Habs' GM Marc Bergevin, coach Michel Therrien to keep jobs despite disastrous season
Team suffered meltdown after Price injury
Anyone waiting for heads to roll after the Montreal Canadiens missed the playoffs will be left with an empty basket.
Team president Geoff Molson said Monday that general manager Marc Bergevin is his man.
And Bergevin said Michel Therrien will keep his job as head coach despite a horrific collapse that saw the Canadiens excluded from the post-season for only the second time in nine years.
Bergevin also cautioned that, while he'll do his best to improve the squad in the off-season, there is no guarantee he'll find scoring help through trades or the free agent market.
"Given what we went through in the last six months, to panic and change everything, I'm not ready to do that," said Bergevin. "I'll look at every aspect of the organization to see where we can improve, but to turn everything upside down? No."
Subban won't be traded before no-trade clause kicks in
He also shot down talk of trading star defenceman P.K. Subban before his no-trade clause kicks in next season, saying he never considered it and that it would take an extreme offer from another club for him to part to with any of his top players.
The only change to the coaching staff is dropping consultant Craig Ramsey. Assistants Clement Jodoin, J.J. Daigneault, Stephane Waite and Daniel Lacroix are staying on, as is Sylvain Lefebvre, who remains coach of the St. John's IceCaps of the American Hockey League despite repeatedly missing the playoffs.
Retaining Therrien as coach won't be popular. Ninety per cent of fans in one poll wanted him axed.
The fourth-year coach took heat for failing to find ways to win games after star goalie Carey Price suffered a season-ending right knee ligament injury on Nov. 25. The Canadiens were 19-4-3 and in first place overall on Dec. 2, but then went into a tailspin.
They played well but started losing regularly in December, then came apart in January as injuries piled up, especially on defence.
"I believe with a healthy Carey Price we're not sitting here today," said Bergevin. "Yes, we need to get better in some aspects of our game and we will address it.
"Last year we had 110 points. I'm not ready to throw people out the door based on what happened this year. Nobody is walking away with a clean slate, but we have to break down what happened. Michel learned a lot. We all learned. We're not happy. It's my job to address this team moving forward, but Michel will be behind the bench on opening night."
Bergevin believes that with Price healthy and with talented core that includes Subban and Andrei Markov on defence and captain Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher up front, the Canadiens have the tools to go far in the playoffs.
Bergevin couldn't supply team with offence
On the positive side, other players stepped forward, including 2012 third-overall draft pick Alex Galchenyuk, who finally emerged as a top-line centre and produced a 30-goal season. Defenceman Greg Pateryn and winger Paul Byron also impressed.
Therrien lauded rookie goalie Mike Condon, who was thrust into the starting job and had some strong moments, and gritty winger Daniel Carr.
The trouble started last summer, when all Bergevin came up with to boost a so-so attack was Alexander Semin, who was a bust, and Zach Kassian, who was in a car crash during training camp and had to go into substance abuse rehab before he was traded.
Also, Pacioretty had a rough first season as team captain.
"I know our leadership, from myself and the team, has to be better," said Pacioretty. "We were in position to make the playoffs and really make some noise.
"We were rolling and I think we lost confidence and started to feel bad for ourselves and, at the end of the day, leadership has to do a better job of handling that. It's up to us to learn from it and get better."