Rabid Habs

The Forum: The Marc Bergevin Press Conference

With your Montreal Canadiens off for the bye week, Marc Bergevin held a press conference to address the current state of the Habs. Our contributors had some thoughts on the matter.

 

Ian Boisvert (@Boisvertian) – The easy answer is the Drouin stuff, right? This might be the first time Marc Bergevin has admitted to a player being used in a less-than-optimal way without any desire to change. Drouin is at centre because no one else can do it.

Now that seems rather inflammatory, but is it really?

That was the working assumption in August during the Habs annual golf tournament. “Here’s this guy that has played centre in the past. Galchenyuk didn’t work out, so he’s out only shot at filling a 25 year-old void.”

Or something like that. The organization is keeping a player in a sub-optimal position because they were unable to fill that position themselves. Not a good look.

A moment that I thought flew under the radar came when Bergevin was asked specifically about the slumps of Alex Galchenyuk.

Instead of throwing him under the bus, Bergevin said Galchenyuk wasn’t the only one. He threw Pacioretty’s name into the list, and refused to let any one player wear this team’s failures. Right now we’re somewhere in between “The answer is in the room” and “It’s on me,” and we’re leaning more towards the latter.

 

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – The Drouin thing is the easiest thing. It was nice of Bergevin to admit that it’s not quite working out as hoped, and that he’s only there because there are no other options. Good, so he knows that Drouin is better off at wing, which everyone knew from the start. But I find this unbelievable after nearly six years on the job. I mean, how on earth is it acceptable for a GM to NOT have a viable first line centre after several years on the job, when his team is in a “win now” mode? And to compound the issue, trading your top prospect for a winger that you *hoped* might fill that centre role? I’m not sure how Bergevin expected this to play out, but his work here has been very, very underwhelming to say the least.

Next up is the idea of not giving up on the season yet. It would be simple to say that they’re fooling themselves if they think grabbing one of those wildcard spots is possible, but by strict definition, it is *possible*. But let’s be honest; it’s really, really unlikely. If he had publicly pulled the plug on the season, a bunch of things happen:

  • the media feeding frenzy begins months earlier than scheduled
  • fans, who have had little reason to go to games begin choosing other options
  • fans who were hopeful become angry
  • fans who were angry become apathetic
  • fans who were apathetic say “told ya”
  • and Bergevin loses his job after the season ends

None of these things are ideal for Bergy, so he’s not going to say it, at least not publicly. Not seven weeks before the trade deadline. There are those of us who would have *loved* for him to pull the plug on the season, and sign his own death warrant. Those of us who are fed up with him would have spent the next few months licking our chops, waiting for the day that the axe falls, and we’d reconvene here to sing hallelujah. But we didn’t get that, and I think I’m okay with that. Since the official message from the Habs is still “hopeful”, hopefully the players respond, put up some numbers, thereby making themselves attractive assets to trade and fetch a healthy return at the deadline. This team needs a good retooling at the very least and I believe Bergevin knows that now. Whether he acts on it, and whether or not Molson lets him act on it is the big question.

Sean O’Neill (@TheONeillFactor) – I despise Marc Bergevin with a passion that borders on the unhealthy but, frankly, the mid-season press conference was much ado about nothing.

Short of offering a mea culpa on the PK trade, the Sergachev trade, and the Markov/Radulov fiasco and tendering his resignation, there is nothing Bergevin could have said at his presser that would have changed my opinion of him.

Similarly, Bergevin could have murdered a puppy on live TV then traded Carey Price for a 7th round pick, and his army of apologists would have given him a standing ovation on Twitter.

At this point, the battle lines have been drawn and neither side is backing down. In all my years as a Habs fan, there have been highs and lows, but I don’t remember the fan-base ever being this divided and this nasty (with the possible exception of the l’affaire Cunneyworth).

MB’s proclamation that he’s not throwing in the towel is meaningless, but also probably prudent with seven weeks to go before the trade deadline. However, if by some miracle of fate, this team with no centres, no puck-moving defencemen, poor coaching, and a zombie-eyed captain fails to make a playoff push between now and Feb 26th, I can only hope that our Dear Leader swallows his considerable pride for once and starts moving the team’s few remaining assets to get the rebuild underway.

Rob Hing (@RobHing) – What did I think of the Bergevin press conference?

