There have been a lot of questions about what the Montreal Canadiens can do to turn this season around. Despite a less than 5% chance of making the playoffs, Bergevin told fans this week that he still thinks the Habs can do it. How is this possible? The much-misunderstood general manager actually told us the answer months ago. As usual, Canadiens fans were too obtuse to understand. Silly fans.
Back in October, the Habs were suffering through just the first of many slumps this season. Bergevin explained the issue as only he could. No, it’s not the mismanagement of the Alexander Radulov and Andrei Markov signings. Nor was the problem the nearly $9 million in cap space. It had nothing to do with trading youth and speed for sloth and age, nor trading your top prospect for a winger and then playing the winger out of position. The solution?
— Joey Alfieri (@joeyalfieri) October 25, 2017
The Answer is in the Room (Next Door)
I, like most simplistic fans, took Bergevin’s comments literally. That was an error. The answer is not always in the room. In the case of the Canadiens, we were looking in the wrong room. Bergevin, the trickster, meant that the Canadiens should play like he once did. Get it? He was referring to himself.
Marc Bergevin needs to suit up for the Montreal Canadiens.
The Journey is the Destination
Few realize the sort of career Bergevin had as a journeyman defenseman in the NHL. He is actually identified as a “legend” and there is a detailed summary of his career. Bergevin, a Montreal native, came up in the city’s amateur league before playing with the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens.
Chosen in the third round, 60th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1983, he played a handful of games in the minors before suiting up for 60 games in 1984-85. He was traded first to the New York Islanders and later to the Hartford Whalers. He set a personal best with 24 points in 1991-92 with the Whale and the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning signed him as a free agent in July 1992.
Success Through Defense
In what looks like seminal years in Bergevin’s development, he anchored the Lightning defense between 1992 and 1995. He was a favorite of coach Terry Crisp who convinced his team to play sound defensive hockey to remain competitive.
By their fourth season, the Lightning had relocated to the Thunderdome in St. Petersburg and began a late-season run and made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. Crisp credited the hard work of the players. This did not include Bergevin, however. He had been traded the year before to the Detroit Red Wings.
Before his retirement in 2004, Bergevin bounced around between Detriot, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Vancouver. Fans can only hope he will decide to return to the Canadiens soon. With a depleted roster, a season on the ropes, and no more excuses, it’s time for Bergevin to end the false modesty. Only he can save the season.
Before Bergevin suits up for the Canadiens later this month, let’s place him in the lineup. While he never won an award or made an All-Star team, he was respected for being a dependable defenseman. Bergevin could usually be counted on to provide a steady presence on the blue line and for taking the body in his own end. Also: he averaged almost 10 points a season which is in line with most of the Habs blueliners so far this season.
Over the 1191 games he played for eight teams, Bergevin netted 36 goals and had 145 assists for an astounding .15 points per game. Nevermind his career +/- of minus-72 or the fact that he hasn’t played in fifteen years. Obviously, he belongs on the top D pairing. Brendan Gallagher is likely to give up his Assistant Captaincy so he can step up and reprise the role he played with the Lightning and Blues.
During his career, Bergevin was not only known for his tough checking but also as a joker. While inventive bits involving potted plants have been a feature of his tenure as GM, as a player he also liked to pull pranks. The most hilarious? That time he planted a story in the press, connecting his then GM with an adult movie star. It’s really high-quality stuff. Y’ know, jokes that demonstrate character.
His highlights don’t just involve a fight against Dave Scatchard or taking a punch from Chris “Knuckles” Nilan. Bergevin had some unique skills in his own end. Stay frosty Carey. Bergy is coming to town.