The way Marc Bergevin sold it, the firing of Michel Therrien had everything to do with the way the Canadiens were playing and nothing to do with, well, anything else.
It didn’t happen because Claude Julien suddenly became available.
It didn’t happen because the owner stepped in.
It didn’t happen because Carey Price was never the same after that game in December when Price glared at the bench after being pulled.
And it had nothing to do with that reported meeting in Arizona that Bergevin held with his team leaders, and without Therrien.
It was simply this — after starting the season 25-9-6, the Canadiens are 6-10-2 in their last 18 games. On Sunday, in Therrien’s last game behind the bench, they got blasted, 4-0, in Boston.
“We were not the same team as we were earlier on,” Bergevin said at a press conference today. “There was something missing. The team’s performance showed that there was something not right, and the change had to be made.”
The general manager did want to clear one thing up, about that meeting in Arizona that caused such a buzz back home in Montreal.
“I want to be clear on this, because that was blown out of proportion,” he said. “Michel and I had a meeting in the morning, and we were talking like we talk every day, and I mentioned that I was going to meet some players and (I invited him) to join me. And Michel said, ‘You know what, Marc? Today’s a day off for the team, for the coaches. Maybe you just go alone.’
“So Michel was aware of the situation, and it was not about Michel Therrien, my conversation (with the players). I’m not going to go into detail what we talked about, but it was not about Michel.”
Surely, though, last week’s firing of Julien by the Boston Bruins was partly related to the timing of Therrien’s dismissal.
“I just felt we weren’t playing the way we’re capable of,” said Bergevin. “So, everything happened for a reason. Maybe the timing was — you know, Claude let go by Boston last week — but I didn’t make my decision based on how Boston operates, that’s just not how I did it, no.”
Read more: No real surprise that Therrien was fired
Looking ahead to the March 1 trade deadline, Bergevin left the door open for some minor tinkering. However, he insisted that a young prospect like Mikhail Sergachev would not be sacrificed for a short-term fix.
“It’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen,” Bergevin said. “As you see, there’s barely any trades in the NHL, and there’s a reason why. You make your team in July, you hope you stay healthy, and you try to address some needs at the deadline. But again, it’s what the price is going to be. And if it’s asking for our young prospect, it will not happen.”
Did you hear that Joe Sakic in Colorado?
The Canadiens’ first game under Julien is Saturday against Winnipeg.
“In my opinion, with his track record, he’s a superstar,” Bergevin said of his new bench boss. “He’s a great coach. I think his record speaks for itself.”