Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Parsing the Montréal Canadiens end-of-season press conference

Walt here. Last Wednesday, at the end of "Re P.K. Subban - Told ya so!", Poor Len Canayen said he wouldn't be back on WWW unless something spectacular happened in the off-season. Yesterday Canadiens General Manager did the customary end-of-season presser, flanked by the club's President Geoff Molson and coach Michel Therrien. Nothing spectacular happened so it's up to me to give Habs fans a quick update.

In what the Gazoo called "full damage control mode", M Bergevin said he had great confidence in the coaching staff -- including those directing the AHL farm team -- and everybody would be back, except for... wait for it... Craig Ramsay, brought in last year as "power play consultant". Mr. Ramsay happens to be the only anglophone on the staff, but that had nothing to do with his being let go.

When it came to the players, M Bergevin said his job was to improve the team. Right. When asked if P.K. Subban was on the market, M Bergevin said no, he was not, but stopped short of calling The One Who Must Not Be Criticized "untouchable". Here, in English, is what he said. "Wayne Gretzky was traded [at the height of his career]. Am I trying to move P.K. Subban? No. Am I trying to move Carey Price? No. Am I trying to move Max Pacioretty? No. Is my job to make this team better? Yes. To move any of these guys, including P.K., it would have to be something very special. And as a hockey man, I have to look at my options. But is that reality? Probably not. But if I don’t look at all my options, I’m not doing my job as a general manager." Clear enough?

Mr. Subban is two years into an eight-year, C$72-million (= US$55 million) contract and has a no-trade clause that kicks in on July 1st. How much time and persuasion will it take M Bergevin to talk some other team -- the Maple Laffs perhaps or the Edmonton Spoilers -- into making room on their payroll for that huge salary, and room in their dressing-room for that huge ego? The mind boggles. But for M Bergevin, that's clearly the task at hand.

À lire: "P.K. Subban sous la loupe", Guillaume Lefrançois, La Presse.

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