Rabid Habs

The Forum: What’s Next For The Habs?

Habs' Brendan Gallagher

The Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated, celebrated Subban’s birthday, cleaned their lockers out and hit the links. While the 2014-2015 season has been put to bed, the speculation season is just starting up again! Today we ask, what’s next for the Habs?

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – Coming off the heels of Bergevin’s presser, it doesn’t sound like we can expect much in terms of changes. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to announce a bunch of hard-hitting changes today, but it certainly sounds like he’s comfy with the idea of growing the team together as is, coaching staff and all. I’m sure he intends to make some changes but we’ll have to wait to see what they are.

Zach (@ZachVanasse) – Wait and see? Wait and see?! Come on Kyle! The Habs’ season has been a thing of the past for days! It’s time for wild speculation, demands for sweeping changes and overreactions to a series in which the Habs mostly outplayed their competition!

What’s next for the Canadiens? Certain Fucking Doom if we don’t fire Therrien, trade half this team away and take a few players out behind the barn to give ’em the Old Yeller treatment.

Galchenyuk’s a bust. Markov’s a corpse. Plekanec is useless. Pacioretty isn’t clutch enough. And while we’re on the topic, Carey could be better.

It’s time to burn it down and start again, I think. An Eastern Conference Final appearance followed up by a closer-than-six-game-indicates Second Round loss in back-to-back seasons from one of the youngest teams in the NHL isn’t good enough!

Sure, the Habs may have a Hart, Vezina and Norris trophy candidate on the team… but we need more right now!

Patience is for the weak. The only thing patience has earned us thus far is the anointment of Price as the best goalie (player?) in the league, the rise of Subban as one of the most important blue liners in the game and more success in the past two season’s than we’d seen in any successive seasons since half of us can remember.

All Is Lost.

John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – I’m inclined to say I’d do the exact opposite of what the fans believe is best for the team. Sorry if this reads as “pointy stick,” but in listening to Bergevin’s press conference and then reading the feedback on Twitter, I honestly ask: What do fans expect?

The team this year was, on average, more than three years younger than last year’s team. The club introduced young players (Beaulieu/Pateryn/de la Rose) into key positions and responsibilities which will only grow going forward. There was a transition in leadership as the vacuum created with the departure of Gorges and Gionta was filled by PK and Max. All this considered, I thought the club had another very good season. Only four teams have more regular season wins since the NHL resumed following the most recent strike. Only four teams have more playoff wins. To suggest that Bergevin is failing is to completely ignore these results, not to mention the depth he has built at both the professional and amateur levels. So, in my opinion, what are the next steps? It begins with a thorough evaluation of every player and personnel (coaching, training, etc). After reflection and evaluation, begin the decision making process. It’s not just as easy as saying we will trade Emelin and/or Desharnais, Parenteau, etc. There has to be a buyer, contract status, etc. This is a process with many moving parts. In my opinion moves will unfold, in time. In the short term, focus must be on the draft. I hope opportunities will be afforded to two or more prospects to make next year’s team. I would also not be surprised if the team took a step back next year, only to leap forward in the following year. I believe that Bergevin is continuing to advance the organization closer to the goal of positioning themselves among the elite clubs who can contend for the Stanley Cup. Of course, every other club is driving towards the same goal and only one team can hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. So, I look forward to an eventful offseason and am interested in the Chucky contract, personnel decisions on defence (Markov and Emelin) and at centre (Desharnais and Plekanec). Mostly though, I’m curious to see who fills the void at RW in the top six.

Steph (@stephdarwish– I stopped listening to “fans” on call-in shows… only the most absurd tweets, emails, calls get taken.. My favourite? Trade Subban and Price for Malkin???? Whhhhaaaat?

I know this has been somewhat addressed, but getting Galchenyuk at centre, and capable at this position will go a long way.

Resigning Petry will be huge.

And then, if somehow, somewhere, some GM takes a bunch of crazy pills and wants to give away a big guy who can score for nothing, then great! Otherwise, I wouldn’t want Bergevin to move any major pieces.

Secret and crazy fantasy desire: I’d like to think Ovechkin is just done with Washington and losing a series where they are up, once again, 3-1. He comes back from the the Czech Republic where Russia once again didn’t win anything, and just decides he needs to win. He also decides Montreal is the place to do it, and so makes Brian MacLellan trade him away for nothing. Also, somehow, Bergevin finds a way to be able to keep all the core AND handle Ovechkin’s 9.5 million dollar cap hit 🙂

John (@RabidHabs_CJ) – After spending a few minutes (time well wasted) reading social media re: the Canadiens, I honestly wonder what fans believe they are entitled to? I can NOT believe the narrative that’s floating around suggesting that Bergevin has done nothing in three years. Do people honestly believe themselves when they write this? How many other teams in the league would gladly trade their standing for what the Habs have accomplished under Bergevin?

