What’s next for Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin?
It is astounding that nine games into the season that the question has to be asked. Let alone how the Habs GM would answer. But this is where the rubber meets the road.
After the Montreal Canadiens were blown out for the fifth time in nine games by the L.A. Kings yesterday afternoon 5-2, Bergevin snapped into action. The Habs GM reportedly joined the players in the dressing room post-game for more than 20 minutes. With the same question likely being repeated by the head coach, players and Bergevin himself.
What is happening to this hockey team?
Regardless of what happens this afternoon against the Anaheim Ducks, the Montreal Canadiens are already a long shot to make the playoffs. If the Habs need between 96-98 points to qualify for the post-season, the team would have to win between 64 to 65 percent of their remaining games.
Difficult? Absolutely. Doable? Not if the club continue to string together these meek, lifeless losses. To bad teams no less.
No bullets left in the barrel
The Montreal Canadiens are a moody teenager, thumbing their nose at authority. Bergevin and head coach Dominique Ducharme are their clueless parents, running out of ideas as to how to get through to them.
In nine games, the Habs GM has now held a press conference with the media and had a closed door meeting with his players. This isn’t to say that the response from the general manager hasn’t been appropriate. Things are dire for this hockey team and anyone who cheers for it, supports it or covers it can see that.
But now the question is what cards does Bergevin have left to play if things don’t turn around after this?
Before even hitting double digits in the games played department, the Montreal Canadiens general manager has exercised his two non-lethal options on his team.
In his surprise media session in Brossard after the team’s 0-4 start, Bergevin’s explanation for why he felt the need to say something was reasonable enough. “There is no reason especially but Montreal’s a different market,” explained the GM on Oct. 20th. “It’s a special market. As we know, sometimes tension is higher…and I feel as the hockey boss, I think I need to show my support for the team and also my concern but I believe that the answer is within.”
The Canadiens response to their general manager’s show of support? A record of 2-3, with both wins followed up by anemic performances against two of the worst teams in the league.
Ducharme referred to the team multiple times as ‘they’, not ‘us’ in his post-game media address yesterday afternoon. Never a good look for any coach but especially not with 73 games left to go. His frustration is palpable and he let it show as much as his quiet demeaor would allow.
“I can’t pick them up every two days,” shrugged the head coach in French regarding his players last night in Los Angeles. “At some point, they have to bring it also. We’re all in the same boat, we all want the same thing. But they have their part to play as well.”
There is a disconnection with this team, on the ice but most alarmingly off of it. Stunning considering that big pieces of it were essential to their trip to the Stanley Cup Final just over 100 days ago. It seems like no one can really put their finger on exactly what is going on with this team behind closed doors. Not even the coach or general manger.
Bergevin was asked about his appetite to make a deal 11 days ago when the team was winless. “I don’t feel the need. It has nothing to do with cap space, it has to do with the group we have… I do like our team. There are some pretty good hockey players downstairs not playing to their potential and until they do, there’s nothing I’m going to do to make a change just to make a change.”
Potential is one thing. Reality is another. This looks like a really bad hockey team right now and the worst part is, the players are playing like they know they are. And if the general manger feels compelled to intervene twice in the span of nine games to start the season, those actions speak louder than words.
Bergevin has already used up both blanks in his gun. Ducharme is grasping at straws in regards of what to do next. The teenagers have been warned. The next step will be nuclear. It will likely start with kicking some kids out of the house.
Or a divorce.