Rather, it is a review of the future of the CEO and the head coach.
It’s a popular sentiment these days among fans and some media to fire general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Dominique Ducharme. Frustration is high, so it is a natural wish. This season, the Canadiens have the worst record after 21 games in their 112-year history.
No wonder people want heads to fall. Some suggest that the president, Geoff Molson, has gone completely AWOL without the courage to handle it.
Here’s the thing, though. Timing is everything, and there is a logical timeline for these events.
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Let’s start with the head coach, where Ducharme’s sacking this year is absurd. The Canadiens are already out of the playoffs this season. The Habs should have a record in the last 60 games of 43-17 to reach 98 points. The best team in the league is probably not 43-17. Canadians surely are not. They don’t make the playoffs.
Therefore, it is not at all wise to start a new head coach during this already lost season. He would start his tenure with a three-quarter season that didn’t even matter. The organization would also pay another coach for absolutely nothing in terms of important games. The club would also have fewer coaches to choose from, given that the coaches are currently in the middle of their season and doing their jobs.
It makes sense that Ducharme would take this for the rest of the season. There is no motivation for a new head coach at this time. Let Ducharme finish this season, and then it is very likely that the evaluations will be done then. At the current rate of 48 points in his first full season, the president would surely be looking for someone else behind the bench.
While it’s not Ducharme’s fault, at 48 points you haven’t earned the benefit of the doubt.
This brings us to the time of change in other senior officials. While the head coach has to stay until the end of the season as there are no more important games left this year, the GM’s work continues in a season like this, and the work begins for the next year from now.
The plan must be that reconstruction begins immediately. This means unrestricted free agents like Ben Chiarot should already be in the market. The type of decision taken by the CEO should be more forward-looking than it is now.
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For example, young players who need ice time should take advantage. Veterans who are not part of next season are expected to be on new teams already, or soon will be. Alexander Romanov is expected to play a lot. Cédric Paquette should not play at all. The rest of this season is to prepare for the next one.
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All of that work begins at that point, so if Molson is to relieve Bergevin from his assignment, it should be done now. Bergevin cannot be held responsible for the negotiation time. He cannot be responsible for the draft. He cannot be responsible for the list at this time. If he has finished, then logic dictates that he is finished by now.
We wonder if Bergevin’s time has not expired because there is extremely important work for the Director General this year to do. He must get rid of any player who is not part of a future absent of two or three years. He must find a player for Jordan Harris, if he has decided not to get involved in the Montreal organization.
There is an impressive amount of work for the GM – and if he’s not GM next year, he shouldn’t be GM now.
Maybe even though Bergevin’s contract ends this season, Molson still has confidence in him.
Personally, the inability to assess defensemen who have been moving the puck for so many years is my bridge too far. David Savard and Karl Alzner as long-term signings have shown his preference for home defenders. He has never had a replacement for his best puck-moving defenseman Andrei Markov. Head scout Trevor Timmins gave him a good puck-moving defenseman, the youngest OHL defenseman of the year winner Mikhael Sergachev, so Bergevin could trade him quickly.
Bergevin never entered the draw for a puck from the blue line. He just doesn’t value them. He values who he was as an advocate. Bergevin has had a long and successful career where he took care of his own end and offered absolutely nothing on the other end of the ice, the way he likes them.
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It will never change. He will continue to make this blunder. Five years for Alzner; four years for Savard. As much as Bergevin makes good trades, and he does well in contract negotiations, he can’t build a squad because he doesn’t appreciate this absolutely vital defender.
If Molson doesn’t agree with me, so be it. It’s my right to have my opinion, and it’s his right to have his opinion. It is the man who calls. I’m just a sports writer who makes my own appeal.
My call is to relieve Bergevin of his duties now. He’s had a decade. It is quite long. Let someone else try it now.
If you can’t do it on the club’s worst start after 21 games in 112 years, when can you do it?
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after every Canadiens game.
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