Marc Bergevin: A Man and His Plan

| January 14, 2014

By Joce, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

Those who know me well also know that I’m not François Gagnon’s biggest fan but I can certainly recognize when he does some good work. He recently interviewed Montreal Canadiens’ Executive Vice President and General Manager, Marc Bergevin, text published on RDS.ca, he was able to ask the right questions. I suggest you read the article if you understand French (you can read his significant quotes below, already translated for you.)

bergevinplan 300x225 Marc Bergevin: A Man and His Plan

PENTICTON, BC. — Bergevin is a smart man, with a vision and in every interview, at every press conference, it’s easy to recognize that he knows where he’s going with his team and he has the ability to resist temptation in order to stay on target with his goal, which is to build a winner for years to come. He understands the value of draft picks and good prospects’ development, as proven by his comments.

“If we had 10, 12 or 15 more points in the standings, maybe I would be thinking of altering my plan. I said maybe. But as happy as I am to be where we are in the standings, I know very well that three, four or five losses in a row would bring us around the eighth place. And we should be panicking then either. There are very good teams losing three or four in a row in the NHL today. It’s so tight that I have no right, as a GM, to jeopardize the future of the team for short term help. Especially that at the start of the season, we figured that we would be part of a group of teams fighting until the end for a playoffs’ spot.”

Realism, refusing to get carried away by a winning streak (or losing streak), understanding that an NHL season is long and that anything can happen. We can understand why Serge Savard and Geoff Molson picked Bergevin and it goes a lot further than the fact that he’s bilingual.

But fans are too often impatient, especially in Montreal where we were spoiled in the past, where the fans had to suffer through a couple of decades of bad decisions without any serious hope for a Stanley Cup. We lose patience and we want it now! Everything is analysed, scrutinised, we want a big trade, a big name.

“A blockbuster is nice, but how many did you see this year? And last year? I think that the last big trade that changed the image of both teams involved was three years ago (June 23 2011) when the Flyers and the Kings traded Mike Richards and young (Brayden) Schenn and (Wayne) Simmonds. My stamp on the team will be the youth that will make it. (Brendan) Gallagher, (Alex) Galchenyuk and (Michaël) Bournival are here. (Jarred) Tinordi, (Nathan) Beaulieu and other good young players are developing in Hamilton. They will be here one day. Let’s not forget about the other ones that I went to watch at the World Junior Championship. It will take longer, it’s true. Because the road to Montreal for those young guys will need a detour through Hamilton. And it’s okay that way. Because what we are building, we are building on a strong foundation. We are building for long term. I’ve never seen a young guy being brought up too late on an NHL team. But I’ve often seen very good young players being brought up too soon and wasting their talent and their career. I’m hoping that our fans understand that.”

For those who take the time to listen to Bergevin, we can easily see that he’s been saying the same thing since day one, when he was given the position of GM. He preaches patience, he has carefully analysed the prospects and he know the core, as much for the current team as for what’s in the minors. He knows that there are holes to fill and he is having discussions with other GMs around the league. But he won’t panic. If he makes a trade, it will be to improve his team not only for the short term, but for the future.

“If you’re asking me if I talk to other GMs, it’s evident. We talk every day. Some names are mentioned from time to time. But does that mean that a trade is imminent? Absolutely not. It’s my responsibility to improve the team. I look at every way of doing it. But in my eyes, it’s by the draft and development that the big improvements occur. Not with flash fixes. “

Because he says building through the draft, some fans question the acquisitions he’s made this past summer. Bergevin still wants to give the fans a good product immediately while keeping an eye on his team’s future. A hot topic has been the one of local product Daniel Brière, who signed a two-year contract worth four million per season, and who has had more than his share of difficulties.

BriereHabs 300x176 Marc Bergevin: A Man and His Plan

“We were expecting more from Daniel. It’s evident. Many factors slowed him down in the first half of the season. The adaptation is slower than I expected. The good news is that Daniel normally is a slow starter. I really think that he will turn things around in the second half and that he will be a precious asset in the playoffs. Look at what happened with David (Desharnais) and Max (Pacioretty) at the start of the season. Things didn’t go well at all. We trusted them. Michel worked with them. We gave them the chances and time to get out of their slumps. I’m anticipating the same thing with Daniel.”

He recognizes that the Brière topic is sensitive and that he hasn’t produced to expectations. He admits that up until now, it looks like the signature is a mistake but he remains positive and hopes that his player gets out of it. Whether he thinks it or not is not important as he supports his player in front of the media, while acknowledging that he can give more. But when we talk about Douglas Murray and George Parros, Bergevin changes tone when some suggest that they were mistakes.

“I sometimes wonder if people thought that we were acquiring super-stars in Murray and Parros. We needed a big defensive and experienced defenseman to help solidify our defense. We needed to add some weight on the fourth line to face the bigger, tougher teams. Murray is giving us exactly what we expected of him. In Parros’ case, injuries kept him from giving us what we expected. We wanted a guy who would dress from time to time, playing a couple of times per period. George would have given us that had he not gotten injured.”

As far as I’m concerned, it’s hard to go against what Bergevin is saying. The Habs could have kept Tinordi with the team but as he mentions in the article, he wants to ensure that he develops well so that he’s fully ready when we call on him. Same thing for Beaulieu and other prospects. Better playing big minutes in the minors than playing very little in the NHL and the organization is convinced that everyone will benefit from it at the end.

So, dear fans, unless an offer comes up that he can’t refuse, an offer that would improve the team for many years, don’t hold your breath for a big trade and even less for a big name rental player. Read rumours if you must but please, keep your feet well-grounded before raising your hopes up and listen to the GM’s words. He’s the one deciding.

I’ve been asked recently if Bergevin will be a buyer or a seller at the trade deadline on March 5th. I believe that he will be neither. If he gets an offer that makes sense hockey-wise, he will do it but I highly doubt, according to his own saying, that he will sell-out his pending UFAs or that he would trade his picks and/or prospects to get some temporary help.

En français: Marc Bergevin : Un homme et son plan

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About the Author ()

Habsterix is a fictional character created for the sole purpose of the internet. Based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule, his magic potion is his passion for the Montreal Canadiens. How old is he? His close friends will tell you that he’s so old, his back goes out more than he does! He was born when Béliveau lifted the Cup and remembers the days when seeing the Habs winning was not a wish, it was an expectation. For him, writing is a hobby, not a profession. Having moved to beautiful British Columbia in 1992, he started writing mostly in French to keep up his grammar, until non-bilingual BC friends pushed him into starting his own English Blog. His wife will say that he can be stubborn, but she will be the first to recognise that he has great sense of humour. He is always happy to share with you readers his point of views on different topics, and while it is expected that people won’t always agree, respect of opinions and of others is his mission statement.

Comments (8)

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  1. jon says:

    The guy to trade is pleks…he’s at peak value NOW, we wont win with him for at least 3 yrs by which time he is next to worthless. Now is the time…it allows galchenyuk, eller more time at center…it saves cap space, and it lets us draft higher for a year or 2 because we will be slightly worse off without pleks… which is part of the plan.

    This is the courageous move bergevin ought to be making.

  2. Jacques says:

    I disagree jon. The point is not to trade just to trade, but to look at it in a cost/benefit analysis. What would we get in a trade, versus what is out cost in trading him. It would cost us a reliable center with great value/playing ability, it costs development/safety for the younger centers as they are thrust into bigger playing roles/bigger criticism (neither eller or gally have shown the ability to replace pleks right now), it costs points for the team as they work towards the playoffs, it costs stability, it costs team/organization unity/trust as a stalwart Canadien is traded away while playing very good hockey. The benefit in a trade has to match and better these costs. I don’t believe good organizations should treat their players like this unless the return is just spectacular because I believe it is good organization/team policy that even the traded player understands why he was traded.

