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 – August 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.