Category Archives: Marc Bergevin

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

P.K. And Canadiens Kiss

I never attempted to weigh in here or anywhere else regarding the P.K. Subban and his team’s on and off romance and money game, mainly because it was pure guesswork and speculation from the start and I hate guessing and speculating.

I don’t find it fun, it doesn’t help my ulcers, and I’m usually wrong. I’ve also been on this terrific hiatus where not once have I wanted to throw my computer out the window.

I’m not finished with my hiatus either, but the P.K. story has been quite a thing for all concerned, and I felt drawn in.

Everywhere I looked (and I was paying strict attention all along), Marc Bergevin was apparently a misguided bastard. P.K. and his agent Don Meehan were asking too much. The Canadiens didn’t respect P.K. They should pay him whatever he wants. Don’t pay him whatever he wants. Five million. 8.5 million. Long term, Short term. Arbitration. P.K.’s a hot dog. P.K. makes mistakes on the ice. P.K.’s the best thing to happen since Guy Lafleur. P.K this, P.K. that. Even him going to the Leafs was discussed.

It’s all been said and figured out, and yet, when he finally did sign on the dotted line, the figure and term, $9 million for eight years, surprised everyone, even though every angle was completely covered up until then by Habs experts in all four corners of the earth.

It’s quite a sport. Not hockey, the art of getting wound up into a frenzy. The art of thinking the answers are there when they’re not. The art of being smarter than the GM who seems to have done a nice job so far.

Even now some are finding fault with the deal, although if it had fallen flat, they’d be screaming blue murder.

When the papers were signed and the news announced, fans, including me, breathed a sigh of relief, and almost like it never really had anyone’s shorts in a knot at any time, it now becomes quickly forgotten and we move on to the next paramount Habs-related issue.

Whatever it is. (Please don’t change the look of the sweater).

I wasn’t upset at Marc Bergevin and his gang for letting this thing go the distance, only confused. And when it got done, I wasn’t surprised, except for the fact it’s very much a generous offer from the team that supposedly still has issues with parts of P.K.’s game.

I stayed out of it because I’m no contract/cap/term expert. I’m just a longtime fan, waiting impatiently for another Stanley Cup, and for a bonafide superstar to don the CH once again.

And when I say bonafide superstar, I mean bonafide. Not a darn good star. Not a big star – a huge star. One that rarely comes along. The Canadiens were once upon a time blessed with so many, but not anymore. Maybe P.K. can be this kind of player. He’s shown us that it’s a possibility, but he’s not there yet.

I want my team to be king of the hill, top of the heap, as all Habs fans do. And I think the team will be. My faith never waivers. Even when they suck. Even when Scott Gomez moved the puck up the ice and then lost it.

Okay, maybe then.

I also carried a strong belief in Marc Bergevin’s methods during this P.K. process, although I didn’t understand a great deal and scratched my head more than once. But that might only be head lice.

Now we move on. How about a bit more toughness up front?

 

Brand New Hab

A hearty welcome to Moscow-born (and Saskatoon Blades) forward Nikita Scherbak, chosen by the Canadiens with their first pick (26th), although Marc Bergevin says they had him at 15th for skaters and was surprised he was still around when it came time to choose.

From Moscow to Saskatoon, and sometime in the next few years, hopefully a full-time job in Montreal.

Time marches on. In 1972 when the Summit Series was played, Nikita’s mom and dad might not have been born yet.

Now we have Nikita, with a year in the WHL with the Blades under his belt, which not that long ago would’ve been unheard of, and speaking English, albeit with a heavy accent which is to be expected of course. You should hear my French accent.

I remember when it was truly strange to hear Valeri Kharlamov say a simple English “thank you” when interviewed with a translater in ’72. Completely unusual, although maybe you had to be there.

Now, after just a year in Canada, young Scherbak was a delight, and like Alex Galchenyuk a few years back, I liked him right away.

Again, welcome Nikita.

Weise Inked

Louis Leblanc is traded to Anaheim for a conditional 5th round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Michel Therrien earns himself a four-year contract extension, and now Dale Weise has a two-year extension in his back pocket.

That’s the easy stuff for Marc Bergevin, and I’m tremendously happy about Weise being rewarded. He’s gritty, tough, and full of character. And unlike the majority of NHLers, he loves the whole idea about being a Montreal Canadien.

