Canadiens Brendan Gallagher praises Marc Bergevin – .

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Canadiens Brendan Gallagher praises Marc Bergevin – .


The veteran forward adds that he is not sure he wants to stay if the Canadiens plan a rebuild under the direction of a new management team.

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After the Canadiens’ 2-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night at the Bell Center, Brendan Gallagher was asked what he thought of former general manager Marc Bergevin, who was fired on Sunday.

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Gallagher responded with a response that lasted over two minutes.

“First of all, I know he released a statement saying thank you to pretty much everyone,” Gallagher said. “But from my perspective, he’s a man I can’t thank enough. I have been with him for almost a decade. I finished my freshman year in the league, there probably aren’t many GMs who would have wanted to keep an undersized fifth-round pick that he really had no connection with. But he gave me a chance and since then he’s always been someone I could count on. Whether you struggled on the ice or off, he was someone you could have a real conversation with. He was someone who, no matter when he was talking or you were talking to him, he listened and he really cared about him. His only goal, every move he made for a decade was to help players be successful on the ice and give us a chance to win and that’s something I can’t thank him enough for.

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“We’ve had really good seasons, we’ve had tough seasons here,” added Gallagher, barely stopping to catch his breath during his response. “We have always followed these difficult seasons with solutions because he was able to sit there and hear our opinions and really trusted us and really listened to us. He was just someone you could count on. And when you think about what he’s been doing here for nine and a half years, first of all, it’s an accomplishment in itself in this market. Few CEOs can say that. But we had very good, very good competitive teams. Made a conference final, made a Stanley Cup final and like I said he’s just someone you can’t thank enough. The passion he showed – I know you got to see some of his speeches – we have a lot of it. It meant a lot to us as players. The loyalty he showed us, all he did was help us players be successful. I know from our perspective, whenever I get the chance to see it, I will make sure to say it. But I hope everyone in this city understands how much he cared about this organization, how much he cared about this team. In the future, I hope he knows how much we enjoyed him.

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There is no doubt that Bergevin will appreciate Gallagher’s response.

Pierre Gauthier was the team’s general manager when the Canadiens selected Gallagher in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. Bergevin became general manager two years later and was in charge when Gallagher made his NHL debut in 2012.

“He’s just someone I trust and I know he’s someone who obviously cares about us as players individually,” Gallagher said of Bergevin. “He wanted us to be successful, but he also wanted us to be happy off the ice. You haven’t heard much about it, a lot of things that have happened. There are some tough times as players that you go through and he was always someone who whenever I needed a chat he was always there and he was real, he was honest. It always seemed like the right thing to say or the right thing to hear. He always helped me find my game or get off the ice. Either way, he was just someone I could always count on. It is a relationship that we will continue to have in the future.

It was Bergevin who signed last year with Gallagher for a six-year, US $ 39 million contract extension that began this season. At his press conference to announce the signing, Bergevin almost cried twice as he spoke about what Gallagher means to Canadians.

“This guy is everything you want from a hockey player,” Bergevin said at the time. “That’s what I like about him. There aren’t many Brendan Gallaghers in the National Hockey League. He is someone special. You like him on your team and you play against him, you just don’t like him. He is special. … He’s a hockey player in his bones and that’s what I love about him.

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Gallagher still remembers that day.

“It meant a lot,” he said of Bergevin’s reaction. “First of all, I know you know a little bit about it, but it was a pretty intense negotiation. I was not on those phone calls, but between my agent and the team. He’s a hell of a negotiator and everyone who has lived through him says the same thing. There have been ups and downs with that too. One thing I really enjoyed was in the middle where it maybe seemed to go off the rails a bit. Berg called me and we just had a conversation and we chatted about what was going on. These are things that can sometimes get lost in translation when the agent is dealing with management. Berg just called me and we talked about it. These are things that I think a lot of players don’t get the opportunity to have.

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“I can’t thank him enough,” added Gallagher. “It meant a lot, but I was very aware of how much he cared for us and me and it was definitely returned to him. … I am truly grateful to have been able to play under him as boss for almost a decade. You know he’s going to do great things. He will have another chance here because he deserves it. We are just grateful for the work he has done.

Ready for a rebuild?

Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson said Monday he was ready to consider a rebuild if that’s what Jeff Gorton, the new executive vice president of hockey operations, and whoever’s next GM is, believe this is the best thing to do in the future.

“I’m not afraid of that word and I think our fans wouldn’t be afraid of that word either,” Molson said.

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But at 29, it’s a word Gallagher might be afraid to hear.

“It’s my 10th season now,” Gallagher said when asked if it was possible to rebuild and if he would want to be there for it. “I always came with the hope of winning. I felt like my teammates had the same goal, I felt management had the same goal and sometimes organizations go through these things. I guess these are conversations that should probably take place later. But for me, I play this game to win. It’s really the only way for me to take advantage of it.

“You don’t always have to win every game, but the important thing is that I need to feel like we’re trying to win,” Gallagher added. “I need to feel like it’s important. If this is the decision they want to make, these are probably conversations you will need to have in the future. But so far, it’s not really something I’ve given much thought to. I still feel like it’s an organization that I really like… which is probably not strong enough with it. I love this city, I love everything. … It would definitely be a tough decision and, like I said, a conversation you must have. But I love to be here and it is above all.

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