|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on May 2, 2012 at 12:25 PM|
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and firing general manager Pierre Gauthier shortly before the NHL’s regular season ended, the Montreal Canadiens have replaced him with Marc Bergevin. The 46-year-old former player will have enough time to get his feet wet in the organization before the annual draft takes place in June.
The Canadiens, who finished in last place in the 15-team Eastern Conference, introduced Bergevin at a press conference on May 2. He becomes the 17th general manager in the team’s long and storied history. Bergevin, who hails from the Montreal neighbourhood of Point St. Charles, started his NHL playing career as a defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks after being drafted 59th overall in the third round of the 1983 entry draft.
He made his Blackhawks debut in the 1984/85 season and played for the Hartford Whalers, New York Islanders, Detroit Red Wings, Tampa Bay Lightning, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, and St. Louis Blues before retiring 20 years later. Bergevin played a total of 1,191 games during his career in the NHL and scored a total of 36 goals and 145 assists for 181 totals. He also played for Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in 1994.
Bergevin has spent the last seven years with the Chicago Blackhawks as general manager Stan Bowman’s assistant. The Canadiens fired Gauthier with just five games to go in the regular season and the team finished the campaign with a record of 31-35-16, which was their worst in the past eight years. Gauthier fired head coach Jacques Martin earlier in the season and replaced him with Randy Cunneyworth. This move was criticized heavily by some fans and media outlets in bilingual Montreal since Cunneyworth couldn’t speak French.
The Canadiens are nowhere near the NHL powerhouse they used to be though. They have won the Stanley Cup a record 23 times, which is 10 more than the Toronto Maple Leafs, their nearest cup rival, but haven’t won the trophy since 1993. They haven’t reached the Stanley Cup Final since then either.
Bergevin’s a well-known prankster from his 20 years in the league, but he’s now got a serious task ahead of him He hopes to turn the Canadiens fortunes around as soon as possible and brings some valuable experience with him since he also served as assistant coach, director of player personnel, and pro-scouting director at various times during his stint in Chicago.
Bowman said that Bergevin has dozens of connections around the league because of his easy-going and friendly personality. He said players on teams would gravitate to him wherever he played and he can now draw upon the connections he’s made over the past two decades. Bergevin admitted that he’s not really strong in the numbers area, such as with the salary cap, but is confident he’ll learn the ropes quickly.
wriitten by: Ian Palmer