• Bergevin never thought of quitting
• NHL, teams "startled" by the corona virus
• Panthers considering breaking their core?
A few weeks ago there was a rumor that Marc Bergevin was thinking of stepping down as GM of the Montreal Canadiens. That he had enough, that it was time.
"I love my job," he said on Tuesday afternoon. “Every GM has different challenges. Montreal, these are the expectations. It's difficult to accelerate a team, and as best you can explain it, sometimes it's frustrating because you know what (the fans) want, you want to make it, but it's not possible. And especially at a time when there are many things – we were very injured, we were not playing well and could not win a game, we lost leads and … I am emotionally involved. I care. I take it personally. Sleepless nights, and I usually sleep pretty well. But then you take a step back and talk to people around you and then (you say): "All right, I'm doing it now. I'm fine."
"So, stop it? No, but sometimes it was difficult. "
We talked for 25 minutes, his last interview on a busy afternoon with television and podcast appearances. Let's do the quick rackets first.
As you have heard, Bergevin announced that Claude Julien will return as head coach. He was surprised that someone else thought.
"I realize that it is not a coaching problem," said the GM.
"Well, the news Claude had last year, I know we didn't make the playoffs, but I thought … We had 96 points, we had a really good season. The news didn't change. Where we are today, some get on my shoulders. I'm not saying that the coaches are free of everything that goes on their shoulders, but it also comes on the shoulders of the players. There are many – no fault – but adjustments that must be made for the next year. "
Post-season exit meetings obviously didn't take place, but I asked if he consulted with the players before making this decision.
"No," he replied. "Because I didn't think these questions would come. There are times when you have to change coaches, I understand. [But you don’t want your players to think,]" Okay, that was the reason (we had problems). We are good now. "For we all have to be better, starting with me, then with the coaching staff and the players. ”
Did you get close to trading in Jeff Petry or Tomas Tatar on the reporting date?
"Not even close."
Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world and tell the audience everything about what they heard and what they think about it.
Bergevin said he received calls from both players, but never started discussions about them.
Will he try to extend Petry if the defender is eligible on July 1st? (This suggestion was out there.)
"I have people in mind with whom I have to do this, yes, but I cannot tell you because they will use it against me."
I tried to trick him by guessing shirt numbers and asking if a key player's name rhymed with "Schmallagher" but they didn't work.
Is he expecting difficulties in extending Max Domi?
There was another rumor – when Agent Gerry Johanssen visited Price in January – that Price was unhappy and might want to get out.
"Never, never, never," replied the GM emphatically. He didn't even wait for me to finish the question.
Do you expect to be employed in the free agency?
"We will always look around. There is another GM with a lot of experience (Bergevin pointed to the room where the meetings took place) who says:" Do yourself and your organization a favor on July 1st and put your phone away. "
One of their biggest challenges is getting players to Montreal – be it pressure or taxes or whatever. A Canadian recently said he wanted to get it up and running there but didn't enjoy the experience and wasn't alone. If things go well, the rewards are huge. If this is not the case, it is better to have thick skin.
"It's not for everyone – it's fair to say," said Bergevin. "It doesn't mean that the player is not mentally strong. Some players are more sensitive than others. And as we know, in a market where there is more pressure to perform, it is almost impossible (especially) if you are more sensitive and careful to be at the top of your game in 82 games.
“I can see how difficult it is. I am 54 years old. I have more tools, more experience to deal with it. But as a 20 or 25 year old, I can imagine that it could be difficult. But some people love it. Some people, it doesn't bother a bit. Everyone is different. "
How different will the Canadians look like next season?
"It's difficult to say in March," he replied. "And I know that I will sound crazy, but I like our team. If our team plays optimally and we are healthy, I believe that our team is a playoff team. We will see if we can make changes to to improve ourselves. But to change something because we are in a market where they want to change something … and not get better, I will not do that. "
Bergevin is pleased with the defender Alexander Romanov, who is expected to arrive from Russia. The GM said there will be an adjustment phase for the 20-year-old, but told the player when they met in December that the Canadians believed in him no matter what happened this season. He is very happy with Petry, Ben Chiarot and Shea Weber. As every Montreal fan knows, an add could come here – on the left.
