You can’t trust the guy who made terrible decisions to now correct them. The fact of the matter is the Habs are headed to rock bottom and I don’t trust MB to lead the dismantling and subsequent rebuild and furthermore he doesn’t deserve the opportunity.

Interesting anecdote from the manager of the lululemon near the Habs practice facility. He described MB as a space cadet incapable of making decisions. He spent 10 minutes second between two pairs of pants. When he was asked credit or debit he said debit, only to then give the cashier a credit card, which he followed by not inserting correctly in the machine. He then returned to the store saying he forgot to pick up something the last time and when asked what he could no longer remember what he had come to the store for. This is the man being tasked with leading a historic franchise.

Get him out of here.

Let’s Make The Habs Great Again!

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