Marc Bergevin has been announced as the new GM of the Montreal Canadiens. As tough a job as GM of the Habs is, he comes at the right time. Following Gauthier's reign makes for a chance to look great by comparison. Bergevin played nearly 1200 games in the NHL and followed up his playing career with a long stint in Chicago Blackhawks management. A team that had tremendous success while Bergevin was a part of it. He was a pro scout for the Hawks for three years then had a short tenure behind the bench as an assistant coach. In the summer of 2009 he was appointed the Blackhawks Director of Player Personnel and while in this position won a Stanley Cup. Last season he served as the Hawks Assistant GM. Today he becomes GM of the Montreal Canadiens and here are a few things he could do to win over some of Montreal's fans.
1) Lose Gomez. By any means necessary this man has to have played his last game as a Canadien. Waive him and send him to the minors, loan him to a team overseas a la Cristobal Huet or send him back to the ECHL's Alaska Aces ( he has played at an ECHL level for a few years so this may be the best fit). Buying him out doesn't make the most sense as you would end up with a cap hit of about 3.5, 4.5 1.7 and 1.7 over the next 4 years respectively. If waived and sent away his cap hit for the 4 years? 0, 0, 0, 0.
2) Pick the right Coach. Obviously the languages the future coach does or does not speak is a huge issue with this team. I believe if the perfect candidate comes along and isn't french that everyone would be fine with that but I just don't see it happening. If Kirk Muller from Kingston Ontario were available I don't think people would complain like they did with poor Cunneyworth. I think a coach with some NHL experience is necessary as seen in St Louis and L.A how quickly that worked out.
3) Find a winger (or two) for Plekanec. Rene Bourque was not the solution to get Plekky going after Gionta got hurt. If Bourque and Gionta are top six wingers playing with Plekanec I expect this team to fail miserably at returning to the playoffs next season. I think Gionta can work in the top six but an upgrade over Bourque is absolutely necessary. Parise is a dream, Parenteau would be a good fit but may cost a lot after another great season and the fact that Ville Leino is somehow worth 4.5 million for forever on July 1. The third overall pick could jump right in to play top six but with all the injuries to this years drat class the pick ( Grigorenko, Galchenyuk, Forsberg) will likely need another year of development. An interesting possibility would be to turn this years #3 pick into last years #3 pick and make a swap surrounding the pick and Jonathan Huberdeau.
4) Re-sign key RFA's quickly. Eller Subban and Price are all RFA's this offseason and the last thing Montreal needs is a team like Toronto or Tampa Bay trying to pry Subban or Price away or driving up the cost of these players. These three, especially Price and Subban have to resigned long term before July 1.
5) Toughen up the bottom end of the D. With a hopefully healthy Markov, Emelin, Gorges and Subban, Montreal's top four is set. The problem is behind these guys are Kaberle, Weber and Diaz. Any mix of these three as the third set of D is just too soft and makes for easy minutes for the other team when they are on the ice. Most teams still alive in the playoffs have a 5-6 pair and even a #7 who is big mean and physical.
Of course this is Montreal and no matter what is done Bergevin will never totally please the fan base (and hopefully doesn't care if he does) and actually probably has plenty of haters already even though he will only be introduced in about 2 hours to make him officially the new GM. Ah Montreal! Welcome Bergevin, but done get too comfortable, there is always some kind of controversy right around the corner in this city.
Thanks for reading!