Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bergevin is no Churchill (and vice-versa)



  When general manager Marc Bergevin stood in front of the assembly of professional second-guessers at the Canadiens practice facility in Brossard last week, I saw and heard Winston Churchill during Britain's darkest hour, after France had fallen and Old Blighty stood alone against the Nazi menace.  Obviously, the stakes are significantly less profound and there's a stark contrast in the cut of their respective jibs - Bergevin would look as ridiculous in a siren suit "onesie" as Winnie would in an electric blue sportcoat and skinny jeans - but there was more than a hint of Churchillian defiance and resolve as Bergevin assumed the burden of responsibility and vowed to stay the course in the face of a defeatist fan and media frenzy.  I thought it was a carefully-crafted battle cry designed to inspire the Canadiens to their finest hour, and I thought it would work.  I thought wrong. 

   Back-to-back losses to the dead-last Columbus Blue Jackets heading into the All Star break were hardly reminiscent of RAF heroics in the Battle of Britain, and the time has arrived to run up the white flag on the Canadiens as they are now constituted. Change is needed - not tinkering, but decisive, soul-shaking upheavel of the sort that won't come about by merely changing the coach and/or general manager, which would be the wrong move(s) anyway.  Michel Therrien hasn't lost the room, and summarily dismissing an otherwise successful executive of Bergevin's calibre on the basis of one (admittedly prolonged) slump would smack of panic and stupidity.  
   That leaves one option: a trade.  The Canadiens need offence and they're deep on defence, which is why Nathan Beaulieu's name keeps popping up, especially in rumoured talks between Montreal and Tampa Bay surrounding blue chip prospect Jonathan Drouin.  But whatever Drouin's upside, a still-unproven 20 year old is not the answer to what ails the franchise, and putting that kind of pressure on a French-Canadian kid in Montreal could ruin Drouin for good.
   My Jewel 106.7 morning show co-host, Tom Whelan, is thinking bigger - much bigger.  A passionate Habs fan, Tom admits that he's so fed up that he wouldn't care if PK Subban were traded under the right circumstances.  As unthinkable as that might seem - whether because of Subban's talent or his ties to the community - imagine what he could fetch in return.  Subban straight up for unrestricted free-agent-in-waiting Steven Stamkos isn't an outrageous proposition, if Stamkos could be persuaded to commit long-term to the Canadiens.  And if the Lightning balked at one-for-one, sweeten the pot with a top prospect or a first round draft choice.  I mean, it's Steven fucking Stamkos, for crissakes.
   That's just one of many potential scenarios, and as radical as it sounds, these are desperate times for the Canadiens and half-measures will avail them nothing.  Whatever the move, they have to make it matter and make it now. Carey Price can't save the season if they're already out of the playoff race by the time he comes back from injury.  And at this point, the buck doesn't stop with Bergevin.  It stops with owner Geoff Molson, who couldn't have been happy to see empty seats and hear boos last night at the Bell Center. A tarnished brand is bad for business.  Molson also understands that although the Canadiens are privately-owned, they are a public trust, and inaction in these circumstances is unacceptable.   
   The Hun is at the doorstep.  Bergevin's Churchillian rallying cry failed.  It's time for the King to enter the fray.

Churgevin photoshopping courtesy of the totally awesome Josie Gold of Four Habs Fans fame.

4 comments:

  1. Ted, where are you getting your info on the coach not having lost the room? I have a pretty close connection to one of the active roster players and the message I've heard from him is that there is a pretty clear feeling that although he's not the only problem, that Therrien has to go. These guys have played his system to a T and it hasn't produced results. Yes, there needs to be upgrades on the roster itself, but if it isn't clear by now that all of Therrien's success in Montreal was on the back of Carey Price, I don't know what to say,

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    1. Effort. They're losing consistently but the effort is there. Everyone sees that.

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  2. Food for thought. 1) I don't think a trade of that magnitude and a change of coaching are a one or the other proposition. But I also don't believe that you change coaches for the sake of change. You change to improve...so who is the next guy? Who is out there that would be better and would take the job?
    As far as trading PK goes, I think there are only a handful of players you can trade him for and that make the team better for the next 7-8 years. Stamkos for sure. Maybe Doughty. Maybe Kopitar. Anything else is a lynch mob waiting to happen.

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  3. Don't trade PK. Trade the 200 or so idiots at the Bell Centre on Tuesday who booed Subban, who on the night logged 28 minutes and assisted on both Habs goals.

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