Former Montreal Canadiens head equipment manager Pierre Gervais, who spent 35 years with the organization, released an autobiography written by Mathias Brunet which casts parts of the Marc Bergevin era in a very negative light.
The longtime mainstay at the Bell Centre is the epitome of a straight shooter. He doesn’t tend to sugarcoat his message, which led to a few fascinating tales.
Gervais expressed his surprise when winger Max Pacioretty was named captain of the team, a vote that came down to him and defenceman P.K. Subban.
“He was very egocentric,” said Gervais. “He rarely smiled and kept to himself. He didn’t bring the team together. We could win 10-1 and he’d pout if he did not score a goal.”
Gervais contends it would have been wiser to avoid naming a captain rather than selecting a poor captain. According to him, Subban and Pacioretty locked horns on several occasions, and players were well aware that the captain was only looking out for himself.
He also suggests that Pacioretty had very few allies in the locker room, even among the training staff, pointing to an incident that led Pacioretty to Bergevin’s office to convince him the team needed to make space in the equipment van for a superfluous machine that only Pacioretty used.
Pierre Gervais had to show Bergevin a picture of the van to convince him it was not possible, as they had previously explained to the Canadiens captain.
Gervais also set his sights on former head coach Dominique Ducharme, stating his coaching abilities were not up to snuff.
“You have to know how to communicate as a head coach,” said Ducharme. “You have to be passionate. You have to care.”
He explains that despite being a good person, Ducharme struggled to earn the respect of his locker room, especially due to his questionable decision-making, as was evident when he scratched Cole Caufield without warning in the playoffs.
Gervais also discussed Bergevin’s status in the room, pointing to some maturity issues that led to more lack of respect from the players.
“It didn’t inspire the players to respect him.”
On Monday the media brought up the tell-all book following the morning skate, and as expected, the players pushed back on the criticism.
“We all love Gervy, he was nothing but great to the players,” said captain Nick Suzuki. “I haven’t read his book, but we heard a few things that he said about those guys. I have respect for Berg, Dom, and Patch. It’s his book, his thoughts, I respect Gerv, but I respect those guys a lot. That’s how I stand. Gervy felt he needed to get it off his chest, I don’t know what his intentions were. We all have respect for those guys, and hopefully, they do well.”
Veteran Brendan Gallagher added his thoughts as well.
“I don’t know if there’s a code,” said Gallagher. “When I heard Gerv [Pierre Gervais] was writing a book I said “Great!”, I’m sure there are a ton of interesting stories in the book. In terms of what’s said, it’s hard to say, when it comes to this locker room it’s family. Gerv is part of that and everyone that’s mentioned is the same way. You want everyone coming out of it looking good. I understand that didn’t happen. It’s hard to comment because I have respect for everyone. You hope it blows over and everyone gets back to looking good and feeling good about themselves. That’s ultimately what we’re trying to do over here.”
Gallagher went on to mitigate some of the criticism, pointing to the players having an onus to perform.
“It was a hard year, and it’s very unfair to point the finger at one person,” said Gallagher. “As players, we try to take as much responsibility as we could, because ultimately we were the ones on the ice playing the game, so it falls on us. With Dom, people forget we went to a Cup final, he was a massive part of that. He came in, was the new voice, and turned things around. We just had such a new team and so much turnover, I think at that time the right thing was for Marty to come in. There’s just a time in sports when you need a big voice.
“Nobody disrespected Dom, nobody failed to listen to Dom. It was just a case of a new voice and we obviously have been on a good path since, but that doesn’t mean our guys didn’t respect Dom.”