Canadiens Fire Bergevin, Timmins

Canadiens Fire Bergevin, Timmins

The Montreal Canadiens fired general manager Marc Bergevin and assistant GM Trevor Timmins. Paul Wilson, senior vice president of public affairs and communication, was also relieved of his duties.

Former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL.com).

Former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton has been hired as executive vice-president of hockey operations. He will play a significant role in selecting a new general manager and head scout.

Bergevin had been Canadiens GM since 2012 and is in the last year of his contract. Timmins spent 17 seasons with the Habs and was promoted to assistant GM in 2017, overseeing their amateur scouting.

Under Bergevin’s management, the Canadiens made six playoff appearances, reaching the 2021 Stanley Cup Final and the 2014 Eastern Conference Final. He made several noteworthy additions via trades and free agents. They include current Habs such as Nick Suzuki, Jeff Petry, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Jake Allen, and Christian Dvorak.

Timmins, meanwhile, helped the Canadiens select Carey Price (2005), Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban and Ryan McDonagh (2007), Brendan Gallagher (2010) and Mikhail Sergachev (2016).

However, the Canadiens have had their difficulties in recent years. They missed the playoffs in 2017-18 and 2018-19. In 2020, they qualified only because of a one-time-only expanded playoff format due to the cancellation of the remainder of the regular season by COVID-19. They qualified last season because of divisional changes in a COVID-shortened schedule.

The Canadiens are off to one of their worst starts in franchise history this season, in part because of the absence of superstar goaltender Carey Price and captain Shea Weber to injuries and Price’s one-month stint in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program. The lack of leadership in the dressing room and on the ice has been a critical factor in the Habs’ struggles.

Bergevin, however, faced growing criticism from fans and pundits for the club’s poor effort in recent years. He’s also been taken to task for several questionable trades and signings, as well as the development of the club’s promising young players.

Some fans are still smarting over his swap of Subban for Weber, though that move ultimately worked out in the long-term for the Canadiens. Other questionable decisions include shipping Sergachev to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin, signing David Savard and Karl Alzner, and passing on re-signing popular Habs like Alexander Radulov, Andrei Markov and Phillip Danault.

Timmins, meanwhile, had more misses than hits in his draft history. The Canadiens’ most notable first-round draft picks between 2008 and 2015 were depth players Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu.

Sergachev (2016) is now starring with the Lightning. Ryan Poehling (2017) and Cole Caufield (2019) have shown varying degrees of potential but the jury remains out on whether they’ll reach their potential.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2018) was signed away by a one-year offer sheet from the Carolina Hurricanes in August. His struggle to meet expectations that dogged him in Montreal seems to have carried over with Carolina.

Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson was criticized by the Montreal media for his unwillingness to publicly address his club’s poor performance through the first two months of this season. However, reports are emerging that he had been considering front office changes for some time. At one point it appeared assistant GM Scott Mellanby would either replace Bergevin or take over as overseer of hockey operations. Molson, however, decided to go in another direction, sparking Mellanby’s resignation on Saturday.

By hiring Jeff Gorton, Molson is bringing in an experienced and respected hockey executive. He rebuilt the Rangers during his tenure as their general manager from 2015 until fired last May. He signed Artemi Panarin, acquired Mika Zibanejad, Adam Fox and Jacob Trouba and drafted Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.

Before that, Gorton spent eight years as an assistant general manager with the Boston Bruins. During several months as their interim GM in 2006, he acquired goaltender Tuukka Rask, drafted forwards Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, and signed defenseman Zdeno Chara and forward Marc Savard.

Whoever Gorton hires as Bergevin’s replacement must be fully bilingual. Sportsnet’s Eric Engels recently speculated whether Roberto Luongo, Patrick Roy, Martin Madden Jr., Vincent Damphousse or Mathieu Darche will be among the candidates for the job.

