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Bergevin: 'It was the best decision to make'

The Canadiens' general manager met the media to explain the rationale behind relieving Stéphane Waite of his duties

by Pierre-Antoine Mercier. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski. @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

BROSSARD - General manager Marc Bergevin clarified the reasons why Stéphane Waite was relieved of his duties as the Canadiens' goaltending coach on Tuesday night.

Waite had been working alongside Carey Price since the 2013 campaign. It was under his mentorship that Price won the Vezina Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award after his standout 2014-15 season. The former fifth-overall selection in 2005 posted a 44-16-6 record, along with a 1.96 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and nine shutouts.

Nevertheless, Price has struggled this season, compiling a 6-4-3 record, 2.96 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage in 13 outings.

A change was needed, according to Bergevin.

"It's not an easy decision. I made the change at this point because I wanted to be 100 percent sure. Firstly, I'd like to thank Stéphane for his service to the organization. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was very important," mentioned Bergevin, during Wednesday's press conference at the Bell Sports Complex. "I gave this decision a lot of thought. It isn't based on this season only. I've also seen a pattern over the last few years. As the general manager, my responsibility is to bring the players here. My responsibility is also to make the best tools available to our players so they can have success. I think it was the best decision to make. We're bringing in someone with a lot of experience and credibility. It wasn't a change just to make a change."

Video: Bergevin on the new goaltending coach

Bergevin told Waite the news during the second intermission of the game against the Ottawa Senators so it wouldn't be a distraction for the team.

During Wednesday's Zoom call with reporters, he explained the process behind the decision and confirmed that Price didn't play a role in Waite's dismissal.

The Habs' starter actually found out about the move like the rest of his teammates following the 3-1 victory.

"As a general manager, the day that I decide to consult a player to find out what I should do is the day that this won't work anymore. I made a decision based on the tools I need to provide to Carey and Jake. I'm never going to consult my players," explained Bergevin. "Carey learned of the move after the game. I never communicated with Carey to ask his opinion. The day that I start operating that way, I won't be the good guy anymore. That's my role as the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: Merci pour ton travail acharn��, ton mentorat et tes conseils au cours des huit derni��res ann��es, St��phane.Thank you for your hard work, mentorship and guidance over the last eight years, St��phane. pic.twitter.com/4fdjhQJjGG

A man of few words, Price's reaction wasn't shocking at all. He took the information in stride and supported the switch.

"It was a typical reaction from Carey. He told me that he understood. He's a proud athlete. He wants to perform at the top of his game. He knows that he has to improve and fix some things," stressed Bergevin. "He understands that it was my decision and he supports it. It's nothing against Stéphane. We'll see what happens."

Why Burke?

Bergevin also revealed why Sean Burke is taking the reigns from Waite and assuming the role of director of goaltending.

Burke has been a professional scout for the Canadiens since 2016. Before joining the organization, the 54-year-old served as the Coyotes' goaltending coach from 2009 to 2015.

Along with his coaching experience, the former second-round selection of New Jersey played 820 regular season games for the Devils, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Los Angeles Kings.

It's safe to say that Burke has quite a resume.

"Sean did very good work in Arizona. He has experience and he played the position. He's capable of putting himself in a goaltender's shoes. He knows what it's like to have ups and downs. I based my decision on that," affirmed Bergevin. "There's definitely a mental aspect to goaltending. I think that Sean, with his goaltending experience, has been through a lot. He did good work in Arizona with Mike Smith, Devan Dubnyk and Ilya Bryzgalov. He has first-hand knowledge and expertise."

Tweet from @CanadiensMTL: The Canadiens have relieved St��phane Waite of his duties and have appointed Sean Burke as director of goaltending.https://t.co/hOXX0Jx5rK

The Canadiens' GM gave Price a vote of confidence as well.

"I still believe that Carey is an excellent goaltender. He's one of the best in the NHL," concluded Bergevin. "He needs help. I think an experienced guy like Sean will do that."

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