By JD Lagrange – It was supposed to be a good book and Montreal Canadiens fans were all looking forward to reading it. But when they released a copy to the media just prior to the launch on Monday, the type of attention that received was not what they were expecting.
Pierre Gervais was the Montreal Canadiens’ equipment manager up until last season and had been with the organization for more than 35 years. Helped by renowned reporter Mathias Brunet, Gervais recently released a book of his memories called “Pierre Gervais – Au cœur du vestiaire“.
In case you are living under a rock and haven’t heard, Gervais didn’t paint a pretty picture of Canadiens’ former captain Max Pacioretty. He also divulge information about the lack of respect from the players towards former coach Dominique Ducharme and nipped his former boss of ten years, Marc Bergevin, referring to him as a teenager. We’re just skimming the surface here as he went into a lot more details than that.
It is really unfortunate as the book itself is apparently 95% positive. But what was released prior to the launch was all about the “juicy and private” stuff behind the scene. Had that stuff been left out (as it should have been), the book launch would have had the success that it likely deserved. Brunet is an excellent writer, a very good journalist, and Gervais’ story was one to look forward to.
NHL not happy
People around the Canadiens and the NHL are not happy about that. This is NOT the type of publicity that the league and Geoff Molson’s team want or need. Just like what happens in the bedroom should not be posted to the public, what happens in the dressing room should be trusted to stay in the dressing room. And we’re not talking about situations like the Kyle Beach story here folks, like some tried to make a parallel to.
TVA Sports reporter Marc-André Perreault said having been bombarded with messages from individuals working in all sides of hockey.
“People simply can’t believe it”, Perreault said. “We’re beyond discomfort. I’ve received calls from coaches from all levels, texts from players… everyone thinks: ‘What was he thinking?’ “
And it didn’t sit well with the current players either. Some reporters had the guts – not to say lack of common sense – to put Nick Suzuki, Brendan Gallagher and Martin St-Louis on the spot with questions about those controversial issues from the book. The awkwardness was palpable as they tried to tip-toe around the questions, trying to remain professional.
At least eight players were supposed to go to the book launch on Monday, which was at the Bell Centre. Yes, the Montreal Canadiens provided the location to Gervais, before realizing that they would be stabbed in the back. Guess how many showed up? Zero. None. Nada. Don’t think for a second that it’s a coincidence.
“There was an uneasy feeling, it’s evident. Players were bombarded with questions”, said V-P of Communications Chantal Machabée. Players loved Pierre Gervais, but players loved Dominique Ducharme and Marc Bergevin. They had respect for these guys. So it put the players in a weird situation”, she added to explain no one showing up.
When it comes to deciding if Gervais and Brunet did the right thing by publishing such sensitive information, people are divided. Some applaud the former Canadiens’ employee for telling it like it is. But most people, particularly around the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens or hockey in general, feel like Gervais crossed the line by divulging reputation damaging information and nipping at players, management and coaches. You simply don’t do that to an employer that has treated you so well for so long, when you’re privileged to that information to start with. And why? To make a few extra bucks, to sell a book?
Gervais had a solid reputation not only with the Canadiens, but around the NHL. Personally, I was going to buy the book. Now, I’m not. Many people will, and that’s okay. To each their own. But with some of the details released in that book, he traded a solid reputation and legacy, his soul to the devil… for a buck. And he’ll have to live with that now.