It remains to be seen whether any of them get the job or if Gorton goes with a lesser-known option. Nevertheless, change is underway with the Canadiens, which will determine the future of head coach Dominique Ducharme and perhaps lead to some significant changes to the current roster in the coming weeks and months.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 20, 2021

The Avalanche thump the Kraken after signing coach Jared Bednar to a contract extension, the Canucks get a much-needed win, plus the latest injury and COVID updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Cale Makar scored twice and collected an assist as the Colorado Avalanche thumped the Seattle Kraken 7-3, handing the latter their sixth straight loss. Andre Burakovsky also tallied two goals for the Avalanche as they collected their fourth straight victory.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

The Avalanche also announced head coach Jared Bednar inked a two-year contract extension. He’s two wins shy of tying Bob Hartley’s team record for most wins (193) as head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the rumor suggesting Bednar was on the hot seat following the Avs second-round elimination from the 2021 playoffs and their shaky start to this season. They’re climbing back up the Western Conference standings, sitting just outside of a wild-card berth.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko kicked out 37 shots as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets to snap a five-game losing skid. Conor Garland scored what became the winning goal in the second period. The Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied in the third period to make it interesting.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has tested positive for COVID-19. He will be monitored by the club’s medical staff and follow the protocols by the NHL and public health officials.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Yet another hit for the reeling Canadiens in what’s becoming a season from hell for the Stanley Cup finalist.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse will be sidelined until early-to-mid December with a broken finger and blueliner Slater Koekkoek will miss three to four weeks with an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, the status of injured goaltender Mike Smith has relapsed from day-to-day to week-to-week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The loss of Nurse will be a big blow to the Oilers’ defense corp. Smith’s status will put more pressure on netminders Mikko Koskinen and Stuart Skinner.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks winger Max Comtois will be sidelined for six weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a small bone in his right hand.

OTTAWA SUN: After five days without a positive COVID-19 test, the Senators are ready to emerge from quarantine and resume skating on Saturday. Their last three games were postponed as a result of a COVID outbreak but they’re scheduled to face off against the Avalanche in Denver on Monday. Eight of the 10 players who contracted the coronavirus will return to the ice today after completing their 10-day quarantine.

THE PROVINCE: The police investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against former Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen has been handed over to crown prosecutors. The police will be waiting to hear if there will be charge approval.

DAILY FACEOFF: Quebec premier Francois Legault will be meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the coming months with regards to bringing an NHL franchise back to Quebec City.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Easier said than done. The league has no plans for further expansion and there’s no indication an existing franchise will be relocated.

The relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg a decade ago happened very quickly as the league had to find a new home for the Thrashers after their dysfunctional ownership couldn’t find investors willing to keep the club in Atlanta. Perhaps a similar situation takes place with another franchise but Quebec City hockey fans shouldn’t hold their breath.

TSN: Canada is closing its border to unvaccinated professional and amateur athletes on Jan. 15. It won’t adversely affect the NHL or NBA as the percentage of unvaccinated players in both leagues is negligible.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, commissioner Gary Bettman speaks with Kyle Beach, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A shootout goal by Charlie Coyle gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers, snapping the latter’s season-opening eight-game win streak. Coyle also opened the scoring. Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy tied the game with a third-period power-play goal and teammate Taylor Hall collected his 600th career point. Anthony Duclair and Aleksander Barkov tallied for the Panthers, who played without Sam Bennett as he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog (NHL Images).

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 as captain Gabriel Landeskog led the way with two goals and two assists. Nathan MacKinnon, Erik Johnson and JT Compher each had two points. The Wild have dropped three of their last four contests. Following the game, MacKinnon called on the league to take action against the Wild’s Brandon Duhaime for a dangerous hit on Avs defenseman Bowen Byram.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 20 saves to pick up his third shutout in his last four starts to blank the Philadelphia Flyers 4-0. Sean Monahan, Elias Lindholm and Rasmus Andersson each collected two points. The Flames extend their record to 6-1-1.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Leafs goalie Petr Mrazek made 27 saves after missing six games with a groin injury. Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot each had a goal and an assist for the Leafs. Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno also each had a goal and an assist for the Red Wings.

