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Fresh off winning his poker hand against Seattle’s general manager Ron Francis, it’s a tired and serious looking Marc Bergevin who addressed the media this morning. He was asked numerous questions about a wide range of subjects; Danault, Kotkaniemi, Price, Drouin and Weber amongst others, but the questions about the captain appeared to be painful to answer.
Marc Bergevin didn’t hide anything this morning, he said that Shea Weber has a lot of mileage and that he’s always been very hard on his body. Currently, he’s dealing with ankle, knee and thumbs injuries and the GM doesn’t expect him back at all this season and even said that perhaps his career was over. Clearly, it was a tough conclusion to reach for Shea Weber and as a man of a few words, he had told no one prior to the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup final defeat, everyone knew in how much pain he was though. For now, Bergevin will look to the market to attempt to replace Weber at least in part, because it’s impossible to replace the whole package, the leadership, the experience and the talent. Both the free agency and the trade market will be explored and obviously, a right-handed defenseman will be high on the list of priorities, even though they have left-handed blue liners who can move over. He also added that he feels confident that he can use the money which was destined to Weber past this year as well, making me think that the odds of seeing the Habs captain back on this ice are rather small.
Of course, Bergevin was also asked about the decision to expose Carey Price and he admitted that it wasn’t an easy decision. Price came to see him and propose the idea after having spoken to Jake Allen about it and in the end, both the GM and Price himself felt comfortable that Seattle wouldn’t not be willing to roll the dice on Price. Bergevin said that only Ron Francis could in the end explain why the Kraken backed away and he also admitted that he did have a plan B in the event that Price had been selected, but that he’s glad that he doesn’t have to use it and the goaltender is still a Montreal Canadiens. As for the star goaltender’s health, the Canadiens do not expect anything major for now. Price will be meeting a specialist this week and he’ll be taking a closer look. For now, Bergevin said that he expected a 6 to 8 weeks absence. To me, that means Price will be undergoing an explorative arthroscopic knee surgery, which is the best way to assess the damage in a knee from up close, much better and precise than an MRI. Hopefully, nothing major arises and Price is back in the expected timeframe.
Unsurprisingly, Bergevin was also asked what the plan was with Jonathan Drouin and said that they had a very good meeting with him a couple of days ago and that he appeared to be doing very well, he refocused, and he will be back at the start of the season. The GM mentioned that when Dominique Ducharme took the helm of the team, we saw Drouin play his best hockey in the red, white and blue and that it was a shame that his game then dropped off. Obviously, now the Caandiens know why there was a drop in his game, and it’s been identified and handled so he sees no reason why the Jonathan Drouin from the moment of Ducharme’s appointment couldn’t be back.
On Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Bergevin was crystal clear, the young centre must find a way to be consistent, this would allow the coaches to know what to expect when they call on him and that’s very important. He also added that the Finnish player needs to get stronger and bulk up his lower body, which would help him in puck battles.
As for the pending free agents, he will not discuss negotiations, but he did say he would like to have both Armia and Danault back. It’s too early to say if that will happen, but he mentioned that until a deal was signed and announced, there was still hope, to see Danault back with the Tricolore next season. It’s also worth mentioning that he would like to ink Corey Perry to a new deal, which is sure to please the veteran forward who could barely contain his tears as he spoke of his team and what the players mean for each other.
For now, Bergevin’s first order of business is to build the team up for next season, there are big holes to fill with Shea Weber not playing, Phillip Danault perhaps leaving and Tatar’s scoring to be replaced. The GM barely has had time to breathe since the end of the playoffs, but as he said with a smile, that’s the price of making the final. As always, Bergevin said he was open to trading some picks if he feels a deal will improve his team.
This afternoon, at 1:00 PM, the trade freeze will be lifted, and we’ll see if the Kraken has moved some of their picks from yesterday. Then, at 6:00 PM, the schedule for the upcoming season will be released, really looking forward to seeing that one and start planning a normal hockey season.