I have a novel idea for Canadiens management — how about you come up with a well thought out plan for the Habs and then tell the world what it is.
I am the first to agree that the Habs’ drafting has vastly improved during the past couple of years after a disastrous decade. But what are they going to do with these prospects? What’s the plan?
I was thinking of this again this week reading stories about the New York Rangers hiring John Davidson as president of the New York Rangers, replacing longtime president Glen Sather, who will stay within the organization as an adviser to owner James Dolan. Davidson stepped down as president of the Columbus Blue Jackets on May 17, the same day that it was announced he was taking the same position with the Rangers.
It’s nice to see a team hire a president with a large body of experience. Davidson is a former NHL goalie who then went into hockey broadcasting before entering the executive ranks of the NHL. He was president of the St. Louis Blues from 2006 to 2012, before moving to Columbus to serve as president from 2012 until this month. He laid the foundation for two very successful teams in St. Louis and Columbus. The Rangers reached out for a president with 13 years of experience at the highest level of NHL management. Montreal has a president with no NHL management experience.
Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton is staying on board and he and Sather already made it crystal clear to fans where the team was headed when they took the unusual move of sending an open letter to fans in February 2018 saying the Original Six team was in full rebuild mode. And Davidson reconfirmed that this week.
“I like that the entire organization stated that they were going to rebuild,” Davidson said. “There’s no secrets to it. There’s no, ‘Well, we’re going to do this, but don’t tell anybody.’ This is something that has been very transparent and that’s a good way to go. There’s a game plan in place. The foundation is being built.”
Just to be crystal clear myself, I am not saying the Canadiens need to rebuild. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. But Habs owner and president Geoff Molson and GM Marc Bergevin need to tell us how they plan to turn this once-great franchise back into a contender. In spring 2018, after the Canadiens missed the playoffs yet again, Molson promised that management would be more transparent with fans.
But that hasn’t happened. It didn’t happen in June 2018 when the team failed to let the public know that Shea Weber had knee surgery until two weeks after the operation.
After the Canadiens failed to make the post-season this year, for the third time in four seasons, Bergevin at least admitted he was disappointed. But, as usual, he spoke in vague and oddly upbeat terms about a team that has won all of two playoff games in the last four seasons.
“No, we’re not happy, but we know we’re heading in the right direction and the message I got from my players today is: ‘We’re just getting started,’ ” Bergevin said in April.
That would make a great Hallmark card, but what does it mean? Bergevin keeps saying the team is in “reset” mode and not “rebuild” mode, but that’s meaningless. What Davidson said means something. The Rangers are rebuilding. They’ve been dumping older players, picking up young talent and ending up low in the standings so they can snare AAA talent in the draft. The Rangers have the second overall pick this year and will presumably snare Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko.
Montreal finished just out of the playoff picture and will draft 15th in the first round. In other words, it really isn’t a rebuild here. So is it win now? It doesn’t appear to be that, either.
Have you watched any of these playoffs? Can you imagine Montreal lining up against the St. Louis Blues or the Boston Bruins? No, neither can I. They’re nowhere near ready for that.
Yet it was confirmed Bergevin made a strong run for Matt Duchene at the trade deadline and there is much speculation he’ll go hard for Artemi Panarin and Duchene this summer.
When does Montreal expect to compete for elite status? My feeling is Molson and Bergevin aren’t telling us the plan because there is no plan. So maybe they are being transparent after all. They look like they don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe that’s the honest truth.
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