Connor McDavid collected an assist to extend his season-opening points streak to seven games as the Edmonton Oilers held off the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected his league-leading 10th assist. Warren Foegele and Leon Draisaitl scored for the Oilers while the Canucks’ Brock Boeser netted his club’s only goal.

The New Jersey Devils spoiled the season debut of Sidney Crosby by doubling up the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2. Jesper Bratt snapped a 2-2 tie with a penalty shot late in the third period and teammate Andreas Johnsson netted two goals. Crosby returned to the lineup following offseason wrist surgery.

Timo Meier scored in overtime as the depleted San Jose Sharks nipped the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Seven Sharks players (including Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) and head coach Bob Boughner missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19.

Shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi lifted the Nashville Predators over the New York Islanders 3-2. Predators goalie Juuse Saros made 34 saves while Tanner Jeannot tallied twice.

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a six-game winless skid with a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Alex Iafallo scored twice and collected an assist. The hapless Habs are now 2-7-0 on the season. Following the game, they held a 20-minute players-only meeting followed by a visit by general manager Marc Bergevin.

Torey Krug scored the only goal as the St. Louis Blues nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. Jordan Binnington kicked out 25 shots for the shutout while Blackhawks goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 36 saves. The Blackhawks are off to a franchise-worst 0-7-2 start.

HEADLINES

TSN: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke with Kyle Beach yesterday about how the league can better protect its players after Beach came forward last week saying he was sexually assaulted by the Chicago Blackhawks former video coach in 2010. Bettman offered his sincere regrets to Beach and offered the league’s help with psychological services for him and his family.

NHLPA director Donald Fehr also met with Beach yesterday in a separate conference call. They covered the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program, which didn’t follow up when Beach reported what happened. The NHLPA executive board is meeting on Monday to discuss what happened to Beach.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets will soon face a decision with Cole Sillinger. The promising young forward has already played seven games, leaving the Jackets two more games to decide if they’ll keep him for the remainder of the season or return him to junior. Doing the latter means the first season of his entry-level contract will be deferred to next season.

TSN: The Vegas Golden Knights claimed Michael Amadio off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE TENNESSEAN: Long-time Nashville Predators broadcaster Terry Crisp announced he will retire after this season. The former NHL player and coach spent 16 seasons as an in-game analyst before moving to pregame and postgame shows.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 21, 2021

Growing speculation over Marc Bergevin’s future as Canadiens general manager plus updates on Vitali Kravtsov and Dylan Strome in today’s NHL rumor mill.

COULD THIS SEASON BE MARC BERGEVIN’S LAST AS CANADIENS GM?

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Marc Bergevin said in a “perfect world” he’d like to remain general manager of the Canadiens beyond this season during an impromptu press conference. He’s in the final year of his contract. The lack of details regarding an extension is generating speculation over his future.

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin (NHL.com).

Stu Cowan believes Bergevin’s answer makes it look like money and/or term are the sticking points in his talks with Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson. “It also makes it look like he won’t be back in Montreal next year,” said Cowan.

A recent report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks suggested Bergevin could join the Los Angeles Kings next summer. Despite his apparent lame-duck status, Bergevin insists he remains in charge and as always will run significant decisions by Molson. The club has declined to comment on his contract status.

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas noted Bergevin doesn’t intend to shake up his struggling roster simply for the sake of doing so. “I don’t feel the need. It has nothing to do with cap space, it has to do with the group we have,” he said. The Habs GM felt they have some “pretty good hockey players that aren’t playing up to their potential.”

TORONTO SUN: Michael Traikos recently noted there are rumors claiming Molson has tabbed Patrick Roy as a potential replacement for Bergevin. He also pointed out Bergevin reportedly had a chance to re-sign with the Canadiens this summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There were reports this summer of Molson tabling a contract offer to Bergevin but negotiations didn’t get too far after that. The Canadiens 0-4-0 start only fueled the conjecture over Bergevin’s future and the possibility he could be replaced. His recent comments, however, should put to rest talk that he was growing weary of life in the Montreal fishbowl.

