LAVAL, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson is squarely behind general manager Marc Bergevin's decision to trade All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban for Shea Weber.
Molson gave his full approval and backing to the June 29 trade that sent Subban to the Nashville Predators in return for Weber.
"For sure, P.K. is, obviously, we all know, an excellent hockey player and played an important role in the community as well," Molson said Monday at a Place Bell press conference announcing the Canadiens' AHL team will relocate from St. John's, Newfoundland, to Laval for the 2017-18 season. "And at the same time, Marc Bergevin, he works to make our team better, and I think all of the work he has done this spring to improve our team has been 100 percent supported by me. And that's what I pay him for, is to make our team better, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the evolved team on the ice and I think our fans are going to really appreciate the improvements."
Molson said he was not caught off guard by the backlash from Montreal fans who were upset the Canadiens traded away Subban, the 2012-13 Norris Trophy winner.
"No, I'm not surprised how the fans have reacted," Molson said. "I think that P.K. is a bigger-than-life person on and off the ice, and our fans love him, and still will love him, and I heard a lot of it on my Twitter account and I appreciate that. But I also appreciate what I've hired Marc to do, and that is to make our team better, and I'm confident he has done that."
Subban signed an eight-year, $72 million contract with Montreal on August 3, 2014. Molson was asked what had changed in the 27-year-old defenseman's situation between that point and the date of his trade, which came two days before a no-trade provision would have kicked in.
Molson said that it all came down to Nashville GM David Poile's trade offer of Weber, the longtime Predators captain and a two-time Olympic gold medalist with Canada.
Video: Geoff Molson on the excitement of a new team in Laval
"Every season things change and you see it in all leagues, especially in the NHL," Molson said. "And this is one of those situations, and I think Marc explained it pretty well, where it wasn't expected but a phone call came and it was an opportunity for Marc to make our team better, and I think he's done that."
Molson said he did not have to be persuaded by Bergevin in order for him to approve the trade.
"During the month of May and June and half of July, we probably talked about 10 times a day, and I know how he thinks and I know how he wants to improve the team, so there's no selling going on really," Molson said. "I think it's much more of a partnership, and I rely on him for his hockey expertise and he relies on me for advice in other areas, but his decisions that he has made to improve our team this year have been really good in my opinion."
In an exclusive interview, Bergevin told NHL.com's Dave Stubbs that he kept Molson informed about the Subban trade before he made it.
"Obviously, circumstances are a little different with P.K. There's one thing with Geoff: He's been good all along -- he leaves it to me to make the hockey decisions," Bergevin said. "I keep him informed. I tell him, 'This is why, and this is the risk.' Any transaction you make, there's always a risk. Always. Small transaction or big. And I lay it out to Geoff, and he tells me, 'You're here to make hockey decisions, so make this team better. That's your job.'"
Bergevin reiterated Monday that he has turned the page on the trade.
"No, you know what, I understand the question about P.K. I answered all those," Bergevin said. "We made a decision, a hockey decision, to go ahead with Shea Weber and we believe we have a better hockey team today, so we wish P.K. the best and now we're going to move forward with Shea Weber."