"Center was a problem," continued Bergevin. “With Nick (Suzuki), the way he played, we feel comfortable that he is a really good center. We believe (Phillip) Danault is a really good center. I think Domi is a good centrist. We have (Jesperi) Kotkaniemi and (Ryan) Poehling. Obviously, they're not at the top of where they're going to be, but they're going in the right direction. I think this position is a strength. "
He also praised Jonathan Drouin.
"Jo got off to a really good start," the GM said, adding that he felt Drouin was adding another level before injuries affected his season. "This is the yo we got when we made the deal."
Bergevin has a two-year contract. We talked about GMs doing business under pressure that they knew were overly risky.
“Of course, if I were released tomorrow morning, we would not have taken the team where we wanted to be because everyone wants to win a Stanley Cup. But overall I'm proud of what we've done. I think the organization is in good shape. Cap Wise, Prospect Wise, Draft-Pick Wise and young players. I will never do that to save my job and endanger the Montreal Canadiens. I have too much pride and respect for the Canadians. And for (owner) Geoff Molson.
“Every deal you make is a risk. But if I feel that (a bigger chance) it doesn't work, but it brings peace? I will not do it. I don't believe in buying peace. I love my job and if it costs me my job it should be like this. Because I want my boss to go to bed at night knowing that his organization is in good hands. "
1. Bergevin talked a little about player development – the time between design and joining your organization. How important it is and how much (or how little) control the NHL team really has. The timing was interesting. The league's agreement with the Canadian Hockey League is about to expire, and talks are ongoing about sending players to the AHL. It is not uncommon for this to be a debate. This time, however, there seems to be a dynamic. We'll see where we're going.
2. When he hears that referee Tim Peel will return to the NHL in Ottawa on Thursday evening. This is a massive comeback from a broken fibula. He should be out for the year.
3. In case you missed it, Jim Little – who was fired after only 54 days as CEO of Ottawa – released a statement. There's always more than you think, but the senators describe his behavior as "inconsistent with the team and the league's core values," followed by Commissioner Gary Bettman, who says, "It's not what you think or what was suggested “Little choice but to say something.
4. The ceiling of $ 84 million to $ 88.2 million is good news for the teams. You will have to spend more than expected, which is good news for players. Since the next season could have been a lockout / strike year, there was less money in the system and the hope that players would use their escalator closer to their maximum five percent. (It has been significantly lower in recent years due to concerns about the Escrow.) The NHL and NHLPA have continued their discussions about setting the multi-season cap, likely by expanding the first NHL year in Seattle.
5. A manager used the word "ghostly" to describe how teams and the league responded to the corona virus, while others said they tried not to draw conclusions. There is a team that canceled an exploration trip to Russia, although another said it was still going to go because this is such a great blueprint for their organization. Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the NHL had banned business trips for employees outside of North America. The Swiss league postponed the playoffs, the IIHF canceled events and there were reports of teams in the Italian playoffs who trained / took ice skates elsewhere and only went to certain cities for the games.
6. When Nick Cotsonika of NHL.com asked Dale Tallon how the Florida GM felt after losing 0-3 against Calgary on Sunday leaving the BB&T Center, Tallon replied : "I was pissed off," adding that the Panthers have not been the same since 4-0 defeat in Montreal on February 1st. (They've been 5-9-2 since then.) If Tallon is upset, you can only imagine how owner Vinny Viola feels. Viola has lost more than $ 100 million – from Sergei Bobrovsky to Joel Quenneville to Anton Stralman, etc. – and although visitor numbers have increased slightly, it is still less than 14,000 per game. The Panthers are in danger of missing the season four playoffs, and the question is, "What are the consequences?" There are many possible changes on and off the ice, but what makes other GMs buzz is the belief that the Panthers will strongly consider breaking their core because the mix didn't work. Was the Vincent Trocheck Deal just the tip of the iceberg?