He’s like me, only instead of gritty, tough, and full of character, I’m gritty, weak, and full of shit.

For Therrien, what happens if he loses the room or gets into a major blowout with Bergevin early into his four years?

Now it’s getting P.K. to sign on the dotted line and deciding what to do about Andrei Markov, who apparently has his heart set on a three-year deal. After a few more years, Markov will be almost as fast as Hal Gill at his slowest.

And no, now that Shawn Thornton is being set free in Boston, he’s not welcome in Montreal and the idea of him wearing the CH should never be considered. So stop considering it or I’ll spray you with water.

Marc Talks About Things

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the press on Monday and didn’t say a lot  but mentioned the core players are maturing but the team in general isn’t mature yet like Chicago and Los Angeles are.

He said there will be more ups and downs, but the team is well on track.

Nice to hear. And we already knew all that. Ups and downs, on track, good core players.

He said Dale Weise was allowed to return and play after getting thumped by John Moore because all the tests looked to be normal, and it wasn’t until the next day that they realized he was concussed.

He looked pretty concussed to me on the TV screen. Wobbly and goofy, just like George Parros, Travis Moen, and Michael Bournival looked when they got clocked. PK had to give him a bear hug to hold him up.

If the test machines said he was fine, I’d be looking to buy new test machines. If the doctors and trainers said he was fine, I think Weise paid them off.

One of the guys Bergevin did single out as playing hard was Brian Gionta, which must be some sort of sneaky ploy. Make Gionta feel wanted and want to stay, and then cut the salary in half. Or something like that.

He played hard, he just didn’t make much of an impact. I’d rather have an impact guy. Put me in a uniform and I’d play hard too. Harder than anybody. I wouldn’t get anything done and I might fall down a lot, but I’d play hard.

For me though, it’s much different about Gionta. I think either Gionta should go, or if he stays it’s for a bargain rate and the captain’s ‘C’ comes off.

Why do I want the ‘C’ off? I don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s a great captain. I don’t care about that. I don’t want a non-productive wee little guy leading my team.

If I’m going to have a small captain that I can be proud of, I want one like 5’7 Henri Richard or 5’7 Yvon Cournoyer. Guys who play with burning fire and also produce.

Otherwise, I want a bigger captain. Crazy eh?

Really though, at this stage of the game, I think the one big change I’d make sooner than later would be the announcing of the new assistant to the assistant to Head Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais.

Stick boy.

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

The Curtain Closes

And just like that, it comes to a crashing halt.

Blanked 1-0 in game six at Madison Square Garden and the Canadiens’ season closes way too soon. We wanted more but I guess fans of every team except the Cup winner want more and don’t get it.

It was a game where the Habs had a blanket thrown over them almost from start to finish, a game they never found themselves truly in, a game where passes were off, they were checked into the ground, and the flow never flowed.

The Rangers tightened things up so much, Montreal, fighting for their lives, could only muster five shots in the first, eight in the second, and just five in the third when they should’ve been pulling out all the stops.

The attack was non-existent. So was pressure on Henrik Lundqvist. And the Rangers move on to the Stanley Cup Final and the Canadiens say their goodbyes in the next few days and spread out to different corners of the planet.

It’s a tad shocking as I pound the keyboard with two fingers. We had so many hopes and dreams that ended before they were supposed to. It sucks when the hopes and dreams don’t pan out.

This also isn’t  a night to say this guy didn’t do this or that guy didn’t do that. It just wouldn’t feel right.

It’s a night, for me at least, to look back and appreciate the terrific season the Montreal Canadiens gave us. One of only four teams left standing. How great was that?

Carey Price was on the sidelines, Dustin Tokarski stepped in, and the goaltending never lost a beat. But against the Rangers in this game especially, the team in front of Tokarski looked to have run out of gas while the Rangers still had a full tank.

In the next six months there will be some tweaking, some guys gone, a couple of young defenceman will find themselves with regular jobs, our kids like Alex Galchenyuk and Michael Bournival will have another valuable season under their belts, and PK Subban will get signed and continue on his road to the league’s best d-man.

We can get into changes and non-changes in the next while. It’ll be interesting to see what Marc Bergevin decides to do. I just hope Dale Weise, who had only signed a one-year contract, is in the plans.

