The Montreal Canadiens are headed for a third straight non-playoff season, and it’s time to make big changes – starting at the top with Marc Bergevin and Claude Julien.
There was good reason to believe that the Montreal Canadiens would return to the playoffs in 2019-20 after missing the postseason by only two points last year. But to say this season has quickly gone off the rails would be a massive understatement.
Montreal just snapped its second eight-game losing streak of the season on Saturday, defeating the lowly Ottawa Senators in overtime. But the victory doesn’t do much in the standings. The damage has already been done.
Entering Sunday, the Canadiens had 45 points, eight behind the Florida Panthers for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have a game in hand, too, so Habs fans shouldn’t be holding their breath.
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It’s simply time for the Canadiens to accept that this is yet another lost season and that a full-on rebuild is long overdue.
General manager Marc Bergevin is finishing up his eighth season on the job. No GM should hold a job for this long when his team is headed for a third straight non-playoff season – especially in a mega hockey market like Montreal.
The Habs are also set to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years. They were among the NHL’s worst teams in 2015-16 and 2017-18. The Canadiens figure to be in contention for the draft lottery again this year.
It’s not as though Bergevin has done much to help Montreal advance in the right direction, either. Just look at all of these draft misses in recent years (Alex Galchenyuk was his first pick in 2012):
Handing goalie Carey Price an eight-year, $84 million extension already looks like a brutal decision. The 32-year-old goalie is experiencing another down year, and given his age, it’s hard to imagine Price playing up to his contract.
Bergevin is the same guy who wasted money on Karl Alzner. He’s the one who also burnt bridges with fan-favorite Andrei Markov, whose void wasn’t replaced after he left for the KHL two seasons ago. At what point does owner Geoff Molson decide that enough’s enough?
Head coach Claude Julien can’t take all of the blame for the Habs’ shortcomings, but at the same time, he shouldn’t get a free pass. How many coaches get to hold down a job after missing the playoffs three years in a row? Especially when they coach in such a huge market?
Julien’s system is clearly outdated, and the Boston Bruins realized this three years ago when they replaced him with Bruce Cassidy. The Bruins have re-emerged as an Eastern Conference powerhouse since making the change.
A wise man once said that the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, where have the Habs gone with Bergevin for eight years, and how many more chances will Julien get?
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It’s simply long overdue for the Habs to make changes in the front office and behind the bench. By delaying the inevitable, ownership is just going to set this team back even longer. And the fans deserve better than that.