After 32 days, the Montreal Canadiens have finally chosen the man tasked with the responsibility of leading the most storied and respected hockey franchise in the world out of arguably all-time lows in on-ice performance, league-wide respect and public perception.
On the surface, Marc Bergevin looks like a man who deserves to be trusted with the keys to this classic car in dire need of restoration. Upon his retirement in 2004, Bergevin, a born and bred Montreal boy, progressively rose through the front office of the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the more respected franchises in the hockey world in recent years. There’s file footage of the guy hoisting the Stanley Cup from this decade. Good enough for me. Even as far as physical appearances go, Bergevin just LOOKS like he knows what he’s doing with managing a professional hockey team’s roster.
I’ll admit, Bergevin wasn’t “my guy” throughout the search, though I didn’t really pick a horse in this race. I read a lot about the qualifications and profiles of the various candidates but took everything with a grain of salt because quite frankly, I don’t run in NHL front office circles and I don’t know exactly who has been instrumental behind the various successes around the league. There’s a lot of politics and agenda-pushing in the world of sports media so in realizing that, I just decided to back whoever ended up winning the job because that person deserves to be judged on the decisions he will make rather than the friends he’s made along the way. I have no doubt that a certain segment of media wanted someone who regularly appears in the tacky blue chairs on RDS’ L’Antichambre for personal reasons just like I have no doubt that another segment wanted a guy who supported The Team/TSN 990 since its inception for personal reasons.
Naturally, there are candidates I met with more skepticism than others. I shuddered at the thought of Vincent Damphousse taking the job for the obvious reason that he simply didn’t have any management experience. The same reason should’ve applied to Pierre McGuire but over the years, his logic and arguments gave me a sense of calm and confidence when envisioning him as the general manager.
In the end, the man who’s worked alongside respected hockey minds like Dale Tallon and Scotty Bowman for the last several years sure seems like a safe, and maybe the best, option. Even if he isn’t “your guy”, you’re stuck with him now so you may as well just get on board. Haven’t you had your fix of general manager-bashing for a lifetime by now?
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