We missed Weise’s character in this game six because of John Moore. Who is John Moore again?

This run has made our guys better. The experience is invaluable. Next year they’ll be one of the elite teams, one that when playoff time rolls around, they’ll be be a force and that parade will be much more of a possibility.

I’m truly proud of them. They gave us a great year, but they just aren’t quite there yet. Next year they will be because it’s a large and strong nucleus that make up our Montreal Canadiens, and the near future looks extremely bright.

One final note before it’s lights off. As I mention every year when the Habs season draws to a close, I don’t go away. This blog carries on throughout the summer so please continue to stop by.

Tomorrow’s another day. It’s also my weekly beer day at the local pub!

 

 

Habs Handled

Canadiens lose 4-1 to the visiting Boston Bruins and maybe the right thing for Marc Bergevin to do is hold a seminar for the boys and invite Mike Bossy, Steve Shutt, Marcel Dionne, Phil Esposito and as many others that can be rounded up on short notice to explain how to get the puck over the goal line.

Seven goals scored in five games. Joe Malone once scored seven himself in one game.

And no matter that Peter Budaj didn’t stand on his head and happened to allow a couple of weak ones. The fact remains that he’s getting absolutely no help from his guys at the other end.

That’s four losses in five games. You’re trying our patience, team. You can stop the nonsense any time now.

The Canadiens dominated the first period, outshooting the Bruins 13-6, with breakaways by Max and Alex Galchenyuk and lots of good chances on two power plays.

But alas, no goals.

And the beginning of the end came in the second period when Jarred Tinordi got tangled up with the puck at the side of the net, and the Bruins popped their first of four on the night.

Of course the Canadiens had a chance to regroup when yet another breakaway cropped up, this one by Plekanec, but once again, a good chance squandered.

And suddenly, before you could say #*&%@#, it was 3-0 when the middle frame came to a close.

Not much else to mention. The third period saw another Bruins goal, and then DD banged one home during a scramble in the crease and all that meant was that Thomas Vanek, who was given an assist, finally got a point for his new team.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 36-32.

Next up – Saturday, when the Senators pay a visit. Hopefully that goal-scoring seminar can be arranged before then.

 

Wharmsby’s Habs Lowdown

As we head into tonight’s game between the Habs and Leafs, I thought that instead of only just providing the link, I’d paste this very important Habs info provided by Tim Wharmsby in CBC Sports – Hockey Night in Canada.

The situation: The Canadians have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, but they haven’t won a series since they advanced to East final in 2010 … Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin needs to add offence up front and some defensive depth, but in 2013,  his first year at the helm of the Habs, he didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline. After Bergevin re-acquired Michael Ryder and picked up Jeff Halpern off waivers earlier in the season, the only deadline move the Canadiens made was to trade for defenceman Davis Drewiske for a fifth-round draft choice … Most of the trade talk in Montreal has centred around what to do with looming unrestricted free agents Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov. There was a report earlier this week that Bergevin has offered Markov a one-year contract extension, but that the 35-year-old defenceman seeks a three-year deal … Since the Olympic break, the Habs have plucked three of four points in two games without their gold-medal-winning goalie Carey Price, who returned home with a lower-body injury.

Playoff hopes: 3rd in the East, six points behind second-place Boston and eight points clear of ninth-place Washington.

Schedule: 21 games remaining (nine home, 12 road)

At home: Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, Colorado, Columbus, Buffalo, Detroit, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers.

On the road: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Buffalo, Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Florida, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Chicago.

Restricted free agents: Lars Eller, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Ryan White.

Unrestricted free agents: Francis Bouillon, Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov, Douglas Murray, George Parros.

No-trade clauses: Daniel Briere (no movement), Josh Gorges (limited), Brian Gionta (no-trade), Rene Bourque (modified), Andrei Markov (modified), Travis Moen (modified), Tomas Plekanec (modified).

Cap space: $6.9 million US.

On the farm: The Habs have made good use of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, shuttling back-and-forth players like Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Louis Leblanc, Mike Blunden and Patrick Holland. Right wing Sven Andrighetto, 20, may be the next to get a shot. The Swiss forward is coming off his most productive month, with three goals and nine points in 10 games in February.