Digest for alt.sports.hockey.nhl.mtl-canadiens@googlegroups.com - 2 updates in 1 topic

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Jim Bauch <j.bauch@ca.rr.com>: May 10 02:39PM -0700

Seems they've been asking this question lately on Montreal 690 radio, so I thought I'd open a discussion here.
 
Positives:
 
With the exception of the 2015-16 debacle, the team has been competitive and worth watching during his tenure. However, this is mitigated somewhat by the fact that the key components (Price, Max, Galy, Gallagher, Subban, Markov) were already here when he took over.
 
Generally restored a sense of professionalism and dignity after the weirdness of the Gauthier regime. Not much in the way of leaks or internal chaos.
 
Seems to have a vision for the team that guides his moves; even if I often disagree with that vision, there is something to be said for a coherent approach.
 
Contract signings have generally been reasonable. The Plekanec and Emelin deals were a little generous, but not outright cap-killers, and they're the worst of the bunch.
 
Has avoided panic deals, especially at the trade deadline where prices tend to get high.
 
The "Bargain Basement" thing is actually a sensible approach. If you fill gaps with relatively cheap players, you can afford to have a low success rate, because the occasional successes (Byron, Radulov) outweigh the rather minimal consequences of cutting loose a bunch of low-paid "failures."
 
Willingness to cut loose underperforming players.
 
Negatives:
 
I think his overall vision is fundamentally wrong. If you gave me the guy who is arguably the world's best goaltender, I would try to build a run and gun team, dare teams to get into 40-40 shots on goal games, confident that my goalie can bail me out more often than theirs does, rather than play ultraconservative and get into 20-20 shots on goal games. Of course, pretty much 100% of NHL GMs seem to think Bergy's approach is best, so I don't count this factor for much.
 
The Subban file. From the arbitration fiasco to siding with his idiot coach over his superstar defenseman, to the Weber trade, Bergevin just decided that Subban wasn't his kind of guy and thereby mismanaged and squandered a key asset.
 
A clear impression that he is playing favorites on a personal level. Evidenced by the treatment of Subban, but also his excessive loyalty to Therrien among others.
 
Smug arrogance. His condescending answers in press conferences about how it's really really hard to find good players. The foxhole nonsense. I don't weigh this factor much since it's more of a personal irritant than something actually affects the team on the ice.
 
A failure to develop young talent. Possibly the most damning of them all. This was supposed to be the breakout year for Galchenyuk and Beaulieu; in some ways it still was for Galy, who put up good numbers over the season, but he spend parts of the playoffs on the 4th line. Beaulieu went from the #1 pairing to being a healthy scratch in the playoffs, and is presumed to be on his way out of town. I suppose we can declare Lehkonen a success story, but the rest of the pipeline isn't looking like much -- we'll have to see if Shipachev and/or Juulsen can make the jump to the NHL level. And the apparent unwillingness to make any kind of change at the AHL level suggests that MB thinks everything is A-OK on this front.
 
Overall Grade: B. Maybe that's a little generous on my part given the above analysis, but I want to keep things in perspective. You can do worse as a GM -- and the Habs have, with Houle and Gauthier. I might put Gainey on a par with Bergevin, and in fairness to Bergy, none of his moves were as bad as the Gomez trade.
 
Jim
Gerry <gerry14@hotmail.com>: May 10 05:23PM -0700

I don't feel like I can do this justice atm, but despite that, here goes.
 
Grade: F
 
Yes, get the grade out of the way off the top. The Habs have gone nowhere important, haven't won anything, don't seem to be poised to do so, have more questions than answers for the immediate future. I can't come up with any reasons to think the next 5 years will offer any improvement over the last 5. I stopped caring about the team. What bigger indictment could I really offer? I poured my heart and soul into the team for 30+ years, and now I follow them mechanically out of habit, but frankly could not give the proverbial rat's ass if they win or lose anymore.
 
Is Marc Bergevin solely to blame for this? I don't know. He didn't avert it, in any case. He kept an incompetent coach on waaaay too long. Sure, now they appear to have a competent coach for the next 5 years. What took him so long? But they also seem poised to have an inferior roster.
 
It is true that I like the Bargain Bin approach. I like low-risk accumulation of "bargain" players, and Jim pretty much nailed the reasons for why I think this is a good approach in general for NHL teams. You may or may not "win", but you basically lose nothing.
 
But that cannot be all you're good at if you want to avoid the "F".
 
I feel like I would absolutely despise Marc Bergevin in person. His smugness and alpha-persona may have seemed charming at first in relation to Gauthier, but it's pretty clear he's mostly a poseur. He thinks he's smart and funny, but we've seen enough to know that he's not really all that he thinks he is.
 
The front office is bloated with nepotism. The AHL staff has performed abysmally and development has suffered.
 
The Subban file could have warranted an "F" grade all on its own, but is relegated instead to basically just a line item in the litany.
 
Bergevin inherited the best goalie in the world, a bunch of top talent, and... has done absolutely nothing to build on it. He shuffled deck chairs in the bottom-6 for 5 years, and he's in serious danger of hitting an iceberg soon if any of those top players drops off further. His best goalie in the world is UFA after next season. He traded his Norris d-man. His top-5 scoring winger captain has more question marks than the Riddler atm. If he can't re-sign the miracle find of Radulov...??! The ship could sink pretty fast. There isn't much of a prospect pipeline set up to pump out the inrushing waters. They could sink like a stone in the Atlantic as soon as next season.
 
So... yeah, it's an "F". That team should have been ready to go somewhere, and even though all is not totally lost, those 5 years for sure are. Bergevin has been a failure so far. He'll get the next 5 years to try to turn things around, though, I have no doubt of that.
 
l8r,
Gerry
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