Nov 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens general managerMarc Bergevin
speaks at a press conference before the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
15. Extreme Makeover: Habs Edition
Nothing will beat July 1, 2009 when it comes to shake ups by the Montreal Canadiens. That was the day they got Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill and goodbye to – among others – Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu.
However, that was a team that had an absolute collapse and needed a change. This July, the Canadiens were coming off of an appearance in the Eastern Conference semi-final but General Manager Marc Bergevin was not satisfied.
First, he attributed the playoff run to a bit of luck, and then he realized the team could still be improved – and that’s what he did.
By July 1, it was known that Douglas Murray, George Parros, Thomas Vanek (expiring contracts) and Daniel Briere (traded to Colorado for P.A. Parenteau) would not return to the Canadiens. All four of those players were acquired by Bergevin the previous year.
Then, when free-agency started, he replaced them. Manny Malhotra was signed as the fourth line center. Josh Gorges was traded to Buffalo and then immediately replaced with Tom Gilbert. Mike Weaver was re-signed. And perhaps the biggest coup of all, an unknown Czech forward named Jiri Sekac decided to sign with Montreal.
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A GM like Bergevin could have seen his team’s playoff performance and stood pat. But good general managers are never satisfied. It was the most positive performance by a GM that I can recall. Regardless of the results, his process was correct.
The Canadiens also made P.K. Subban the highest paid player in team history and avoided an arbitration settlement. I’m not sure what changed in the hours after the hearing, but I think everyone is happy a deal got done.
When the season started, Bergevin wasn’t satisfied still. He shipped off Travis Moen and Rene Bourque within a week and a half of each other for expiring contracts. It also gave room for Jiri Sekac to play a regular role which he so rightly deserves.
He finished the year off by signing Brendan Gallagher to a 6 year, $22.5 million extension which is great value for a core piece of the future of the franchise. And, finally, the team decided to start Alex Galchenyuk at center on a line with Gallagher and Max Pacioretty. There were questions as to whether he was ready, but there are questions no more.
The future is now in Montreal, and the reality is with Artturi Lehkonen, Mike McCarron, Nikita Scherbak and Jacob De La Rose on the horizon (not even mentioning Martin Reway, Sven Andrighetto, Charles Hudon and others) the future may be even brighter. And it’s not like the Canadiens are an aging bunch to begin with.
Next: No. 14: An Incredible Turn-Around