For me, I wasn’t initially expecting much from a mid-season “state of the union” type address. I fully expected Bergevin to just deflect most questions and give a bunch of canned responses, so in that regard, I was quite intrigued by what happened. The conference opened up far more questions than I expected as Bergevin was far more engaging and open than we’ve seen him be over the past couple of seasons. To his credit, I thought his demeanour was a huge improvement over recent media addresses. He was far less combative and didn’t come off with his, as of late, usual air of arrogance. Perhaps this is an adjustment in tactics, or maybe some humility has finally settled in after a terrible offseason and regular season to date. Either way, it was refreshing.

As for the information itself, the one thing I wanted to know heading into the presser was what the Canadiens intentions were with Victor Mete. To this end, I got the answer I half expected and also feared. In my opinion, the argument for keeping Mete in the NHL past 40 games and burning one year of his UFA ineligibility is a very weak one. In a season where making moves to try to make the playoffs is a gamble at best, I don’t see how mortgaging that future contract advantage makes sense. And while the Habs could very well still decide to send Mete to Juniors, Bergevin very much made it sound like the Habs intention is to keep him here. So that wasn’t the news I wanted to hear.

But the big development from the press conference, of course, was Bergevin openly stating the Jonathon Drouin is not a natural centre. This was huge for a number of reasons. First, it opened Bergevin up to criticism from those who were already after him from the Sergachev trade and who speculated the only reason Drouin was playing centre was so that the Canadiens could defend the trade by saying they acquired a top centre. Second, it openly questioned a current player’s ability to play in the position that the team currently is asking them to play. And third, it was an open admission that Bergevin MAY have been wrong in his previous public remarks about Drouin; something that, as mentioned before, Bergevin has been reluctant to do in the past. So I, for one, was both surprised and pleased with the response regarding Drouin being more ideally suited for wing.

I’m of the opinion that Drouin’s game is more suited to the increased offensive freedom afforded him on the wing. That said, I’m not averse to him being tried at centre. What I was MORE concerned with was that the Habs would be stubborn about insisting Drouin play the position if, indeed, he proves after a full year there that it’s not the best way to maximize his value. I’m all for giving him the rest of the year to see if he can find the balance between the defensive responsibilities of playing centre and the offensive prowess that he obviously possesses. But I’m happy that Bergevin has opened the door for Drouin to move back to the wing. Contrast that to the stubbornness exhibited in the public messages he’s made about Alex Galchenyuk and his unwillingness to acknowledge what many people, myself included, believe – that Galchenyuk has proven that, when at his best, he’s capable of being a dominant point producing centre – and it’s hard to be anything but relieved at the increased likeliness that another young Habs forward will not be left in limbo for several of his important developing years. Of course, I also appreciated that Bergevin was even willing to make such a statement about his beliefs; one that opened himself up to the questions I mentioned previously. That’s what I believe good leadership is; full of opinions, but open to being wrong and not afraid to admit it and change courses when required. So in that sense, his comments gave me more hope about the possible future of the club with Bergevin at the helm (which, in my opinion, is what we’re going to have whether one likes it or not).

The biggest question, though, with the Drouin revelation is this: what the heck are the Habs going to do!?!? According to Bergevin, the Habs have no real centres for either of their top two lines. Some might argue Phillip Danault could play the second line centre, but…..let’s just say, you’re not winning that argument with me. So if Galchenyuk is not a centre (Bergevin’s words, not mine) and Drouin is not a centre…then the Canadians are in need of THREE hard to find players: two top 6 centres and a top pairing defenceman. They’re in BIG trouble. They’re missing 3 of the 4 most important players on any successful team (Top 2 C, 1PMD and G) and the GM is admitting that he has put the club in a situation where, after 6 years, there is a still a LOT of work to be done. That’s a stunning admission. With that said, it’s the position the club is in and it’s better to have a GM willing to admit it than one pretending the club is something that it isn’t.

There’s still a LONG way to go for the Habs and I’m not convinced Bergevin is capable of doing the job, nor that he should be even given the opportunity. With that said, as mentioned, I have fully accepted that he WILL be the GM going into next season at the very least, so any sign that there’s hope is one I’ll take. And for me, the press conference was at least a sign of the POSSIBILITY that Bergevin is capable of learning from his mistakes, recognizing the issues and maybe starting to get things back on track.

One Comment

  1. Bay_Bye

    January 12, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    the problem is MB has done nothing to help this team since he took over..he hired a coach that said if he were coach PK would be gone and he is…he traded another future Norris winner for a winger so he could play center which he can’t…..he hired a coach who has lost the locker room and can not coach this team…he re-hired an AHL coach who can’t develop players. he created an 1980 defense that can’t do the job in 2018…got a Captain who has disappeared…he has destroyed a legacy and can’t seem to admit it or see it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *