NEW YORK – Marc Bergevin isn’t afraid of a little long-term commitment.
A few hours before the Canadiens hit the ice at Madison Square Garden looking to claim top spot in the NHL, Habs owner, president, and CEO Geoff Molson had some business to tend to off the ice, locking down general manager Marc Bergevin to a contract extension that will keep him in Montreal through 2022.
“First of all, I’d like to thank Geoff Molson and the entire Canadiens organization for this vote of confidence. Also Serge Savard, who was part of the hiring process when I was brought on in 2012,” began Bergevin, who met with the media just prior to his team’s 23rd game of the campaign. “I’ve always said the most important thing is teamwork. The reason I’m here today is because of the team’s success; it’s the players who perform on the ice, not me. I haven’t scored a goal or stopped a puck since I arrived in Montreal.
“I would also like to thank Michel Therrien, Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Dan Lacroix, Clement Jodoin, and Stephane Waite for the exceptional work they’ve done,” he added of the Canadiens’ coaching staff. “They’ve given me a chance to run this team for many more years.”
Succeeding in completely changing the identity of the Canadiens since his hiring in May 2012, Bergevin has taken a team that finished in the Eastern Conference basement a few months before he arrived and turned it into a contender that has not only made the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in the GM’s chair, but actually ranks among the Top 5 in the NHL in playoff games played, playoff wins, and playoff rounds in that span.
Heading into the 2015-16 campaign, the Habs also counted the fifth-most regular season wins in the league since Bergevin took the helm.
“Stability within the organization is important to me,” shared the 50-year-old Montreal native, who spent seven seasons in the Blackhawks’ front office – where he won the Stanley Cup in 2010 – after a 20-year playing career before landing his GM gig with the Canadiens. “Geoff mentioned it in his statement this morning. Stability sends the right message to our players, to our young players, to our farm team, and to our fans that we can bring results here to Montreal.”
Icing a roster against the Rangers that counted 10 players acquired by Bergevin during his short tenure so far, his fingerprints are all over the league’s top team. His first-ever draft pick as GM, Alex Galchenyuk leads all players from the 2012 draft year with 119 points and is one of just two players from that draft with over 200 NHL games under his belt.
Dale Weise, who arrived via trade in February 2014, is currently tied for second on the team with nine goals, just one shy of the career-high 10 he scored last year in his first full season in Montreal. Professional tryout signee Tomas Fleischmann is tied for the team lead with three game winners among his seven goals this season. Mike Condon became just the third goaltender in Canadiens history to win the first four or more games of his NHL career, posting a 6-0-2 record in his first eight starts, and Jeff Petry has been one of the Canadiens’ top defensemen since landing with the team from Edmonton at the 2015 NHL trade deadline. That’s not to mention the work of fellow Bergevin pickups Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn, Paul Byron, Tom Gilbert, Alexander Semin, and Devante Smith-Pelly, who have combined for 31 points and a plus-25 differential so far in 2015-16.
A finalist for GM of the Year honors in 2014, Bergevin stepped seamlessly into his new role as a rookie general manager. While he can already look back on plenty of accomplishments since he signed with his hometown team in 2012, he instead prefers to look ahead to what he and his team are working on building in Montreal over the next few years.
“There’s not one thing in particular that I’m most proud of, but the day I arrived, the team had just had a tough season. We know there were many reasons for that – the team had a lot of injuries and that played a big role – but with Michel, we’ve managed to bring some stability,” explained Bergevin. “The team has shown that stability with the way we’ve continued winning. Seeing our young players learn and progress is something I’m very proud of.”
Since he joined the organization, Bergevin has made a point of placing a premium on finding character people when he puts together his roster. The same can be said of the men he’s surrounded himself with in the Canadiens’ front office over the past three years.
“Teamwork to me is about guys like Rick Dudley, Larry Carriere, Scott Mellanby, Martin Lapointe, and Trevor Timmins,” stressed Bergevin of his senior vice president of hockey operations, his two assistant general managers, his director of player development, and his VP of player personnel and director of amateur scouting, respectively. “When I got here, Trevor was already here. I didn’t know him really well, but I realized quickly what a great asset he was to the Montreal Canadiens and how hard he works. A GM can’t be in a million places all at once and you have to make decisions based on the information you get without being there yourself. I want to thank all those people because, since I spend about 90 percent of my time with the big club, I need my scouts to help me know what’s going on around the NHL. Guys like Vaughn Karpan help me make those decisions and I’m here because of people like him.
“I’m just one guy standing here,” he added. “But there should be a bunch of guys standing here with me.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
General manager Marc Bergevin signs a multi-year contract extension
Bergevin press conference (Nov. 25, 2015)
Meet Marc (May 2012)
Pop Culture Quiz with Marc Bergevin (May 2012)