7. In most situations, Tom Fitzgerald's deadline work in New Jersey would earn him the permanent GM job. This is not "most situations". Fitzgerald was said to be a legitimate candidate, but the devils will go through their search. Most interesting early development: I've heard that a person has been told they don't have the skills the organization is looking for. With this in mind, it's no surprise that former Vancouver GM, Mike Gillis, was among the first (if not the first) to be interviewed. New Jersey will only speak to unbound candidates until those under contract are later available.
8. If Fitzgerald in Newark is not the long-term choice, he will be a serious candidate for other openings.
9. I think the islanders were a team that asked about Joe Thornton. It makes sense when you consider that they are also interested in Mikko Koivu.
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10. Carolina targets George Strait for his outdoor game. That would be a good way. Cross your heart for it to happen.
11. Only Vegas has fewer home games than Columbus, as the Blue Jackets begin a huge swing through western Canada. Fourteen of their last 15 are alive against teams in playoff positions or rightly so. But they did it, currently in the last post-season of the East, despite an injury list that is longer than your right leg. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said Cam Atkinson is closest to returning, although it won't be on this trip. Kekalainen doesn't think his players get enough credit.
"We had high expectations of ourselves," he said this week. “People forget that we've had the fourth most wins in the past three years. Only Tampa Bay, Boston and Washington had more. Our core is pretty good. Earlier this year we had to face the aggravation of the people who were calling us out with the players we lost. You deserve more respect. I felt very strong for the group. “Jarmo doesn't hit a punch.
12. Kekalainen jokes that he is head coach Mike Vogt "Dr. Death. I tell him to go away from me. "But he adds:" Everyone has injuries. You have to deal with them. “I asked him if there is someone who has increased their game especially when it is absolutely necessary, but he will not go there. "I don't want to lift anyone above the group. This is about everyone doing everything they can."
13. Except for the injuries, the only negative on the team is a deteriorating relationship with Josh Anderson. The winger will not play this season due to injury. He is a restricted free agent who will be eligible for an unrestricted free agency in 2021. Although he can't play for anyone until September, there have been rumors that another team was interested in winning him now. Kekalainen did not want to discuss this, but said: “We always consider all options. He has arbitration rights. He is a great player and we miss him. But we have to look at what's best for the franchise. "
14. Like Bergevin, the Los Angeles GM, Rob Blake, said it was unlikely that the Kings would be free-hand because of concerns about the cap. Depending on how things go, July 2021 could be a different story. I thought he did a good job getting as many prospects / picks as possible, although Blake said it was bittersweet to see some of the Stanley Cup champions move on. Blake added that it was important to "wobble" on the assets received. "We didn't just want draft picks because they couldn't help you for a few years. We needed some players who were closer."
15. When asked about young players who have taken important steps this year, Blake said he was excited about the group at AHL Ontario and liked the development of Matt Roy and Sean Walker at the right behind Drew Doughty. "Blake Lizotte hit a wall because he never played so many games," but the kings are really happy about where his game is going. Finally, Blake Gabe mentioned Vilardi. "At the beginning of the year we could not have known that he was able to play NHL games this year. His development this season is very good for us."
16. I heard that after talking to Blake, but I think Pittsburgh considered Trevor Lewis before he started the Buffalo route.
17. I was surprised that there were no changes to the emergency goalkeeper system. I don't think it was unanimous, but the majority rule. The best argument for keeping it the way it was was a good one: that these are the people who regularly practice against NHL shooters in practice. (The day after David Ayres and Carolina defeated the Maple Leafs, he was on the ice with them.) Kris King, senior vice president of hockey operations, pointed out that some teams, when on the go, were the hometown EBUG for exercises if you want to give one of your regular guests a break. Another thing we learned: The league informed the hurricanes that Rod Brind’Amour had two options if Ayers was injured. He could put another player in goal or go with six skaters.
