Talk is cheap.
Montreal Canadiens’ General Manage Marc Bergevin has been a busy man.
After an impromptu press conference when the team started 0-4, he went into the locker room to give the players a talking to during a tough stretch on the West Coast. When the GM finished speaking, the players had a players-only meeting.
GMs save those bullets as a last resort. Montreal followed the rally cry with a loss to the Anaheim Ducks and a win versus the Detroit Red Wings.
They appear to be blaming their early season woes on players that are low on the totem pole. Cole Caufield has been assigned to the Laval Rocket and Alex Romanov was a healthy scratch on Tuesday.
Those moves are justifiable, Romanov was at fault on the game winning goal in Anaheim. Caufield hasn’t scored this season and isn’t doing his job.
It’s still early in the season, yet the boss thinks nuclear options are needed.
Professional athletes shouldn’t need a little pep talk to get up for an NHL game. What was said is kept behind closed doors, but can it have an impact?
And if this doesn’t work, what’s next? Some words of encouragement from owner Geoff Moslon? Maybe they need to bring in Tony Robbins.
The people who know if Bergevin’s words can have any impact, are the ones in the room.
Or those who speak from experience.
“We had a tough year in Tampa, Rick Dudley was the GM, and he absolutely came in and he was terrifying. It wasn’t a feel-good pump-up speech, it was a terrifying my god this guy is scary better wake up kind of speech,” said former NHLer Mike Johnson on TSN Radio 690. “It didn’t work, the thing about these speeches, players or coaches or a rare general manager meeting, it rarely has a noticeable impact because everyone is obviously trying their best, we’re professional athletes and this is our jobs.”
Three-time Stanley Cup Champion Aaron Ward had a similar experience with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009.
“That year we started horrendously, Jim Rutherfood came down to the locker room, I have to tell you that those things are ineffective,” said Ward. “A General Manager coming down scares the lights out of you as a player, but honestly the message is lost. His job is to oversee the personnel of the organization and there’s a disconnect the GM has to the locker room. I think it has zero affect.”
The GM has constructed a roster that isn’t good enough. Some things have been out of his control but they enter most games with less ammunition than their opponent.
The most concerning aspect of their early season struggles is their lack of effort, determination, and sacrifice. It would be easier to stomach all the losses, if it looked like they left it all on the ice.
It’s understandable if that’s the message that was communicated, but it won’t have an impact on results.