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Canadiens GM weighs in on offseason

Marc Bergevin talks about Alexander Radulov, P.K. Subban trade, Michel Therrien

by Dave Stubbs @dave_stubbs / Columnist

MONTREAL -- Marc Bergevin, general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, discussed a variety of topics in a conversation with on Thursday:

On incoming free agent forward Alexander Radulov: When a player has been away from the NHL for four years, even though he's just turned 30 and he's played in the NHL, there's always a question mark. I'm not going to lie to you.

On July 1, everybody who went on the open market took risks. Everybody, either on terms or money. If you want to work on July 1, you need to understand there's a risk on that day. We took a risk, but we like the risk we took. Is it going to pan out? I hope so. I hope for the Montreal Canadiens and for the player. 

Radulov brings a lot of skill. We watched him in Europe last year. He was worth a look. I talked to Sergei Fedorov at length. What Radulov did [in 2012 with the Nashville Predators], and he acknowledged that, is he missed curfew in the playoffs. That can't happen. Can't happen. But I can tell you that a lot of guys have missed curfew that we don't know about.

So … there's worse things that have been done. He made a big mistake at a crucial time. He hurt his team. He put himself ahead of the team, and he knows that. I think he's at a place in his life that it's not going to happen again. 

On the return of Kirk Muller as associate coach: Kirk was here before (as assistant/associate coach from 2006-11). Our special teams last year, especially our power play, struggled. A good start, but after that we struggled. 

Kirk left us in 2011 and went to Carolina as coach, then went to St. Louis to work under Ken Hitchcock. He comes back with a lot of experience. My job is to make our team better, to make our coaching staff better. I believe Kirk makes (coach) Michel Therrien better, he makes (assistant coaches) J.J. Daigneault and Dan Lacroix better, he makes our staff better with his experience and what he's been. And he's a guy who wants to be here. 

On being the GM in Montreal: This city is all about hockey, 12 months a year. You saw our development camp scrimmage here this morning, the stands were full. They love their team.

One thing I've realized in these four years is that Montreal is not a hockey town, it's a Montreal Canadiens town. It's all about the Canadiens. They love hockey, but there's another level when you talk about their team.

On the P.K. Subban trade: I said at the press conference on June 29 that trading P.K. was one of hardest things I've done as GM of the Canadiens. No, it was the hardest thing. But trading any player is hard. You ask him to pack his bags and leave. He sometimes has kids in school, they have a house ….

People are going to say, 'They make good money, they should deal with it.' Yes, to a degree. But there's also a human side to that. That's why when I do make a trade, it's very important for me to talk to the player personally. I've lived it, having been traded myself.

On fan reaction to the trade of Subban: I've been really busy with July 1 free agency and, until today, our development camp. Since I was hired, I've been staying away from reading [media reports about the team]. Even when we went to the Eastern Conference Final [in 2014], I didn't read. I try to stay focused.

Is it worth it to get upset at somebody because he writes something? They don't know what they don't know. You can't blame people for doing their job and writing what they believe, but …. 

For me, I like football. I like to watch it. But I'm not an expert and I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. If they trade a player on a team I like, there must be a reason why they did it and I don't know the reason why. If I know, then I could have an opinion. Otherwise, I'm guessing.

On those who claim to know the mood and temperature in the dressing room: I played for 20 years in the NHL. I'm not guessing. I know how it works in the room.

On comparisons about the Subban trade being equal to the Canadians' 1995 trade of goalie Patrick Roy to the Colorado Avalanche: What did Patrick win in Montreal, two Stanley Cups? I've always believed that winning a Stanley Cup changes everything.

On this summer: I want to unplug. I really do, especially this year. I have to. It's been tough physically. Not because I've been running around but the nights were short, the days were long and my mind was always working. Sometimes, it's harder to be tired mentally. I'd say since mid-June until now, it's been really heavy.

On referring to coach Michel Therrien as "a foxhole guy": What I meant by that is this: I've seen it before, as a former player, where a coach would throw his GM under a bus to his players so he would look good to his players. 

With "foxhole guy," I meant a coach who's going to stand by his GM. A coach has to believe what the GM believes. The GM gives him the players and sometimes, the coach gets players he doesn't like, even if you're always talking to him, asking, 'What do you think we need?'

A coach and GM sticking together, that's what I meant by "foxhole guys."

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