Big cleaning at the Canadian, who fires Marc Bergevin and Trevor Timmins

All the signs were pointing in that direction. The atrocious start to the season for his team. The refusal of his boss to extend his contract. The interviews that were underway to prepare for his succession. Confirmation finally came: Marc Bergevin was fired from his position as vice-president and general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

Simon-Olivier Lorange

Simon-Olivier Lorange

Trevor Timmins, Deputy Managing Director, as well as Paul Wilson, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, CH Group, are also relieved of their duties.

In a statement, the owner and president of the organization, Geoff Molson, wrote that the next general manager would be hired “as soon as possible”, and that he would speak French. He also announced the addition of Jeff Gorton as Executive Vice President, Hockey Operations.

After praising the “hard work” that “made it possible for our fans to have memorable moments,” Mr. Molson wrote that “the moment [était] come to make a change of leadership in our hockey department which will bring a new vision ”.

Bergevin was in his tenth season at the helm of the team. Under his leadership, the CH maintained a record of 344 wins, 265 losses and 81 losses in overtime or in shootout, a good harvest for the 15th.e NHL rank in the meantime.

This campaign was the last one foreseen in his contract. His future in Montreal already seemed uncertain after the playoffs last summer, a situation amplified by this new season that began without a long-term agreement. And the catastrophic position in which the Habs find themselves in the standings – already 10 points from a place in the playoffs after barely a quarter of the season – has not helped to solidify its legitimacy. On the contrary.

Events accelerated on Saturday night when reporters revealed that Geoff Molson had met with candidates for the positions of general manager and club president. Scott Mellanby, Bergevin’s right-hand man, was reportedly considered for both positions, but resigned after learning his candidacy was unsuccessful.


Scott Mellanby

Bergevin leaves behind a mixed record. His team’s participation in the last Stanley Cup final remains an undeniable feat of arms. But if the Habs miss the playoffs this season, which seems inevitable, it would be the fourth time in five years, and the fifth in seven years – the surprise 2020 playoff appearance was due to a regulatory exception.

Goes all

The GM went all-out on the eve of the 2020-2021 season by adding veterans Josh Anderson, Tyler Toffoli, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen and Corey Perry to his roster. “We don’t mean to laugh” [we mean business], he even launched at the start of the campaign.

His bet paid off, because despite a difficult season, during which he notably fired head coach Claude Julien to replace him with Dominique Ducharme, his club’s journey to the final was equally galvanizing for the organization. only for supporters.

The spell was quickly broken, however. Last summer it became known that defenseman Shea Weber would skip the 2021-22 season, possibly even his career, and that Carey Price would miss the first few weeks of the calendar after joining the aid program. of the NHL. Phillip Danault and Jesperi Kotkaniemi left the team, leaving CH weakened at center position. Injuries also deprived the team of good elements at the start of the season.

This does not prevent that very few observers had seen such a debacle coming. Never, in 112 years of history, the bleu-blanc-rouge had never been in such a bad position after 22 games.

Clearly, Geoff Molson believed the time had come to make changes in his hockey staff. Bergevin and Timmins paid the price.

Quick successes

Bergevin was most successful during the first third of his term.

Appointed GM in May 2012, this ex-defender inherited a disoriented club which had just experienced a catastrophic season. The Quebecer quickly took action, and the first season under the new administration ended with a first place in the Northeast division.

The team did even better the following season. Taking advantage of the fact that the organization’s most promising young players – Carey Price, PK Subban and Max Pacioretty – were coming of age, CH reached the Eastern Conference final.


PK Subban with the Canadian, in 2016

During the summer of 2016, Bergevin achieved the most impactful exchange of his reign in Montreal. He sent PK Subban to the Nashville Predators in return for Shea Weber. The deal took the NHL by surprise and ignited the province. The pro-Subban were sorry to see a 27-year-old defender, winner of the Norris Trophy three years earlier, leave against an older full-back with a pharaonic contract. The pro-Weber countered that Subban was not unanimous in the locker room and that Weber, a respected player and member of the Canadian Olympic team two years earlier, would infuse the team with leadership.

The summer of 2017 was a turning point in what has come to be known as the “Bergevin years”. Within weeks, four left-handed defenders, including Andrei Markov, left the organization. Bergevin replaced them with a group of veterans, most of whom have just passed by. The season that followed was one of the worst in club history, scoring just 71 points.

The 2018-19 season saw the Canadiens bounce back with 96 points, but miss the playoffs. The same fate awaited him at the end of the following campaign. However, after the season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the NHL added a qualifying round to the 2020 summer playoffs, which gave the Habs a chance.

Led by the breathtaking performances of Carey Price and young centers Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the Canadian caused the surprise by winning the qualifying round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, then offering a more than honest performance against the Flyers. of Philadelphia.

It was these successes that prompted Marc Bergevin to go on the attack in the following offseason, drastically changing the face of the team on the ice.


Marc Bergevin has built a reputation as a CEO who is particularly skilled in concluding transactions. To date, among his important gestures, only the exchange of Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin, concluded in 2017, seems to give a clear advantage to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The trade that sent Max Pacioretty to Vegas continues to serve the Habs well, who got Nick Suzuki in return, in addition to Tomas Tatar, who had two 20-goal seasons in Montreal. Suzuki, perceived as the next captain of the club, has just made a long-term commitment with CH by signing an eight-year contract extension that will earn him $ 63 million.


Max Pacioretty with the Canadian, in 2018

His best move is probably the one that sent veterans on decline, Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Phillip Danault and a second-round pick that served to draft Alexander Romanov.

A follower of low-cost acquisitions, but with a strong potential return, Bergevin has always shown a flair for bargains. Ilya Kovalchuk signed a minimum wage contract provided for in the collective agreement. Tomas Vanek, Mike Weaver, Torey Mitchell, Nicolas Deslauriers, Mike Reilly, Nate Thompson and Marco Scandella have all done the Habs proud services while only costing relatively distant draft picks or marginal players in return. Jeff Petry, Joel Armia, Brett Kulak, Jake Allen and Joel Edmundson, who are still with the team, could also be placed in this category.

Bergevin and his assistant Trevor Timmins, on the other hand, leave a much more mixed impression in terms of the draft (see other text). The duo failed to get their hands on impact players and have often been criticized for their propensity to favor American prospects over Quebec players.

Last season, the Canadian, for the very first time in its history, played a game with no Quebecer in his team. The GM, however, made amends during the summer of 2021 by hiring three veterans – David Savard, Mathieu Perreault and Cédric Paquette – and by claiming goalkeeper Samuel Montembault on waivers.

In the last draft, the Habs also broke with their streak of previous years by drafting three Quebecers. However, this turn was overshadowed by the selection, in the first round, of defender Logan Mailloux, whose guilt in a case of sexual misconduct had resurfaced a few days earlier.

A wind of discontent then arose among the public, as much among supporters as among Quebec and Canadian politicians. Longtime sponsors even threatened to dump the team before Geoff Molson took responsibility for Bergevin and Timmins’ “error” in judgment.

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