Bergevin’s future will remain a hot topic if the Canadiens continue to struggle this season. Even if they right the ship and become a playoff contender, questions about his future (and speculation over his potential successor) will continue to surface in the media.

LATEST ON VITALI KRAVTSOV AND DYLAN STROME

THE ATHLETIC: On Tuesday, Arthur Staple reported Vitali Kravtsov remains in Russia, unwilling to return to North America unless the New York Rangers trade him, according to two league sources. The cause of the dispute is said to be Kravtsov butting heads with Rangers GM Chris Drury since their time with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Hartford two years ago.

Staple said sources indicate a few NHL teams have inquired about Kravtsov, more to get an understanding of the situation than to inquire about the Rangers’ asking price. A move doesn’t appear imminent.

NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks cites a source claiming the real reason Kravtsov wants out isn’t because of his relationship with Drury. Instead, he believes he won’t crack the roster because of the Rangers’ forward depth.

Brooks reports a handful of teams have expressed “lukewarm interest” in Kravtsov but there aren’t any offers on the table. The Rangers, meanwhile, were contacted by the Chicago Blackhawks about Dylan Strome (younger brother of Blueshirts center Ryan Strome) but Brooks doesn’t link that to Kravtsov’s situation.

SPORTSNET 590’s Nick Kypreos reported as many as 15 teams have inquired about Kravtsov. Among them are the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Regardless of the winger’s reason for wanting out of New York, it doesn’t appear a trade is coming in the near future. However, that could change with one phone call by an interested club.

The asking price for Kravtsov could be a second-round pick. He also carries an affordable $925K cap hit for this season. That would in part explain the interest from teams with limited cap space (Flames, Jets) and rebuilding clubs like the Senators.

CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Ben Pope believes the struggling Blackhawks aren’t doing themselves or Dylan Strome any favors by keeping him out of the lineup. He felt it could also hurt his trade value, though his exclusion from the lineup could be to avoid an injury while trade discussions are taking place.

Pope said the Anaheim Ducks have long had an interest in Strome as a young playmaker who could help their rebuild. The Senators were linked to the 23-year-old center, while the Canadiens, Rangers and Minnesota Wild all need help at center.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keeping Strome on the sidelines to avoid an injury that could derail trade talks makes sense. However, interested parties could prefer scouting his performance in game action before committing to a deal.

We know the Rangers made an inquiry thanks to Larry Brooks’ aforementioned report. The Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch recently reported the Senators kicked tires on Strome this summer but he felt they’ve since moved on. No indication thus far if the Ducks, Canadiens and Wild are seriously pursuing Strome.










NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – October 8, 2021

The latest on Jack Eichel (yes, again!), updates on the Predators’ Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg, and the latest on the Canadiens and Senators in today’s NHL rumor mill.

LATEST ON EICHEL

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports there are some NHL teams interested in Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel who are willing to let him undergo disc replacement surgery, others not so much.

Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (NHL Images).

Those teams are also telling the Sabres they want a conditional component to any trade because we don’t know what Eichel will be like when he returns from surgery, which could involve four months of recovery. LeBrun said the Sabres are willing to have a conditional part to a potential trade. It doesn’t mean a deal is imminent but another step in the process.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As LeBrun said, a conditional component is a big deal as that could help to facilitate a trade. What that could look like is anyone’s guess. It could involve additional draft picks or prospects, perhaps some money retained by the Sabres, or something else. What’s also important is there are clubs willing to let Eichel get the surgery he wants. Whether those clubs can work out a suitable swap with the Sabres remains to be seen.

EKHOLM AND FORSBERG

LeBrun reports Nashville Predators defenseman Mattias Ekholm and his agent have told general manager David Poile that they would like to shelve contract talks for the season if a deal cannot be reached when the season opens next week. Talks are expected to continue before next week.

