MONTREAL - Marc Bergevin will be a very busy man in September.
While the Labor Day weekend is typically a chance for workers to enjoy one last extended rest period before fall arrives, it will be the exact opposite for the players and members of the management group of the eight teams taking part in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Over a year after being named assistant general manager for Team Canada, Bergevin will join his colleagues in Ottawa on Sunday, just a few hours before the squad's training camp gets underway at the Canadian Tire Centre. After months of waiting following the selection of coaches and players alike, Bergevin is pleased that things are about to get going for real.
"It's shaping up as a tournament that will be really exciting for the fans - and for us as members of the organization - after many planning meetings. We're really looking forward to training camp," admitted Bergevin, who shared his input and expertise with general manager Doug Armstrong throughout the process, along with Rob Blake, Ken Holland, Bob Murray and Scott Salmond. "There's always a great deal of pride in representing your country, whether it's as a player or as a member of the management team."
For Bergevin, this particular experience with Team Canada is a first since 1994 when he patrolled the blue line and helped his country put an end to a 33-year gold medal drought at the World Hockey Championship. Involved in a number of discussions and meetings since assuming the job in June 2015, the Canadiens' GM appreciated every single one of the steps that led to the selection of the coaching staff and 23 players who'll try to defend the title that the home side won when the tournament was last held in 2004.
While the players know that a first-place finish is the only acceptable result, those in charge are also aware that the spotlight will shine just as brightly on them, too, over the next four weeks. At the end of the day, they were the ones who assembled the group, of course. Arriving at this stage of the process, though, has been a very enriching experience for Bergevin.
"It was very interesting to be a part of the discussions, to provide my point of view, and for everyone to share their experiences with the other members of the committee. It was a nice challenge," said Bergevin, who twice finished among the finalists for the NHL's General Manager of the Year Award since being hired by the Canadiens in May 2012. "We know that the expectations are high every time Canada is taking part in big-time competitions like the World Cup. We'll have to be well-prepared."
When Canada officially begins its title defense on September 17th at the Air Canada Centre is Toronto, Bergevin will be keeping a close eye on the Canadiens because things will be getting rather serious at the same time in Montreal.
With rookie camp getting underway in Brossard on September 15th and players then traveling to London, ON as the World Cup gets underway, and with training camp opening on September 22nd, Bergevin will have a lot on his plate all month long. He can still count on his associates in Montreal for updates, though, with battles for roster spots on the horizon ahead of the season-opener on October 13th.
"All of the members of the management team will be on the road for the duration of camp and the tournament," concluded Bergevin. "I'll make a few trips to Montreal and London along the way to see our players in camp."