Marc Bergevin: What’s Old is New Again in the Canadiens Organization


By Joce, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


PENTICTON, BC. – Even when trying to remain level-headed and keeping our feet on the ground when looking at Marc Bergevin’s work so far as the Canadiens’ General Manager, it’s extremely hard not to be impressed. It’s even more so difficult if you are a Habs’ fan, one who has suffered through the drought of mediocrity since the early to mid-1990’s.

Many were puzzled (to say the least) by the hiring of Michel Therrien, calling that decision his first mistake. Several were wondering what got into him for signing an aging unrestricted free agent (UFA) in Francis Bouillon. The fan base was divided when Bergevin kept to his guns in the contract negotiations with hold-out P.K. Subban and while it looks like the star defenseman will be getting a huge raise on his next contract, he has been and will be a bargain this year and the next. And more than a few were questioning him trading away Erik Cole, who was showing signs of getting back to his old self, while getting in return a guy who had already been here, pending UFA Michael Ryder. Not many are questioning any of those moves today and everyone is forced to admit that Bergevin knew what he was doing.

As I was writing in a previous article, Marc Bergevin was in an evaluation mode. He had called up several young players from the Hamilton Bulldogs to get a better look at their progression, to better evaluate and estimate how close (or how far) they are from being able to make a contribution to the big club. Guys like Gabriel Dumont, Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu all had a chance to have a taste of the NHL this season, and Mike Blunden is currently still getting that opportunity. The common denominator with the names mentioned above is that they all had a good season with the Bulldogs, meaning that the call-ups served as a reward for it. This could also explain why former first round pick Louis Leblanc and experienced defenseman Frédéric St-Denis didn’t get the same opportunity, in spite of their NHL experience. No excuses! What’s most amazing is that they did it while keeping with their winning ways, with the Habs solidly hankered in second place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of arch-rivals Boston Bruins at the time of writing this.

Bringing young players goes well beyond evaluation of player-personnel. It also serves as a source of added motivation for the young prospects themselves. A majority of prospects with the Bulldogs have now had a taste of the five-star hotels, the first-class airfares, the bigger and more spacious dressing rooms and of the training facilities. They can taste it, they want it, and they know that when Patrice Brisebois, Martin Lapointe and the Bulldogs’ coaching staff try to develop them, it’s to help them reach that goal of theirs… much like the Habs of olds used to do with their young prospects.

But the new way of running the organization doesn’t stop there. We’ve already seen Bergevin sign more players to professional try-out (PTO) contracts than any other manager before him. While some of them were out of necessity throughout the season in order to field a team in Hamilton, most came in the last few weeks when CHL teams were eliminated from the playoffs.

Charles Hudon (Chicoutimi, QMJHL), Olivier Archambault (Drummondville, QMJHL) and Brady Vail (Windsor, OHL) were all given PTO contracts to finish the season with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Also, former second round pick and North Dakota University graduate Danny Kristo signed his name at the bottom of a shiny new two year deal to also finish the season with the Bulldogs. This talented youth injected more skills to an already young AHL affiliate but more importantly, it gives the players some much needed professional experience while allowing management to see where they are at with their development. There are even talks that the team’s second round pick at last year’s draft, Sebastian Collberg (SEL), might also be joining the Bulldogs for a few games!

Marc Bergevin had already given more freedom and power to his Director of amateur scouting Trevor Timmins, and with his recent decisions, he is also allowing his scouting department to perhaps see the areas where they should be focussing their efforts, helping the organization better determine its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to its prospects pool.

Looking beyond the team’s success on the ice, it is remarkable to see how well Bergevin has built his management team around him. Everyone has a role, a section of expertise, and all seem know what they have to do, and they do it very well. It was said that the Habs stole the show at the last draft and seeing Bergevin’s reticence in parting with high draft picks for rental players came not only as a bit of a surprise, but also as relief for many Habs’ fans across the board, especially in a year where the talent pool is said to be deep.

Bergevin and his team have been noticed across the NHL and that, as much on the ice with its performances, as off the ice with their decisions. We are looking at a well-oiled machine, with a very intelligent man in control, a man who has a plan, one who knows where he’s going and what it takes to get there. While we grew familiar with General Managers’ five-year plans, Bergevin is changing the culture, our way of thinking, with a progressive and constant plan to keep this team competitive year in, year out, for now as well as in the future.

Remember when we were saying that player development was one of the Habs’ major issues? When communication was lacking within the organization? Those are things of the past. The future looks bright… very bright. Go Habs Go!

En français: Ce qui est vieux est nouveau chez les Canadiens

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J.D. Lagrange
J.D. is a Senior writer for All Habs as well as Associate-Editor for the French version Le Magazine All Habs, while one of three Administrators of the fan forum Les Fantômes du Forum. He has created the handle Habsterix as a fictional character for the sole purpose of the internet. It is based on the cartoon Asterix of Gaule and 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 from his home town of Sherbrooke, Quebec, 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. || J.D. est Rédacteur-Adjoint sur Le Magazine All Habs et il est un Rédacteur Principal sur le site anglophone All Habs, tout en étant un des trois Administrateurs du forum de discussion Les Fantômes du Forum. Il a créé le pseudonyme Habstérix comme caractère fictif pour l’internet. Celui-ci est basé sur Astérix de Gaule et sa potion magique est sa passion pour les Canadiens de Montréal. Lorsqu’il est né, Jean Béliveau soulevait la Coupe Stanley et il se rappelle des jours où gagner n’était pas un espoir, mais une attente. Pour lui, écrire est un passe-temps, pas une profession. Ayant déménagé dans la superbe Colombie-Britannique en 1992 en provenance de sa ville natale de Sherbrooke, Québec, il a commencé à écrire en français pour garder sa grammaire, jusqu’à ce que ses amis anglophones ne réussissent à le convaincre d’avoir son blog en anglais. Son épouse vous dira qu’il est têtu, mais elle sera la première à reconnaître son grand sens de l’humour. Il est toujours fier de partager avec vous, lecteurs et lectrices, ses points de vue sur différents sujets, et quoi que les gens ne s’entendent pas toujours sur ceux-ci, le respect des opinions et des autres est son énoncé de mission.


  1. What I’m most impress with is the guts and determination it takes to make decisions with skeptcism being tossed at you from different direction and still come out looking good…Keep up the excellent work…HABZ RULE 4 EVER!!!HOOOAH!

  2. What I’m most impress with is the guts and determination it too to stand up against critics and still look good…Keep up the excellent work. HABZ RULE 4 EVER….HOOOAH!!!

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