Long-time NHL defenseman Marc Bergevin was one of the great pranksters and quipsters in the sport. He added color to every dressing room he joined.
But now he faces a grimly serious challenge. As the new general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, he must rebuild one of the world’s most storied professional franchises from scratch.
The public relations portion of the job will come easily for Bergevin. After replacing the media-shy Pierre “The Ghost” Gauthier as GM, he charmed reporters during his introductory news conference.
“I played for eight teams, although I may be forgetting a couple,” Bergevin joked. “My luggage was always one team late.”
His immediate tasks include:
- Hiring a new head coach. Candidates must be bilingual, as Bergevin is, to deal with the Montreal media and fans. Patrick Roy has campaigned for the job, but reporters are wondering if Alain Vigneault may depart Vancouver after the first-round demise of his Canucks.
- Securing his key restricted free agents, goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban, to new long-term contracts.
- Beefing up the front office. The Globe and Mail wonders if Bergevin will hire mentor, long-time NHL executive Rick Dudley, from the crowded Toronto front office.
- Beefing up the franchise’s scouting of Quebec. Montreal has done a miserable job of drafting and developing players from its own province.
- Cleaning up the roster mess. Step One appears to be buying out useless center Scott Gomez, who counts $7.4 million against the salary cap in each of the next two seasons.