Habs owner: GM Bergevin ‘lives hockey, and our success starts with him’

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According to Geoff Molson, there’s one person primarily responsible for Montreal’s turnaround season in 2013:

GM Marc Bergevin.

Bergevin, who was named one of the three finalists for the NHL’s general manager of the year award, was showered with praise as Molson addressed the media on Thursday.

“We had good coaching, but it all starts at the top and I’m not talking about me,” Molson told reporters, as per the Montreal Gazette. “I’m talking about (general manager Marc Bergevin).

“He lives hockey and our success starts with him.”

Hired last May, Bergevin completely overhauled Montreal’s front office and coaching staff (see here and here and here and here), culminating with the hire of head coach Michel Therrien.

In free agency, the rookie GM addressed the team’s lack of toughness by signing Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong, then selected Alex Galchenyuk third overall at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

He also stood firm during the P.K. Subban negotiations, and was able to secure the Norris-nominated defenseman’s services for $2.88 million per season.

With those moves complete, Bergevin sat back and watched Montreal go from 15th in the Eastern Conference last year to Northeast Division champions this year — the club’s first divisional banner since 2008.

Pretty good first year on the job.

Overall, Molson was happy with just about everything this season save the finish, when injuries besieged the Habs and they were bounced in five games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“We didn’t have any bad stretches until the end when we ran into injury problems,” Molson said. “But we went a long way toward building for the future.

“We’re headed in the right direction.”