THE ATHLETIC: Adam Vingan reports Filip Forsberg’s agent told him contract talks with Predators management have not started.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg didn’t sound like he was in a rush to start contract discussions during a recent interview. Ekholm, on the other hand, appeared keen last week to get a deal done as soon as possible.

The issue here is whether either player fits into the Predators’ long-term plans. Ekholm is 31 and signing him to a long-term deal might not be the wisest course of action for a club in the midst of what Poile deemed “a competitive rebuild”.

Forsberg, 27, will command much more on the open market, perhaps $8 million per season. That’s a lot of money to invest in a player during a time when the club is undergoing a transition. Besides, Forsberg might not be keen to stick around with a rebuilding club as he enters his playing prime.

CANADIENS AND SENATORS SPECULATION

TSN: LeBrun believes the Montreal Canadiens announcement that the future of general manager Marc Bergevin wouldn’t be addressed until after this season suggests he could be a lame-duck GM. He points to the fact Bergevin and team president Geoff Molson spoke about his future in January and an offer was made in July that didn’t produce an agreement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Bergevin is a lame-duck one wonders how long it will take for Molson to find a suitable replacement. It could depend upon the club’s performance this season.

The possibility of Bergevin’s departure will get a mixed reaction from Canadiens fans. Some have long wanted him gone, even after the club reached the Cup Final last season. Others have fully supported most of his moves and decisions. 

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports the long-term absence of center Colin White to shoulder surgery could have the Senators seeking a short-term replacement via the waiver wire or trade market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s confirmed White could be out four to six months. Don’t be surprised if the Senators make a move via waivers or trade in the coming days.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2021

Carey Price enters the league’s player assistance program, the USA, Finland and Czech Republic name their first players to their respective Olympic men’s hockey teams, Blake Coleman suspended, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price entered the NHL’s player assistance program. The 34-year-old had been recovering from offseason knee surgery. General manager Marc Bergevin said Price could be absent from the team for at least 30 days but didn’t rule out a longer absence.

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (NHL Images).

Bergevin said Price has the support of the club and his teammates. “Today, I’m not thinking about Carey Price, the goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, but Carey Price the human being,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will miss Price between the pipes while some fans are wondering why he’s reached out for assistance. None of that is important and the latter is none of our business. What matters is Price gets the help and time he needs to get his life and health back on track.

Speaking of the Canadiens, winger Jonathan Drouin missed Thursday’s game against the Ottawa Senators with a non-COVID-related illness.

Meanwhile, the Canadiens don’t intend on providing any updates on GM Bergevin’s contract situation until the end of the season. His deal is slated to expire at season’s end.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can read more about Bergevin’s contract status in today’s Rumor Mill. 

TSN: Team USA named Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Blackhawks defenseman Seth Jones to their 2022 Olympic men’s hockey team on Thursday.

Finland named Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, and Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen to their men’s Olympic squad.

NHL.COM: The Czech Republic named Tampa Bay Lightning winger Ondrej Palat, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek to their Olympic team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The IIHF requested countries submit the names of their first three players several weeks ago. Canada and Sweden submitted theirs earlier this week.

NHL.COM: Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman was suspended for the club’s final preseason game and their first regular-season contest for boarding Winnipeg Jets forward Jansen Harkins during Wednesday’s preseason game.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz will miss three to four weeks with a lower-body injury. He also suffered a lower-body injury in the 2020 playoffs and missed all of last season. The Avs also announced head coach Jared Bednar tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss the club’s final two preseason games. It’s unclear when he’ll return behind the bench.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators center Colin White requires surgery to repair a dislocated right shoulder. He’s expected to be sidelined for four-to-six months. Meanwhile, the club announced they’ve signed winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $900K contract.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: Panthers winger Noel Acciari could miss significant time with an upper-body injury.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian struck his head on the ice during a fight with Vancouver Canucks’ Zack MacEwen in last night’s preseason game between the two clubs. Kassian had to be helped from the ice but was reportedly talking to teammates in the dressing room and in good spirits.

NEW YORK POST: A power failure in part of the Prudential Center led to the cancellation of the preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders.