The NHL Is The Economy Class Of Professional Leagues

We’ve had multiple examples over the years. Cancelling an entire hockey season to shove a salary cap down the players’ throat. Expansion in markets that everyone knew would never work. Turning a blind eye and even encouraging sub-par officiating. Fining players or coaches publicly speaking up against anything the league, its officials or so-called “Player Safety” are doing, even if it’s blatantly wrong.

Speaking of the last point, the biggest irony (or hypocrisy) of the NHL is when you look at the Carolina Hurricanes’ behaviour since the Jesperi Kotkaniemi offer-sheet. The troll job this low class team has been doing to the league’s most storied franchise since the offer-sheet is classless and childish. But hey, “it’s marketing”, the team says. Yet, in a league where someone gets fine to state the obvious about refereeing, they let that happen.

Do you think for a second that a real pro league would let one of their bottom-feeders ridicule their most storied franchise? Do you think that the NFL would let a newer team do this to the Dallas Cowboys? That MLB would allow this being done to the New York Yankees? To borrow the airlines analogy, the NHL is the economy class of the airline, while other leagues are first class.

Oh but it’s publicity and interest in Carolina, the league will claim. Yeah, and prostitution brings cash too. It doesn’t make it right and socially acceptable when you respect yourself. And that starts right at the top.

Where is Molson?

It’s time for Geoff Molson to put his big boy pants on and do something about it. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised that he hasn’t gone public about it already, particularly if he spoke to Gary Bettman about it and the league hasn’t put a stop to this. I cannot believe that he sits there and accepts that a low-life team like Carolina ridicules his team like that! Where’s the pride? We know Bettman is a none competent, arrogant prick who will sell his soul for a buck but Mr. Molson?!? Where are you in all of this?

As a fan of over 50 years, having seen the glory days of this league and of the Montreal Canadiens’ franchise, I am appalled at the behaviour being allowed by the league. I am shocked that it has slipped that low, to the point of allowing this type of behaviour without consequences… severe consequences. But I’m most disappointed that the Canadiens’ ownership is seemingly doing nothing to stop it from happening. I guess I have more pride in this team than it’s ownership does…

Offer-Sheets Could Be The Last Straw For Bergevin

Weak Defense Makes For Bad Team

Offer-Sheets Could Be The Last Straw For Bergevin

While legal in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, we don’t often see players signed to offer-sheets. There are a couple of reasons for that. For one, those players often have not reached their full potential and the salary given is often more based on potential and ensuring the other team doesn’t match than it is on players’ current worth. In a league with a hard salary cap, particularly in COVID years where the cap isn’t climbing fast, that’s an issue.

Paul Holmgren, while GM in Philadelphia, signed Shea Weber to a huge offer-sheet back in 2012, trying to pry him away from the Nashville Predators. The Preds matched the offer but Holmgren paid the price. He was quoted saying that he had to eventually step down from his position and let Ron Hextall take over the GM role because teams wouldn’t talk to him due to this offer-sheet.

When Marc Bergevin signed Sebastian Aho to an offer-sheet, many people were surprised. Bergevin downplayed it saying that it was legal through the CBA… and he was right. But now that the Carolina Hurricanes applied their revenge, they did so by ensuring that they were getting Jesperi Kotkaniemi… and they got him.

And we see the effect it has had on the franchise. Bergevin had worked hard to fix a decade gaping hole at centre and he had lost one of his best young prospects. Now, the Habs are playing Jake Evans, Adam Brooks or wingers as third line centers as a result. At the time of writing these lines, the Canadiens are, for the first time in their history, 32nd overall in the standings, with an 0-5-0 record.

Bergevin’s future

It has been a tumultuous off-season for the Canadiens since their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. As positive as the previous off-season was, this past summer has been a disaster as much on the hockey front as it’s been politically speaking. It just wasn’t supposed to be like that. It seems like the Habs have been in damage control all summer long. As a matter of fact, they still are today.

In his latest media availability, Bergevin said that he would like to remain as the Canadiens’ GM “in a perfect world”… whatever that means. He’s not laughing anymore. He’s not making jokes. That’s NOT Marc Bergevin we’re seeing here. We’re seeing an emotional man, in tears, a guy who has aged beyond the nine years he’s been at the helm of the Habs. He doesn’t look like he’s having fun anymore.

Is it possible that with this latest offer-sheet fiasco, losing the 3rd overall pick for a first and third round compensation, was thee straw that broke the camel’s back for Geoff Molson? It’s hard to tell but Molson was behind Bergevin on the Aho offer-sheet as reports were that the intel came from him about Tom Dundon’s finances. Has he lost faith in his GM to deliver on his promisses? And has Bergevin shot himself in the foot by signing Aho to an offer-sheet? You live by the sword, you risk perishing by the sword.

Effects on the team

But how exactly is the contractual status of the General Manager supposed to have any effect on the performance of the team, some ask? How are players, who are paid to play hockey, could be distracted whether their GM is signed beyond this year or not? I mean, it’s not like he’s in the dressing room or on the ice with them, right?

Right, but… wrong. Marc Bergevin wears his heart on his sleeve. How many examples does one need to see that not only does he care about his players, but his players care about him. He’s part of the team. He makes himself part of the team, and takes responsibility for their struggles. That’s why he took to the media recently, unexpectedly and unannounced.

Think about it. For the players, a new GM brings new ideas, changes, the possibility to lose friends in the dressing room or even having to move yourself, your family. Lots of instability, of unknown… even if you’re paid to play hockey. Now is this THE reason why the Canadiens are struggling so far this season? No, no it’s not. At least, it’s not the main reason. But to downplay it as a non-factor is ignoring the reality of the life of hockey players. They like Bergevin, they don’t know what new management would bring.

Regardless of the outcome, I just pray that Mr. Molson doesn’t make the same mistake Ronald Corey made in 1995, and that Patrick Roy isn’t involved at all with any announcement attached to the Canadiens and the GM or coaching position. But something tells me that the Habs’ organisation will live to regret it if they let Bergevin walk into the sunset…

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