Bergevin has plenty of work to do

Geoff Molson (R), owner of the Montreal Canadiens, shakes hands with newly appointed General...

Geoff Molson (R), owner of the Montreal Canadiens, shakes hands with newly appointed General Manager Marc Bergevin. (REUTERS)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 5:31 PM ET

Marc Bergevin got the job as Montreal Canadiens' GM.

Now, he has a monumental task ahead of him.

But Rome wasn't built in a day. Getting the once-storied Habs' franchise back on its feet isn't going to be an easy fix for the 46-year-old Bergevin, who was named as the club's 17th GM Wednesday.

While Bergevin impressed Canadiens owner Geoff Molson and senior advisor Serge Savard enough in interviews, the talk must turn to action for him to bring the club back to respectability.

Not only does Bergevin have to find the right pieces on the ice, he has to find the best man behind the bench to replace coach Randy Cunneyworth, who was officially fired only hours after Bergevin took the job.

Though Bergevin will hold talks with former Habs goaltending great Patrick Roy, the Quebec Remparts GM/coach isn't going to be the only candidate. Winnipeg Jets assistant Pascal Vincent is also at the top of the list.

Should the Lightning decide to fire coach Guy Boucher (and that's a possibility) he'd be on the list with Gatineau's Benoit Groulx and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault, if he's given the boot by the Canucks.

Bergevin can talk about hiring the best man for the job but the coach has to be bilingual. Cunneyworth was thrust into a no-win situation by former GM Pierre Gauthier because he wasn't bilingual. That mistake won't be made again.

"We're consulting a lot of people. It will be my decision. I have my ideas. I know what I want. I also want to hear what others have to say around me but I will make a decision myself on that," said Bergevin.

Coaching isn't the only issue facing Bergevin. The belief is he needs to fire the club's pro scouting staff because the Habs have made far too many errors.

Not only was trading for Scott Gomez, who is expected to be bought out this summer, in 2009 from the Rangers a massive mistake, the Canadiens compounded it by throwing defenceman Ryan McDonagh into the deal.

If that wasn't bad enough, the Gauthier sent Jaroslav Spacek to Carolina last winter for Tomas Kaberle. He has two years left with a cap hit of $4.25 million while Spacek had an expiring contract.

No, the stupidity didn't stop there. Gauthier had a hissy fit during a game in Boston and sent heart and soul player Michael Cammalleri packing to the Calgary Flames for underachiever Rene Bourqure.

Yup, Bergevin has a big job ahead of him.

So, why Bergevin instead of NBC analyst Pierre McGuire, high-profile agent Pat Brisson, Tampa assistant Julien BriseBois or Maple Leafs assistant GM Claude Loiselle?

"There were lots of excellent candidates. When we had the opportunity to interview (Bergevin), it was very clear he was a leader, a team player, somebody who believes in communication," said Molson. "This was exactly what we were looking for. We spent a lot of time together in the interview, we went in-depth to make sure he was the right person. The longer we went, we knew he was the right person."

Bergevin better be the right choice, for Molson's sake. The people of Montreal are restless and they'll be even more upset if the Phoenix Coyotes do move to Quebec City next season with a team that's suddenly a contender.

"I'm not going to put a time frame. All I can tell you is my vision of this team has a good nucleus. If you rebuild something, you start from scratch," said Bergevin. "I believe the pieces are really good.

"Finishing 15th in the (East) means there's a lot of work that needs to be done but you have a good base. The foundation is there, you're not starting from scratch."

Bergevin may be alone in that thinking.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @sungarrioch


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