What does the Canadian need? Patrice Bergeron

Last summer, the Canadian faced a wealth problem: he had too many centers for his first two lines. Except Phillip Danault is gone. Si Jesperi Kotkaniemi din. Their replacements failed to live up to expectations.

Posted at 7:45 am

Today, the Habs center line is one of the weakest in the National League. Despite all his offensive talent, Nick Suzuki ended the season with the worst difference (-29) of any center in the league. Christian Dvorak (- 19) followed, not far away. Not surprisingly, Kent Hughes wants to strengthen the team in this position.

The challenge?

Beautiful centers are hard to find like a magnolia that is blooming this spring.

“We believe the center position is the most important,” Hughes said Saturday. “Even for the forwards. We will continue to review options for improvement. But I always say, as an agent, that it’s very hard to find center players. Some have not yet signed [de contrat] for next year. Is this an option for us? We’ll take a look. Many things have to happen. Right now, we don’t have the payroll to attract someone. There is also a repechage. If we get a center player, that might change. »

Among the centers that will get their full autonomy in a few weeks, there are some players with quality. Evgeny Malkin. Nazem Kadri. Andrew Cop. Vincent Trocheck. Claude Giroux has the ability to play as a pivot, too. But there is one candidate who is more intriguing than the others. A center who has scored more points than any other Canadiens player this season, who is good on defense and has just finished winning the Mark-Messier trophy because of his exemplary leadership.

In addition, he is from Quebec. Even better, he was until recently a client of Kent Hughes.

Who is that ?

Patrick Bergeron.

Hey, hey, don’t throw all your darts at me at once. I know very well that Patrice Bergeron grew up in the Quebec region and that he was a die-hard fan of the Nordiques. I also know that Boston Bruins players don’t go to the Canadiens, and vice versa. I know all that. Except for the history of the sport, there are no surprises.

Stéphane Quintal, who developed in the Bruins ’first round, ended his career with the Habs. In contrast, Mats Näslund, he retired in the black and yellow uniform of the Bruins. Guy Lafleur played for the Nordiques. Ronaldo and Figo defended the honor of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. Worse: Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury left the Boston Red Sox for the New York Yankees as free agents. Sometimes, with a little money, the impossible becomes possible …

Unfortunately, money is a big problem for Canadians. To get new players, Kent Hughes would have to give up a big contract. It would be hard to trade Carey Price, Jeff Petry or Brendan Gallagher. Christian Dvorak? This is more realistic.

If the Canadian can make a little space under the salary cap, he could fight to offer a three-year contract to Patrice Bergeron.

Yes, that’s many years for a player who will be 37 years old this summer. Yes, a return is inevitable. And yes, it will take him a golden bridge to convince him to continue his career in Montreal, which is a low -ranking club. On the other hand, for the Canadian, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

Having Bergeron in the lineup will reduce the heat around Nick Suzuki, who, facing the best conflicting line, sees his diversity as the temperature in Iqaluit in January. According to Evolving Hockey, Bergeron has been the best defensive forward in the NHL this season. He is also the NHL’s top center in faceoffs (62%). The hopefuls of the club will certainly benefit from his teachings.


PHOTO WINSLOW TOWNSON, USA TODAY SPORTS ARCHIVES

Patrice Bergeron won this year in the face-off circle, winning 62% of his duels.

But most of all, Bergeron is an extraordinary leader. He is the perfect player to help the youth of the organization cope with the transition period that promises to be difficult.

His teammate Jake DeBrusk once compared him to the show’s heroic warrior Jon Snow. Game Of Thrones who always puts the welfare of his group before his own. A comparison that Bergeron appreciates. “I like it! I think Jon Snow is brilliant. He’s been there for the whole series. He’s the main character of the show. He thinks of people first. He does everything well,” he told me before Stanley Cup final in 2019.

A few weeks ago, Brad Marchand explained to local media how Bergeron was exercising his leadership in the locker room.

He brings a lot to the team, on and off the ice. He is in control of the locker room and the players ’bank. He is able to have the pulse of the players. To find out how the men on the ice feel. He knew how to approach them.

Brad Marchand, about Patrice Bergeron

Their teammate David Pastrnak told a funny anecdote about it recently on the podcast Spittin ‘Chiclets.

” [Brad] and me, we love each other. But sometimes, at the ice rink, we screamed one after another. Bergeron once sat between us. Marchy and I revived for 30 seconds. Bergy launched: “That’s enough!” And there was silence. Absolute silence. We did not speak until our next meeting. Amazing. I consider myself lucky to be his partner on the line, and to learn from him every day. »

Another advantage of getting Bergeron this summer?

His retirement is near. He’s not ruling out getting it this summer. If he decides to pursue his career, and he does so in Montreal, the Canadiens are in a better position in two or three years to recruit him to their management team.

So, is this a realistic scenario?

There’s enough if to bottle Paris, London, New York and Tokyo. If you do not try you will not succeed. It has value if you try.

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