Thursday, May 3, 2012

Has he fixed them yet?

I hope Marc Bergevin enjoys the honeymoon, because it's going to last exactly as long as it takes for him to hire a new head coach, make the third pick in next month's draft and re-sign restricted free agents Carey Price and P.K. Subban.
Those are only the most pressing concerns on a cluttered agenda for Bergevin, who was introduced as the Canadiens general manager yesterday to the universal approval of fans and media - even the ones who stumped for broadcaster and third-time bridesmaid Pierre McGuire. But no matter how much he has going for him - whether it's his Montreal roots, NHL experience, engaging personality or chic fashion sense - Bergevin is going to run afoul of at least a portion of the public the first time he has to make one of the several important decisions he faces between now and the opening of training camp.
The Patrick Roy-for-coach club will be as alienated by the hiring of another coach as the anybody-but-Roy camp will be if St. Patrick gets the job. Bergevin will be damned if he drafts Mikhail Grigorenko and damned if he doesn't, depending on whether the talented but typically enigmatic Russian is snapped up by one of the two teams drafting ahead of the Canadiens, which circumstances dictate is doubtful. For however long and however much Bergevin re-signs Price and Subban, there will be know-it-all naysayers scorning the contracts as too expensive, too long or not long enough. And he's got to figure out how to operate within the salary cap while crippled by excessive multi-year commitments to appallingly overpaid underachievers Scott Gomez, Rene Bourque and Thomas Kaberle.
Yesterday was an uplifting day for the Canadiens - the dawn of a new era, even - but the fundamental realities confronting the team have not changed. The challenges for Bergevin are many and daunting, and he'll face them under enormous and constant scrutiny in a city that doesn't suffer fools or failure gladly.

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