Marc Bergevin was very close to his players, and it is perhaps for this reason that his departure is difficult for the members of the Montreal Canadiens to take.
Two days after the dismissal of the general manager of the Habs, the players we met seemed to still have difficulty digesting this change, which will certainly bring others to the team.
“When a general manager or a coach is fired, it also has to do with the game on the ice,” said Jonathan Drouin on Tuesday. It’s hard for the players to accept. Marc was excellent. Every summer he improved the team. I have enormous respect for him, for his management of the team. No matter the individual or group situations, he was amazing here. It’s going to be hard not to see him at the arena. “
Defenseman Ben Chiarot admitted Bergevin may be closer to his players than most NHL general managers. We only have to think of the celebrations of June 24, when the Canadian had just eliminated the Golden Knights of Vegas to reach the Stanley Cup final. Bergevin had hugged each of his players in a moment of ecstasy.
“He’s the one who brought us all here. He assembled this team, a team that reached the final, Chiarot recalled. He was part of something special last spring. It’s not easy to see him go. He was someone special to me and to a lot of the players in the locker room. “
Bergevin signed Chiarot to a three-season, US $ 10.5 million contract on July 4, 2019. The Ontario defenseman was just a support player with the Winnipeg Jets. He has become a leading defenseman with the Habs, seeing his average playing time drop from 18:37 in his last campaign with the Jets to 23:08 in his first season with the Canadiens.
“He believed in me. He brought me here as a free agent, he believed in what I could become, said the 30-year-old defender. He helped me in my career. He was around the team every day. I could talk to her when things were going well or not. He could tell me what he was seeing. He’s had a long career as a player, and I have a style of play similar to the one he had. He had a big impact on my career, and I will always be grateful to him. “
Legacy of Bergevin
Bergevin spent just over nine and a half years at the helm of the Canadiens. He tried to create a winning culture around players with impeccable work ethic like Brendan Gallagher, Carey Price and Shea Weber.
During his end-of-season record after the Canadiens’ elimination against the Philadelphia Flyers in 2020, Bergevin noted that the passage of players like Weber and Price would be felt for many years to come. And while the Habs find themselves a bit back to square one with the changes in management, the legacy of Bergevin and the players he cultivated with will be felt for a long time to come.
“It’s a culture that will stay,” said Drouin. Carey Price and Shea Weber are very good leaders. “
“(Weber) has passed the torch to some players by showing how to manage his body like a pro and all the staff on the team with respect. That won’t change. Maybe the hockey side will change with the new leaders, but I think that culture will stay. “
The players now find themselves in the dark about the plans of the new management of the team. The new senior vice president of hockey operations, Jeff Gorton, is scheduled to start Wednesday. Owner and chairman Geoff Molson said Monday he was not afraid of a rebuild if Gorton and the next GM deem it the right thing to do in the goal of winning a twenty-fifth Stanley Cup.
Chiarot and Drouin noted that these decisions are beyond the control of the players. Drouin, however, recalled that it will be important for things to be clear for the players regarding the intentions of the new leaders. He also added that players will want to make a good first impression on their new bosses.
Edmundson still on the sidelines
Defenseman Joel Edmundson has been sidelined with a back injury that has bothered him since training camp began, and the news is hardly encouraging.
Edmundson had accompanied his teammates on the Habs most recent trip. He had even participated in a first training session with his teammates in Buffalo.
The 28-year-old Manitoba defenseman met with team medics Monday night and was enjoying a day of treatment on Tuesday. His state of health will be reassessed in the coming days.
The news was more positive for forward Mathieu Perreault (eye) and defenders Brett Kulak (lower body) and Chris Wideman (undisclosed). They trained with the group on Tuesday, but they had to avoid contact.
For his part, forward Mike Hoffman (upper body) skated ahead of his teammates and he could resume regular training in the coming days.