Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Pleased As Punch With Bergevin

The overwhelming feeling I am getting from the Canadiens media these last few days is that they are a happy bunch. And why not?

To understand how pleased they must be, it bears reflecting on where they were just a year ago.

With Gauthier in charge and Jacques Martin installed as coach, the world of soundbytes and stories was getting to be hard work. Gauthier a man who rarely had a press conference, and when he did said nothing of substance, and Martin genuine in his plainness, just honestly taking everything in stride and wondering what the fuss was about.

I sincerely believe that that constituted a moment of panic for the gigantic media machine that has assembled itself to live parasitically off the Canadiens. Without the fruits of preferred access, without privelege of any extra information, what was there to be to continue to define the professional media with the amateur pundit?

With all access pass provided by full broadcast of every game and tightened communication strategies limiting all expression from top to bottom, the distinction was to stay at time and the salary commanded.

If the Gauthier way had time to fully establish itself as the way forward, one would have to guess that higher ups at media outlets would resort with the Canadiens press to many of the same measures they have implemented for the reporting of all other news -- syndication with copy and pastes.

I think we understood just how real this fight was for the media and just how dire they believed their own circumstances to be when the Markov affair unfolded last fall. Not many paid to provide elaborate coverage was able to scoop Gauthier on the status of the best player in town. They reacted as if they had been duped. Really they had been made obsolete for an instant. If the media genuinely knew nothing of Markov, then why would we defer to their opinions instead of the hordes of willing and even fresh-viewed amateurs who go about their coverage with more joy and reckless abandon.

The Gauthier removal was the blessing they craved, and I wonder whether or not they had their say. The Canadiens, you see, are not so far removed from the media machine that they feed, they certainly enjoy the reach and notoriety it can give the team. A paid crew will still write reviews on a season laid dead months before. Publicity that would not be guaranteed from amateurs fatigued with the thought of hockey in bleu, blanc, rouge.

And their relief was further enhanced by the hiring of Marc Bergevin. Never mind that he speaks French for a minute (although that certainly is important). The fact he is a personable character who seems to have no qualm with open policy is much more valuable to the machine. Today I read Bertrand Raymond's opinion on the matter and it reads like a Hallelujah. He even retreads every former GM he has known, praising those who enhanced his life and slagging those who did not. It's telling that Andre Savard comes out with a shinier review than Sam Pollock. The vilification of Gainey and Gauthier is a contrast to the apology he offers for the affable Rejean Houle.

So understand then that the media has more than one agenda here, or so it seems to me. I say understand, to you knowledgeable folks I should say don't forget. Bergevin will ultimately be judged for the hockey he manages to coax from a team he puts together, but that judgment is a way off. Until such time, it seems he will be cast in rays of appreciation just for smiling, talking and letting the media back in. I would think that the media being as pleased as punch with man in a year should not determine how each fan feels about the situation. Just my observations.

On the coach

I guess now Marc is in his chair, the attention of the organization and the speculation moves firmly to the position of head coach.

It's an interesting decision, and I hope to offer more comment in a full reflection on the topic.

I do have some preliminary questions/concerns:

What are the criteria really going to be?

I ask because M. Raymond rambled briefly on how HNIC misunderstands Quebec when they might suggest someone like Quenneville. His line: "Heureusement, le nom de Quenneville vient de s'effacer de lui-même" is a troubling stance for a fan who wants the best candiate available. Especially when it is followed by discussion on the glory years of Savard-Therrien.

I understand the importance of language as a factor in the decision, but funnily I look at the Cunneyworth episode from a different lens than many. Most fans weren't in constant uproar over Cunneyworth (well not until they realised he would lose more than Martin). The fanbase was surprisingly accepting, I thought, actually.

I all factors should be weighed in a balance. With the GM, I feel comfortable this was carried out. Bergevin won out because he was a serious candidate. He happens to be from Montreal, and this definitely weighed in, but it doesn't stand out as his main quality.

A candidate like Michel Therrien for me is a non-starter, and I'mappalled to see his name in the mix. Yes he did pretty well with the Penguins, but he has certainly been outdone by a fair margin by the newcomer Bylsma, and most of the time without the same arsenal. He was not in my estimation part of some golden age with the Habs, but part of a dark age, and I surely recall rejoicing at his departure more than any other. Would he be on a list that did not start with language? Not one you'd be happy to not have to include Quenneville on.

Anyway, enjoy the Flyerless playoffs and catch up soon.

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