18. The desire to change the offside rule to "break the plane" is a victory for Colin Campbell. He suggested this a few years ago, but there was not enough support. That changed when everyone noticed that the onion was cut too thin. What also helped was data. From 2017 to 18, 45 out of 71 skate-in-the-air challenges were good goals, rather than unapproved ones. And the total number of offside challenges would have dropped from 214 to 143.
19. This drop is important. Leagues are always concerned about how long their games last. The NHL says the average regular season this season has dropped three minutes from 2:30 to 2:27. The two-minute minor for failed challenges is one reason. Trainers are clearly busy with it. From 2015-16 to 2018-19 there were an average of 225 reviews per season. This year we are at 133. The teams had a success rate of 25 percent in these four years. This year's rate is almost 60.
20. Jason Spezza does not see these last five weeks (plus possible playoffs) as the end of his career. He says there have been no contract negotiations with Toronto, but he wants to play again next season.
21. Something new I learned about J.T Miller: Every morning skate takes at least 30 minutes. "I have to work up a good sweat," he said. Teammates added that you can always hear him even when he's not in the same room.
22. Canucks players and coaches say Miller was huge for Jake Virtanen. "He's on me to protect the puck," said Virtanen. "He taught me a lot about how to do it right."
"It's just about thinking," says Miller. "He is tall and strong, but sometimes he thinks too much. I want him to be an idiot." Only he did not use the word "idiot".
23. Information about Jacob Markstrom is scarce. There is a lot at stake. The Canucks playoff position, the future of the goalkeeper. The exact nature of the injury is a guess. Lots of rumors, no confirmation.
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24. I think the NHL and NHLPA will look at the five-day breaks around the All-Star game to find out if there is a better way. There is a theory that it contributes to injuries.
25. On-Ice officials informed the league leaders that the coaches made a decision earlier this year where the first clash of a power game would take place. Now players do it themselves more often. I like it. It is a good sign. Players should have this creativity.
26. When Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid whipped through the Nashville Predators, the question arose: Who were the last teammates who were Hart Trophy finalists? It was Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr who finished second and third behind Joe Sakic in 2001. Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff finished second and fourth in 2004.
Of course, Nathan MacKinnon will have a lot to say about the Hart race. But if the Rangers make the playoffs, Artemi Panarin will get a lot of support.
27. Last team to win Calder Trophy winners in a row: the Boston Bruins, 1967 and 1968. Bobby Orr and Derek Sanderson. Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes can end this series.
28. Some of you are interested in contract minutiae. Chris Kreider's renewal had to be changed slightly since it initially violated the 50 percent rule. The lowest salary (the lowest salary years) of the business cannot be less than half the highest. Kreider's largest number is $ 10 million, originally there was a year with $ 4 million. Everything was adjusted later.
29. In this photo, Ben Cooper, then video coach of the Canadian team at the 2010 Olympic Games, talks to Sidney Crosby. He is now training the Herning Blue Fox in Denmark. This was not taken long after the golden goal. Cooper said Crosby asked to see a video of his historical score when they returned to the dressing room because "he couldn't remember how he got it." It was such a huge moment and it went so fast that it was too difficult to process. I wish I knew that before we interviewed Sid.
30. Mike Babcock's message for Team Canada. Something for you to enjoy.
31. Let's talk about Nashville. When the Predators came to life, many of us Canadian hockey snobs said, "Seriously, WTF?" Then, as reporters traveled there, the news seeped out. "You have to see this place." "It's one of the best road trips in sports." I laughed at a print reporter who said the hockey writers in his newspaper were arguing who should go there. Music and bars play a big role, of course, but it's a fun place with lots to do, whether you're single or family-oriented. The 2017 Stanley Cup final was a milestone for the league. Everyone has experienced how Nashville has made its unique culture a big part of the Predators' identity, and we've all seen the crowds outside the Bridgestone Arena for the open air concerts. All the best for the people in this great city and hockey success story.