Marc Bergevin is on the right track.
Montreal Canadiens fans seem happy. They seem confident. They seem excited for hockey again.
And it's only June.
Most of the credit for this feeling in the French city has to go to owner Geoff Molson for hiring new general manager Marc Bergevin. Fans are happy about the hiring. They are excited to see what Bergevin brings to the table. So now that Molson's work is done, it's time for Bergevin to step up to the plate. The 46-year-old is the Canadiens 17th general manager in franchise history.
In order to survive in the grueling Montreal hockey market, you have to please the fans. Bergevin must do this right away in order to be successful and not be scrutinized night in and night out. There is certainly a list of things he needs to do in order to get there, but there also a few things other things that he is already pretty comfortable with doing.
First of all, he needs to be himself. Bergevin is a funny character. He is outgoing and talkative. This personality is the opposite of previous general manager Pierre Gauthier. So far, Bergevin has won fans hearts just by doing this. He needs to keep it up and remain positive, even in a tough market like Montreal.
It might be a tough task, but here's hoping Bergevin can get along with the Montreal media, which like the fans, are some of the most harsh in the league. If Bergevin can maintain a relationship with them, whether it's friendly or even civil, this will please the fans. The media needs to be able to access Bergevin and find out answers. Montreal is a rumor city, so if Bergevin and the media can have a solid relationship, it will take a lot of guess work out. But, saying that, Montrealers will find a way to create some sort of rumor regardless.
Some of the more obvious things Bergevin needs to do involve the players. He needs to sign goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban. These are two fan favorites and key elements to the Canadiens roster. Bergevin knows he needs to do this, it's just a matter of time. Signing these two guys will put a smile on Habs fans' faces and make them even more optimistic for next year.
Speaking of next year, Begevin needs to find a coach to be behind the bench for the opening game. Reports late Monday night said Michel Therrien would be hired as the Habs' new bench boss. Therrien is the top candidate because of his close ties to Bergevin. Bergevin likes familarity. He will need to make sure fans put the same amount of confidence in Therrien as they do himself, even if this is Therrien's second kick at the can with the Habs.
The new general manager will need to instill confidence into his coach right away. He should also tell fans of his confidence. There doesn't need to be guarantees made, but showing confidence can go a long way in getting the fans excited. After a dismal season, the fans need something to look forward to. You can only go up from here, right?
Another order of business will come in a few weeks at the NHL entry draft. With the third overall pick, Bergevin and his scouts need to select a solid prospect. With guys like Mikhail Grigorenko and Alex Galchenyuk's names being thrown around, Bergevin needs to make sure (or at least to the best of his ability) he selects the right guy for the team. Fans will be excited about a top three pick coming into Montreal, so Bergevin needs to make sure he won't disappoint.
Another thing to win the hearts of the fans over this summer would be Bergevin signing a solid free agent. Zach Parise's name is at the top of that list and with his showing in this year's playoffs, Bergevin would be crazy to not go after this guy. If the Canadiens were to land Parise, Bergevin would be hailed as even more of a hero.
Bergevin needs to deal with Scott Gomez before the season starts next fall. Canadiens fans see Gomez as an eye sore and want him gone. If Bergevin was able to resolve this matter, either by burying him in the minors, buying him out, or trading him, Habs fans would have another reason to celebrate the new general manager.
His plate is full, but Bergevin is able and willing to take this on. He has made two good front office hires, bringing in Rick Dudley and Scott Mellanby, so he is on the right track. He just needs to keep the ball rolling and soon enough the Montreal fans will be nicknaming him Berge-win.