For a guy who said he was happy to see the holidays arrive, Marc Bergevin did not look tired yesterday. On the contrary, he was playful as we had not seen him for a long time. He spoke over and over again. He apologized for his mistakes in French. He was still on adrenaline. You could tell he had the satisfaction of a job well done. He seemed liberated.
Bergevin has not been idle for the past six weeks. To use his words, he ticked all the boxes corresponding to the four mandates he had given himself at the end of the season and even more.
He has given contract extensions to Brendan Gallagher and Jake Allen. He secured the services of Josh Anderson for several seasons after securing him from the Columbus Blue Jackets in return for Max Domi.
No one expected such a metamorphosis. Especially not when COVID-19 stormed our lives last March.
The Canadian was virtually eliminated from the playoffs. Bergevin had carried out a workforce liquidation. The fans were angry. They were asking for heads.
It didn’t work anymore.
The sequence of events allowed the Habs to get a chance to redeem themselves. Something happened then that no one had anticipated at the Stanley Cup tournament.
The team haven’t really done miracles, but some players have presented themselves in a different light. Carey Price was sublime, Nick Suzuki dominant, Jesperi Kotkaniemi impressive.
It was another team that we had in front of us.
Thanks to Gary Bettman
Yesterday, a journalist asked Bergevin if he thought it would have been possible for him to go and find the players he obtained without his team playing the two confrontations between the Penguins and the Flyers, in August in Toronto.
The question was a good one.
Bergevin replied that it was hard to say.
But, let’s face it, yes, the damn COVID has served the cause of the Canadiens.
Geoff Molson and Bergevin can say thank you to Gary Bettman for the formula he has put forward for the playoffs.
The ingredients are there
The Canadian are a better team today. His supporters have regained hope. They would like the season to start now.
Bergevin too, but he is careful not to get carried away.
“I always try to set myself modest expectations,” he replied to the first reporter who asked him how he sees the next seasons.
“But still,” I asked him.
“You can be successful,” said Bergevin.
“We don’t just form a fast team. We have other advantages. You can win in different ways. We have big defenders who have
character. We have a balanced attack.
“We can cause surprises, but we will wait for the results. “
No right to miss the playoffs
Except this time around, fans will be entitled to expect a lot more than the Canadiens have given them over the past five years.
Let’s wait before talking about the Stanley Cup. But the Habs will not have the right to miss the series. He will be able to fight on a more even basis with his rivals in the Eastern Conference. He will have to impose his law on the Bell Center.
The pressure will be even heavier on the shoulders of Claude Julien. He will no longer be able to say that he has to deal with the elements he has at hand.
Bergevin gave him a caliber auxiliary goaltender, a heavyweight defenseman, a power forward and an opportunistic scorer.
It’s not nothing.
There is only one hitch left.
The damn COVID!
I have known Marc Bergevin long enough to say that he is both funny and emotional. He gave good copy when he was a player. He didn’t hide to say what he was thinking.
It is this man that I saw again yesterday by videoconference. It was he who spoke of his mistakes in French. He said he knew he should have said “select” instead of ” select “ when he announced the selection of Kaiden Guhle as the Canadiens’ first choice in the recent draft.
Bergevin attributed his error to the fact that he often had to speak in English. It is not a valid excuse. But Bergevin said he would try to be careful in the future and do his best.
That he seek advice from Paul Wilson, vice-president communications of Groupe CH. He is there for that.
Like tortorella with st-louis
And what about the vibrant tribute he paid to Brendan Gallagher? It’s rare for a general manager or coach to speak of a player with as much emotion as Bergevin did for the striker.
John Tortorella, who can be hateful in his spare time, had infinite respect for Martin St-Louis. And it was mutual.
Tortorella was among the guests of honor when the Tampa Bay Lightning retired number 26 in honor of St. Louis.
Bergevin became very sensitive when he spoke about Gallagher yesterday.
Was he afraid to see him set sail next year?
Because listening to him on Tuesday, the negotiations he was leading with Gerry Johansson, Gallagher’s agent, seemed to have taken a bad turn.
Johansson said there was a misunderstanding within minutes of confirming the deal on Wednesday, which Bergevin corroborated yesterday.
What was it ?
Mystery and gumdrop.
But it was not the CEO speaking as Bergevin praised Gallagher. He was the former player.
“I know,” Bergevin agreed. I would have liked to play with him. He’s a really special player. “