Title says it all, You all need to chill. This Habs team isn’t in as bad a shape as you may think. Some of us need a reminder of what went down on May 2nd, 2012. The day that our previous sack of potatoes GM Pierre Gauthier, was officially replaced by Marc Bergevin. When Geoff Molson was introducing Marc to the media in Montreal he said, and I quote,
“Today is the first step towards establishing a winning culture within our organization. Our priorities are as follows: improve the team in the short-term, re-establish a winning culture over the long-term, give our fans what they deserve, the best possible product on the ice, and establish stability in all areas of the organization.”
He also said that he wasn’t going to rush into anything. Marc preached patience, he wanted to build the team the right way. Through the draft and trading, not through free agency. “If you look at teams like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Boston and St. Louis you’ll see that they all built through the draft and are now perennial contenders”. This team needing to add character and size was also mentioned during that press conference.
Now let’s fast forward to today, January 10th, 2014. Between a lockout-shortened season and mid-point of this season, Les Canadiens have a combined record 54-29-10 for 118 points in 93 games. Not bad for a team that finished in the basement of the Eastern Conference the year prior to the lockout. He mentioned the team was missing character and he was right, it turned the team around. People may not like who he signed, but they are serving their purpose. Brandon Prust and Francis Bouillon along with a rejuvenated Travis Moen and Ryan White have added that character and grit. A lot of people were and have been against the Douglas Murray and George Parros additions from the beginning, but that’s because we Habs fans expect too much, they are what they are, nothing more. Wanted to add some speed and scoring as well, he thought he had that with Daniel Briere but hey, name one GM that has knocked every free agent signing out of the park. Like it or not “short term success” has been achieved (due in large part to Carey Price having to steal a lot of games, but that’s a topic to discuss at a later date). A division title, playoff appearance and currently in a dogfight with Tampa Bay for 2nd behind Boston AND also a playoff spot.
I believe in that quote above, Molson also mentioned long-term success. Let’s remind that long-term doesn’t mean two years later. It means 5-10 years down the road, perennial contenders. That is what drafting is for. Do you remember what Mr. Bergevin’s job was before? He was Assistant GM to Stan Bowman in Chicago. He was director of player personnel. He knows how to develop prospects properly as he had a BIG hand in how good the Blackhawks are now. Marc and Trevor have done a marvellous job in drafting players. Looking at players drafted for the future he is addressing everyone’s concerns of size. Alex Galchenyuk, Dalton Thrower, Mike McCarron, Jacob de la Rosa, Tim Bozon, Brady Vail, Connor Crisp all exceeding 6” tall. Our future looks bright.
The patience. Patience? Habs fans don’t know what patience is. The team overachieved and now you want more. Doesn’t work that way, Habs brass are staying the course, If Head honcho moves Briere out of town that fast after struggling, how is that going to look when trying to lure other French players here. “Habs need French players!!”, while I might not necessarily disagree with that, why would they come when they see how they are treated after a drought (See Mayor on Desharnais). This team is plugging holes now and building for the future, I think the pros would know better than us when it comes to judging whether or not a player is ready to make the jump.
I personally don’t think the Canadiens’ brass expected to be in the position they’re in, so why rush to make a move when the likes Alex Galchenyuk goes down with a broken wrist? You deal with the problem from within. Give those young guys a taste. For a team that is building for the future, having a core of Pacioretty, Subban, Price, Eller, Gallagher, Plekanec, Galchenyuk is a pretty good start, then you add the prospects above along with the ones I haven’t mentioned like Leblanc, Dumont, Tinordi, and Beaulieu, why rush to plug a temporary hole with a trade? ALL GMs would be like a pack of rabid wolves jumping at the opportunity to sink their teeth into one of our young studs. Back off.
All in all, relax. It’s being done the right way and it takes time. Fans are getting what they deserve in a team they can be proud of, but it’s not going to happen overnight. Do you want a single Stanley Cup run or many?
Another question that seems more and more obvious when we talk about the good of the team in the long run: “Is Michel Therrien the right man to lead this group?”
By Sean Dempsey