I know… it sounds insanely ridiculous that general manager Marc Bergevin would consider leaving the Montreal Canadiens to become the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. That said, this quote comes from Sean Gentille of The Athletic: “He’s one of Lemieux’s best friends. Don’t underestimate that, despite the fact that he has one year left on his deal with the Canadiens.”
The article that features a list of about 16 different names — all of which Gentille makes an argument could be in the running for the full-time job as next general manager of the Penguins — sees Bergevin’s name stand out like a sore thumb. After all, this is a GM who just completed one of the most transformative offseasons in recent Canadiens memory and his team is seeing the rewards of his work. The Habs sit in second place in the North Division and third in the overall standings with 12 points. They have two games in hand on the league-leading Toronto Maple Leafs.
Still, Gentille notes Bergevin’s name in the conversation as though it shouldn’t be ruled out.
Stranger things have happened. For example, Steve Yzerman left a Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning team and became the GM of a Detroit Red Wings club that is going to be years away from contending. Insiders and fans suggested it was because of Yzerman’s history with the Red Wings but that’s not terribly different than getting a chance to work with one’s best friend. Bergevin also played for the Penguins on three separate occasions during his on-ice NHL career.
In both cases, the priority becomes the work environment, friendships and happiness over winning. In this case, the Penguins are actually still competitive.
Gentille also points out that Bergevin’s contract will be coming to an end and that shouldn’t be ignored. It would be one thing if the GM was considering leaving a cushy gig that he had locked in for four or five more years. Instead, a deal with the Penguins would essentially offer Bergevin an early extension and on the heels of some strong offseason deals. He’s bound to get a nice little chunk of change out of the move, should be interested in making it.
And, if this deal weren’t to happen until Bergevin was free and clear to sign it, interim GM Patrik Allvin could run the show for a season with Lemieux playing a role in key deals.
Canadiens Should Offer Bergevin an Extension
Perhaps this is the time the Habs should be thinking about getting their GM locked in. If he is truly a candidate for the Penguins job, he’s likely a front runner. It would serve Canadiens owner Geoff Molson well to try and extend Bergevin’s contract now.
On the other hand, maybe this is nothing more than a friend doing another friend a solid. If Bergevin’s name is in the discussion (even if he’s not a serious candidate), just being mentioned gives him a bit more leverage on an extension with Montreal.
There’s no way one best friend would do that for another… would they?
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