  3. jon says:

    We disagree. What I am proposing IS a cost benefit. Pleks is 31 yrs old, making 5.5, and in reality, is a number 2 center. DD is our number 1, eller 3…pleks is2 right now, but galchenyuk NEEDS to play center now and he can acclimatize perfectly well, and eller needs to see more minutes too. Peks will be worth next to nothing in 3 yrs within which we will not have won a cup…I agree he is a wonderful 2 way center, however, we can benefit greatly by getting back say an evander kane for pleks, or something similar…maybe a wayne simmonds and someone…the point is, it makes this team better in 2-3 yrs whereas if we keep pleks, in 2-3 yrs he’s worth less and we wont have won a thing…the young guys don’t need pleks to mentor them at this point…they have learned a lot already and will continue to without pleks…losing pleks now returns a lot like a kane perhaps, allows our young centers to play more minutes, saves cap space, and, allows us tp presumably draft higher for a year or 2. It is logical…this is a business. Or do you think keeping pleks will lead us to a cup within 3 yrs? just curious…

  4. jon says:

    one other thing…trading pleks for say evander kane, you now could have 2 big wingers with DD (paccioretty and kane) and what a line that could be….it allows Gallagher to move back with galchenyuk…which creates more balance and chemistry through the lineup.

  5. I’m a bit torn about Plekanec. The guys is painted as a true professional on and off the ice. He’s a good guy who works hard and gives his best. Fast skater, he’s the team’s best penalty killer. I only wish his faceoffs’ percentage was in the 54-57% and he’d be a Selke nominee.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to trading him if/when Therrien and Bergevin see fit to play Galchenyuk at center, especially if Eller can step into Plekanec’s role. But I would want something substantial for him. Either a genuine Top 6 winger with grit or a right handed Top 4 defenseman. Ultimately, if it makes the team better, I’m all for it but I don’t trade him just to save cap space.

  6. nbhab says:

    Thanks Joce,
    Interesting stuff.
    New management has done very well overall.

    Even if the Habs go 82-0, there will critics saying that the team is too old, too small or too slow to win a cup and should, fire the GM and trade everyone but the waterboy.

    So his talk of patience and more long term goals is refreshing and encouraging.

    All 3 2nd year d-men in Hamilton are slowly improving.
    Tinordi’s confidence seemed shaken when he was sent down and took him a while before he started to play physical again.
    Pateryn is simply being asked by Hab management to “be more aggressive, finish his checks and protect the house better” (as Lapointe put it). But he is doing well and had a super open ice hit 2 games ago, so maybe he is embracing a more aggressive game?
    Beaulieu simply needs more strength and conditioning and gets pushed off the puck every game. But he has been very involved offensively lately and he finished strong last year so maybe his offensive game will
    shine and if he starts piling up points, he may even have a chance at March call-up?

    But all three kids should benefit playing the 22 more Bulldog games on schedule till end of Feb and the longer the Habs d-core can stay healthy the better, which now is just the Olympic break.

  7. jon says:

    completely agree…I would never trade pleks for just cap space…not at all how I see it..I ONLY trade him if it makes this team much better in 1-2 yrs. someone like kane would help that along in our development into a cup contender…and right now, were far from that…there are 5-7 guys we’re gonna have to turn over in the next 2 yrs…

  8. Mike says:

    I think building with draft picks is fine.When you are picking 15-25 you have to be lucky. Teams like Pens,Hawks etc finished at or near the bottom for years. Then your getting the best picks. Habs have not draftted well in 20 years. I agree draft is important but siging & trading is also important. MB said we have to get bigger then he signs DD & Briere, Trades for Thomas & Drafts 3 guys under 5’10. This is not geting bigger & that worries me. I just wish he does what he says. I am a long time Habs fan 65 years. After Gainey & Gauthier with their 5 year plans I worry.