High approval rating for Habs' new GM
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY
|Marc Bergevin speaks to the media during his introduction as the new General Manager for the Montreal Canadiens. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images/AFP)
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - When Roman Hamrlik put the phone to his ear, he expected to hear a familiar voice.
Instead, he felt something squishy oozing down the side of his face.
Marc Bergevin had struck again.
Hamrlik was a young player with the Tampa Bay Lightning when he first met Bergevin, a veteran defenceman at the time.
On one particular day, Bergevin came into the dressing room and told Hamrlik there was a phone call for him.
"I went to pick up the phone and he had put cream on there," Hamrlik recalled with a chuckle. "I had cream on my ears.
"He was the funniest guy on the team."
Years later, Bergevin has gone from a practical-joking player to the hotseat of being the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, a title he was crowned with Wednesday.
For the Washington Capitals' Hamrlik and Troy Brouwer, two guys who are very familiar with the new Habs boss, they feel confident that Bergevin will do a nice job in Montreal.
"He speaks French, he's been in the league a long time, he's got experience, so he should be fine," Hamrlik said. "There will be lots of pressure but I'm sure they'll give him some time."
Hamrlik knows all about the spotlight of being in Montreal, having played for the Canadiens from 2007-11.
"It's totally different (from playing anywhere else)," Hamrlik said. "When you play with Montreal, it's such an honour with the history. I grew up dreaming of playing in Montreal. I had the fortune of being there four years. Every player should experience it.
"When you are winning, it's the best place in the world. Sometimes when you are struggling it's tough because of the media but that's hockey. When they see you are giving it all, they love you."
During his time with the Chicago Blackhawks, Brouwer witnessed first-hand how good Bergevin's front-office skills were. Bergevin was the Blackhawks' director of player personnel when Brouwer and Co. helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2010.
"He's very comforting in that he knows how to play the game and he knows how to treat young players," Brouwer said. "He did a lot for me as far as making sure I was confident in myself playing."
Brouwer feels Bergevin will be able to handle the heat that comes with being the GM of hockey's most storied franchise.
"Some of the criticism, you have to know how to shake it off," Brouwer said. "It's a big hockey market, he's familiar with it and I'm sure he'll do real well.
"You want your GM to be business-like but you also want him to be open-minded in terms of communication. He'll be very good at that. He's not that far from the game. Obviously, he'll be good at keeping in touch with his players."