Montreal Canadiens fire and hire, won’t trade for short term success.
On Valentine’s Day, the Montreal Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien and hired recently fired Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien. Canadiens fans specifically have not been happy with Therrien behind their bench for a while now and may have been delighted to see their arch rival and more successful team’s coach hired by Marc Bergevin and the Habs.
According to Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie on Twitter), the firing of Michel Therrien may have still taken place even if the Bruins hadn’t already parted ways with their coach. We can choose to believe, or not believe this, but either way we know the Canadiens asked for permission from Boston to speak with their recently unemployed coach a few days before firing Therrien. Therrien spent the last 4 seasons with Montreal, making the playoffs 3 out of 4 full seasons. The team currently sits at the top of their division, 6 points ahead of new coach Julien’s former team.
Claude Julien was fired by the Boston Bruins after 9 and a half seasons, during which the team won a Stanley Cup, and 4 division titles. The team has not made the playoffs for the past two seasons but currently, sit in third in the Atlantic division which would place them in the playoffs if the season ended today.
After pleasing the fans for the first time in a while, Bergevin said something that might not make them too happy. Bob McKenzie reported that Marc Bergevin said he is not willing to trade the team’s future to help the team now. (Specifically Mikhail Sergachev) Now, for most teams this would be a great mindset for your general manager to have. However, for a team like the Montreal Canadiens, the time is now. After making the blockbuster trade of PK Subban for Shea Weber last year, everyone thought it was clear Bergevin was going for a Stanley Cup now. Trading a highly talented 27-year-old defenseman for a slightly more(?) talented 31-year-old defenseman with a much bigger contract screams now. The Canadiens roster currently contains 13 players over the age of 27. This group includes the team’s best players; Shea Weber (31), Carey Price (29), Andrei Markov (38), Alexei Emelin (30), Alexander Radulov (30), Max Pacioretty (28), Tomas Plekanec (34). These players will be in and out of their prime within just a few years, and some of them (Price) are very rare pieces to have on a team. Having these players in their prime is when Bergevin should be trading off undeveloped youth and picks in order to acquire NHL ready players who can help his team win now. The Arizona Coyotes will be attempting to unload half their team at the deadline and would be a perfect target for the Canadiens in trades. Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata specifically.
Not that I’m saying Bergevin should trade Mikhail Sergachev because I know no Canadiens fan wants to see that happen, but for the GM to say he is not going to trade their long-term success to win now is blasphemy and he is wrong. This team can win now and needs to win now before their window closes. Waiting for their young players to develop can and will take more years than the Canadiens star players have left in the tank.