Habs Fever: Bergevin's defining moment is not going to be easy
Marc Bergevin, smiles on May 2, 2012 in Brossard, Que. (The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson)
Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Monday, February 24, 2014 9:47PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 25, 2014 10:46AM EST
Marc Bergevin had an excellent first season as GM for the Montreal Canadiens. Year two... not so good. The relief for Habs fans though is none of the free agent errors and signings he made has cost the club in the long run. There are no completely debilitating Scott Gomez for Ryan McDonagh moves here. However Bergevin now sits on the precipice of the defining moment of his tenure so far and it is not going to be easy.
The handling of Andrei Markov in the next two weeks will tell us a lot about not only the talent and skill of Bergevin, but also the philosophy of the rookie GM. Markov approaches free agency at the end of the season. He controls the puppet strings. He can go wherever he chooses. He can play the market. He doesn't have to take the home town discount after showing he still has game recovering from knee surgeries that would have halted the career of a man with less drive to keep playing.
Already we know that Bergevin has made an offer of $6 million to Markov through the word of Tony Marinaro of TSN 690. When it comes to Markov, Tony gets it right and somehow has the inside track on the events of this player. He was always first and right on the surgeries of Markov and the health of the Russian. I don't know how anyone got close to Markov. I've been covering the Russian a decade and I'd bet it all he doesn't even know my name but somehow Marinaro has an ear.
If Bergevin can't get Markov on the dotted line, then he will more than likely lose that player in the off season when in the summer Markov can listen to all offers. As a GM, if you're saving your best offer for the summer when you're the only one who can talk to him now, then you haven't figured out how to do this.
If Markov says no then the next step is either trade him or keep him and make a run in the playoffs.
This scenario is nearly an impossible one for the GM - his worst scenario really. The reason is the owner Geoff Molson never likes telling the fan base that this isn't our year. That the future looks brighter down the road so we're trading one of our two best defenceman for a draft choice or a player that will mature in 2016 - sorry fans, I hope you don't mind waiting. A trade is the rock scenario.
The hard place scenario doesn't look good either. You keep Markov unsigned for a playoff run. You try again in the summer, and you fail to sign him because you already gave him your best offer in March. No reason he will accept in June. And you lose one of your top assets for nothing when I think he can fetch a first rounder when that team would draft around 20 to 25th overall.
So in summary, three choices: Bergevin either angers the fan base now by trading him for the future; angers the fan base later by getting nothing for him when he declares free agency; or angers the fan base by signing Markov on the player's terms for a lot of money and probably a lot of years.
See you gotta be more than just good looking in a suit to be a good GM.
Should be fun to watch in the next two weeks.