How many organizations have been better the past three years; five, maybe six? Sorry to extend this conversation but I’m quickly losing patience with some “fans.” I think it’s fair to critique decisions and lament losses, but how can someone so openly question the results when compared with our competition? That, in my humble opinion, is where folks allow emotion to take over for reality. Sure, I also want to see the PP click. Yes, I too want to see more goals, but let’s get real. Montreal plays by the same rules as every other franchise. We have deficiencies and we have strengths. There is so much parity in the game today that it has become difficult to elevate beyond the median. If the Habs are as terrible as some think, what does that say for the 20+ other franchises who have not enjoyed anywhere near the same success over the past three years? Respectfully, we had a great regular season, largely due to great health and great play from our three best players, our depth and an emergence of young prospects who adequately filled the roles of those departed players. We lost in the postseason to a very good team. We were a shot away from winning Game 1 and Game 3, hit 13 posts in the series and could have won the series just as easily as lost it. If that’s the definition of an “awful” season, maybe fans should give up and invest their time in something else where results are more easily obtained. This is hockey and winning, especially in the playoffs is not easy. Rant concluded….

Kyle (@kyleroussel) – Wait….are you suggesting that certain pockets of fandom have an unhealthy sense of entitlement????

Damon (@DTA23) – Don’t be so hard on the “fans.” Remember fan is short for fanatical. Of course we have had a great run the past few years, but the closer you come to reaching a goal the more it hurts and the more you want to make changes to get to the final goal the next year.

Which fan base feels worse: Oilers or Habs? I’d argue the Habs. As your team gets better and closer to winning it all, it becomes harder and harder to improve. It’s the law of diminishing returns.

The Oilers are closer to reaching our level than we are to winning the Cup. It’s pretty much legislated into all sports that going from terrible to average is pretty easy. Going from average to good is doable, but going from good to great is the hardest leap to make.

Right now most people want to use a butcher knife but what we need is a scalpel. I think Bergevin has done a very good job. I’m curious to see if he has the surgical precision needed to make the cuts and fixes necessary to make the team better at the margins.

The Stanley Cup run of 1993 was a long, long time ago. I’m not going to tell fans to bridle their passion and stop demanding sweeping changes. That’s what makes Montreal such a great hockey city. We have the weight of history on our backs causing us to have a very earned sense of entitlement.

Sometimes good enough is the enemy of great. Therrien is a good enough coach but maybe we need a great coach that will take us over the top. I look at what happened in the NBA where the Warriors fired their coach after he lead them to the most wins in 20 years, only to have the next coach come in and lead them to a franchise record in wins and the best record in the league and what looks like a championship this season.

John (@RabidHabs_CJ) –  I love the passion. I love the vested interest each and every fan has in the Montreal Canadiens. I too advocate change and want the missing pieces added to push this club to the next level. My comments are in response to those who suggest the Habs have been “awful” under Bergevin’s guidance. How can fans draw that conclusion? I kinda get the Oilers comment, but it’s based entirely on the fact that the organization is so bad that it has nowhere to go but up. Quite honestly, any Edmonton fan who believes that they’ve enjoyed more success in the last three years than Montreal is kidding nobody but themselves. Maybe the comment is meant to suggest that it’s so bad in Edmonton that fans have just become numb to the results, while in Montreal folks continue to live and die with every win or loss.

I like the butcher knife and scalpel illustration. It’s easy to suggest that major change is ahead, but given the constraints faced by GMs including salary cap, no movement clauses, free agency, etc., it’s entirely unlikely that more than a few changes are made this offseason. Best case scenario is that we can unload Emelin and Desharnais and bring in or promote from within to fill the voids. However, that’s extremely ambitious as it assumes a rival GM wants either player and their remaining term.

Lastly, in my humble opinion, coaches receive far too many accolades following victories and are subjected to far too many criticisms following losses. I’m not a Therrien fan. Never was. I hoped the Habs would have landed Bob Hartley 3 + years ago, but they didn’t. Should the Canadiens stumble, or should their PP continue to falter, then maybe we see changes, but at this point, we won’t see a change for the sake of change. Therrien and his staff, like the players, are accountable. Now as the organization enters its fourth year under Bergevin’s guidance, pressure will begin to rise as expectations grow. I’ve always believed that it takes five years for a leader to effectively place his stamp, his identity, on the organization. As the timeline narrows, we have begun to see the future inch closer. Ultimately this may result in a championship, but more likely we can hope to simply be championship calibre. After all, only one team reaches their goal, and in such a parity driven league results have never been more difficult.