LAVAL, QC. — Canadiens owner, Geoff Molson, and General Manager, Marc Bergevin, met with the media last week to give their thoughts on the Habs 2017-18 season. After the press conference, it appears that the majority of fans do not have confidence in the direction of the organization.
Here are my top 5 takes from the press conference:
- Attitude – Attitude was the buzz word that was being used by Marc Bergevin during the press conference, stating several times that the team attitude needs to improve in order to get better results. Based on his responses to the questions on this subject, I’m thinking that one of the players that Bergevin was referring to is Carey Price. The GM mentioned during the press conference that sometimes athletes don’t realize that younger players look up to them. As I look back at his season, Price’s performance on the ice was average overall, his body language when speaking with the media wasn’t good, and for part of the season, he wouldn’t join his teammates at the centre of the ice to salute the fans after a win at home. Price said that he needed that ovation at the last home game and Molson also mentioned during the press conference that they need to build from it. That leads me to believe that there’s something broken in order for it to be built. If Price did indeed have a bad attitude, the off season should hopefully allow him to clear his mind and come out stronger next season.
- Communication – Molson stated that improved communication would be a priority providing more transparency on decisions. When announcing new contracts, the average annual value (AAV) will be disclosed, and senior management will be more available to the media. I will wait and see this new transparent policy before judging it. We did see and hear lots of Bergevin and Molson in the days following the press conference as they were completing tours with the mainstream media. I wonder if we will see the day that the Habs embrace non-traditional media.
- Fan experience – The in-game fan experience was also named as a 2018-19 priority. The owner faced a lot of criticism and mockery from fans and media alike as the owner mentioned that the quality of the food will improve for next season. It’s unclear if concession prices will change. I disagree with the people saying that fan experience isn’t important, that wins matter. The in-game fan experience is important for the 21,000+ fans in attendance at the Bell Centre who put down good money for a game or two. That being said, the end of season press conference wasn’t the time and place to discuss it as it only impacts fans attending the game at the rink. These announcements could have been made to the season ticket holders at the end of the season, and during an advertising campaign.
- Organizational changes – It was mentioned that the entire hockey operations department will be re-evaluated during the off-season. Molson specifically said that the focus will be on how they do things and not the people. This leads to believe that the changes will be minimal. I expect J.J Daigneault and Dan Lacroix to be relieved from their duties and Sylvain Lefebvre to be given a new role. I’m also expecting changes in the pro scouting department as there has been too many bad decisions recently (i.e. Karl Alzner, David Schlemko, Mark Streit, Ales Hemsky). Rick Dudley, Senior Vice President, was hired in 2012 because of his experience and knowledge in hockey in order to mentor Bergevin. Six years later, the team hasn’t advanced and I think it’s time that the GM finds himself a new mentor.
- Max done in Montreal? – The only thing that was going through my mind as I was listening to Max Pacioretty‘s end of season press conference was that Max knows that he won’t be back with the team next season. He went out of his way to mention that he loves playing in Montreal and the city, but also seemed to me that he was too comfortable with the idea of playing somewhere else next season. During the press conference, Bergevin didn’t go out of his way to praise Pacioretty, the same way he did for Carey Price. I believe that the Canadiens will be looking for a new captain by next season’s trade deadline.
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