The 2012-2013 off-season has been seen by many as the most important in the history of the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. The Habs were the worst team in the Eastern Conference last season, unacceptable result for the NHL’s most storied franchise.
Pierre Gauthier was fired as General Manager on March 29th. Much of the blame for the failures of 2011-12 were placed solely on his shoulders. For that matter, many of the questionable trades made by his predecessor Bob Gainey were blamed on Gauthier’s inability to identify team needs froma professional scouting perspective.
Even the way he handled Michael Cammalleri, who was quoted as saying, “I can’t accept that we will display a losing attitude this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no wonder we lose.” was seen by most as a knee-jerk reaction. Cammalleri was promptly traded in the middle of a game versus the Boston Bruins two days after those comments, to the Calgary Flames.
Marc Bergevin was hired as Gauthier’s replacement on May 2, 2012. After about of month of speculation, he hired Michel Therrien as the new head coach, replacing the much maligned Randy Cunneyworth. Cunneyworth worked in the most uncomfortable circumstances, but eventually was let go, along with his assistant Randy Ladouceur. Therrien filled those vacancies with Clement Jodoin, Gerard Gallant and JJ. Daigneualt. Larry Carriere returned to the front office, after his brief stint behind the bench, to resume his roles as an assistant GM and GM of the Hamilton Bulldogs. Bergavin then chose to hire Scott Mellanby, Patrice Brisebois, Martin Lapointe in the front office, along with Rick Didley, to act as Bergavin’s right hand man.
Bergevin began making on ice changes at the 2012 NHL Draft. As a result of their awful 2011-12 season, the Canadiens had the third overall pick. Bergevin and his staff used that pick to draft American/Russian center Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk, is both a talented and big center, a definite need from an organization perspective. Galchenyuk has played this season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, and leads the team in scoring. He was also part of Team USA, in their conquest of this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship. Along with Galchenyuk, the Canadiens drafted RW Sebastien Collberg and D Dalton Thrower in the second round, LW Tim Bozon in the third, C Brady Vail in the fourth and LW Charles Hudon in the fifth. Their sixth round and final pick was LW Erik Nystrom.
Bergevin further put his stamp on the club through free agency, by acquiring wingers Colby Armstrong, and Brandon Prust, as well as goaltender Cedrick Desjardins, and bringng back defenceman Francis Bouillon.
Bergevin must now address what to do with high priced, and failing veterans, Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle. The two amnesty buy-outs proposed in the new NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement should see the departure of both of them.
There is defintely more work to be done. There is still the P.K. Subban contract that needs to be addressed, but overall, the Habs line up is tougher and have a ton more character than they did just a season ago. Along with his players acquisitions, Marc Bergavin has restructured the entire organization, giving it a totally new identity.