NEW YORK -- Marc Bergevin has guided the Montreal Canadiens from worst to first in the Eastern Conference since he was hired as the 17th general manager in their history prior to the 2012-13 season. He was rewarded Wednesday with a five-year contract extension.
Bergevin's extension carries him through the 2021-22 season. He has this season and the 2016-17 season remaining on his current contract, which he signed when he was hired by the Canadiens on May 2, 2012.
"It's all about timing, but [Canadiens owner] Geoff [Molson] has shown me on a few occasions in the past that he was willing to keep me in Montreal, and at the end of the day, the timing was right and we got the deal done," Bergevin said. "Today, I think we're both happy."
Bergevin said it means a great deal to him that Molson thought enough of him to extend him before he even got into the final season of the initial five-year contract.
"It's very flattering to have a vote of confidence from him moving forward," Bergevin said.
The contract extension isn't surprising considering all Bergevin has been able to accomplish.
Entering their game Wednesday at the New York Rangers, the Canadiens were 141-68-25 under Bergevin. Their .656 winning percentage since the 2012-13 season was first in the Eastern Conference and fourth in the NHL. Their 141 wins were tied for third in the NHL.
The Canadiens finished first in the Northeast Division with 63 points in the shortened 2012-13 season, had 100 points and went to the Eastern Conference Final the following season, and finished first in the Atlantic Division with 110 points last season.
Montreal was tied for first in the NHL with 34 points entering Wednesday.
"[I'm] proudest to have a team that is competing every night, is among the top teams in the League," Bergevin said. "When I say top, I could say top 10 maybe. On any given night right now, I think we have a chance to win. It's a tough league.
"There's no easy nights anymore, and that we're able to win on a consistent basis, that's very proud for me and our players and our fans."
In addition to icing a winning team, Bergevin has put the Canadiens in an enviable position regarding the salary cap; they're a contending team with room to add a contract or two before the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29.
Montreal's contract certainty might be an even better indication of what Bergevin has done.
Goalie Carey Price ($6.5 million), forwards Tomas Plekanec ($6.0 million), Max Pacioretty ($4.5 million), Brendan Gallagher ($3.75 million), Lars Eller ($3.5 million) and Torrey Mitchell ($1.2 million), and defensemen P.K. Subban ($9.0 million, Jeff Petry ($5.5 million), Alexei Emelin ($4.1 million) and Greg Pateryn ($800,000) are signed through the 2017-18 season.
In addition, forwards David Desharnais ($3.5 million) and Alex Galchenyuk ($2.8 million), and defensemen Andrei Markov ($5.75 million) and Nathan Beaulieu ($1 million) are signed through the 2016-17 season.
Bergevin signed all of those players to their contracts. He drafted Galchenyuk with the No. 3 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. He acquired Petry in a trade from the Edmonton Oilers on March 2, and then signed him to a six-year contract on June 2. He acquired Mitchell in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres and re-signed him to a three-year contract.
He also acquired forwards Tomas Fleischmann, Alexander Semin, Devante Smith-Pelly, Dale Weise, Brian Flynn, Paul Byron and Sven Andrighetto, defenseman Tom Gilbert, and goalie Mike Condon through trades, free agency or the waiver wire.
"We have a core group that we have to build around, and after that you have to find pieces that fit in," Bergevin said. "There is only so much money that we could spend, and as a former player, guys want to get paid and sometimes you have to make hard decisions. Sometimes, they're decisions that are not popular, but at the end of the day, you have to do what is best for the organization. That's a tough part of the job."
Bergevin has done it well. He was rewarded for his efforts Wednesday.
"Marc is an excellent general manager who quickly made an impact in the League with his leadership skills and his ability to identify the needs and find the personnel to assemble a championship team," Molson said in a statement. "I am very pleased with his work and the results he has achieved since his appointment as general manager."