So the Montreal Canadiens introduced their new general manager to the public yesterday, and it turned out to be now former-Chicago Blackhawks assistant general manager Marc Bergevin.
After spending half a day digesting the information, I still don’t know how I feel about it. I’m on the fence. Bergevin has some pros and cons, and I find I can’t be overly excited or overly worried one way or the other.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that said the new general manager should have the following qualifications: GM experience, respect, bilingual, ability to recognize great young players, willing to make big moves, etc.
Bergevin meets a few of those criteria, but not all of them. Let’s review them one by one.
GM experience: He was an assistant general manager for one year. And he’s been a director of player personnel for two years. And that’s about it.
Now, I’m not stupid enough to believe every general manager hire should have experience. But I think in this situation, it should be one of the main criteria. You’re asking someone to come into a volatile market and turn around a team that has finished last in the Eastern conference last season. That’s a lot to ask of someone that has only three years of front office experience, and none of them as the general manager.
Respect: It seems as he has this one, as there has been nothing but gushing stories about him since the announcement.
Bilingual: Personally, I don’t care about this one, as it severely limits the pool of candidates. But there was no way a new general manager wouldn’t be bilingual.
In case you’re wondering, Marc Bergevin can speak French and English.
Ability to recognize great young players: Besides the jobs listed above, he was the Director of Professional Scouting for the Blackhawks for a while as well. Apparently, he spent three years in the scouting department. So he should be able to recognize great young players. But while he was there, did the Blackhawks draft well? In 2008, only one player of seven draft picks have even played a game in the NHL (Ben Smith, a sixth-round pick, has played 19 games). They haven’t hit a home run in the 2009 draft (Marcus Kruger has been their best player from that year). And out of 10 picks in 2010, none of them have played an NHL game yet.
Even 2007 wasn’t very good. Yes, they took Patrick Kane first overall, but look at the rest of the list from that year: Bill Sweatt, Akim Aliu, Maxime Tanguay, Josh Unice, Joe Lavin and Richard Greenop.
In 2006, it was much the same. Jonathan Toews went third overall to Chicago, and the rest of the pick leave a lot to be desired. The other eight picks haven’t played an NHL game.
The problem with prospects, it that it takes some of them a little while to really make an impact. So I’m not knocking Chicago’s youth. But when you look at their team, it doesn’t really overwhelm me. And according to Hockey’s Future, “for all of the depth, there is no real star talent in the system.”
So for now, I’m going to leave this as a push.
Willing to make big moves: Again, since he hasn’t been a general manager before, I can’t grade him on this.
So you see, Bergevin has some pros (good at getting prospect depth, has respect, and is bilingual), as well as some cons (no experience as the head GM, no real stars in the Chicago prospects system).
So my stance for now is that I’m willing to give him a chance. Let’s see what he does this summer, and how he helps to change the culture in the Habs organization.