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The Habs made their first big decision of the offseason earlier this week by announcing that Marc Bergevin has been hired as the new GM. Our writers have had some time to ponder his appointment as well as the subsequent demotion of Randy Cunneyworth back to assistant coach and offer up their thoughts. Plus, the result of our survey, who did the fans vote for as their ideal GM?
Matt Dilworth: In light of who was available and Montreal's unique requirements, I'm satisfied with the selection of Marc Bergevin as the General Manager for the Canadiens. To be honest, my first reaction was one of relief, as I had feared that Pierre McGuire might be named GM, but Bergevin is a solid, if not spectacular choice. He boasts an impressive resume, which up until Wednesday, was pretty much only lacking "GM" in his work experience. Nevertheless, his experience as Assistant GM should serve him well, and Bergevin has already stated that he is aware of his shortcomings, and won't hesitate to utilise his personnel when his own abilities are insufficient. From the media and fans perspective, Bergevin is certainly more outgoing than his predecessors, and should make for more frequent and entertaining press junkets. Along the same vein, his many connections made in his almost 3 decades of NHL involvement should most increase the number of Montreal's potential trade partners. Although it will take some time for Bergevin to make his mark, it is hard to be pessimistic when he openly identifies the club's needs, and displays no reluctance to do what needs to be done. Finally, his re-assignment of former coach Randy Cunneyworth to assistant coach (however temporary it may be) was a classy gesture, and will hopefully be the first of many moves bringing the Canadiens back to respectability.
Alex Létourneau: Geoff Molson and the Montreal Canadiens went the complete opposite way after relieving Gauthier of his duties. It was almost strange listening to Marc Bergevin crack jokes and be completely transparent with the media during his introductory press conference on Wednesday. More importantly, it was refreshing. I admit not knowing very much about the man. I know he’s a homeboy and had a long NHL career with several teams. He was a part of building a Stanley Cup championship with another original six team and from everything I’ve read, is a well liked prankster and is highly respected in the NHL community. These are all great qualities. He also said all the right things at the presser, putting a focus on Quebec-based talent, hiring a French-speaking coach and basically restoring the team to the one he grew up adoring. So to me, that’s a start. We’ll see what he’s made of very soon with hiring a head coach, big contracts to sign (dump?) and the draft but, in simple terms of restoring the groundwork of faith in the Montreal fanbase, Molson picked up where he left off after his heartfelt press conference last month. The future is certainly looking brighter.
Just to touch on Randy Cunneyworth being kept on as an assistant coach, I liked that move. In what could have been another classless move by letting him go altogether after the unparalleled hell he was put through, they kept him on and informed him of his role right away. I’m not sold on him being a head coach in the NHL just yet, but then again, he was given the absolute worst stage to make his debut. Good on Molson for retaining him in an important role.
Curt MacLellan: Bergevin is a fine choice for the GM position. His hockey pedigree, both as a player and as a front office executive, has honed his skills as a keen hockey mind and has adequately prepared him for his new role with the Habs. For the past several years Bergevin has acted as director of player personnel, pro scout, and assistant GM with the Chicago Blackhawks, where he helped the team win a Stanley Cup in 2010. Although he is taking over the reins for a team that finished 3rd last in the NHL, Bergevin has publicly stated that the current Montreal roster is quite strong and he is only a “piece of the puzzle” moving forward. Immediately after his appointment as GM, Bergevin correctly demoted “interim coach” Randy Cunneyworth back to assistant coach, making room for the heir-apparent to select his own coaching staff. Now that these two moves have taken place, the rest of the dominoes will soon fall; that is, RFAs like Carey Price and P.K. Subban will be re-signed, a new coach will be hired, a key young player will be selected in the upcoming draft, and potential free agents will be courted in an attempt to resurrect the pride and glory of The Canadiens. With Scotty Bowman’s blessing also in place, Bergevin is poised to bring the team back, not only to respectability, but also to thriving success.
The Fans' Choice
Earlier this week, we released a survey to get your thoughts on the GM situation. Unfortunately we had less than a day to collect responses before the Habs made their selection but we still gathered quite a few responses. Here are the results of who you picked for GM:
1) Pierre McGuire: 39.6%
2) Marc Bergevin: 24.4%
3) Julien BriseBois: 15.4%
4) Other: 10.2%
5) Patrick Roy: 4.0%
6) Doug Risebrough: 3.5%
7) Blair Mackasey: 1.8%
8) Claude Loiselle: 1.1%
9) Larry Carriere: 0%
In the 'other' category, we had a variety of selections. Dale Tallon and Jim Nill were popular write-ins while a few people voted for themselves. I personally would like to thank the one voter who chose me as a write-in. Our writers took the same poll a couple of days in advance of the fan one, there was a tie for their winner between Bergevin and one of the other finalists in Julien Brisebois.
Part 2 will be posted on Saturday which will include more thoughts from our writers and some more results from our survey.