The Call of the Wilde for the night of Friday, November 26, is not worried about the Wilde Horses or Wilde Goats in another lifeless game for the Canadiens this season.
Instead, it is an examination of the future of the general manager and the head coach.
It’s a popular sentiment these days among fans and some outlets to also fire general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Dominique Ducharme. Frustration is high, so it is a natural desire. This season, the Canadiens have the worst record after 21 games they have had in their 112-year history.
It’s no wonder people want some heads to roll. Some are suggesting that the president, Geoff Molson, has been absent completely without the courage to deal with this.
However, here’s the thing. Timing is everything, and there is a logical calendar for these events.
Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens take over in second period for much-needed win over Predators
Let’s start with the head coach, where Ducharme’s firing this year doesn’t make sense. The Canadiens are already eliminated from the playoffs this season. The Habs would have to have a 43-17 last 60 game record to reach 98 points. The best team in the league is probably not going 43-17. Surely, the Canadiens are not. They are not making the playoffs.
Therefore, it is unwise to start a new head coach this season who is already lost. He would start his term with a three-quarter season that didn’t even matter. The organization would also pay another coach for absolutely nothing in terms of big games. The club would also have fewer coaches in the pool of prospects to choose from, considering coaches are in the middle of their season right now doing their jobs.
It makes sense for Ducharme to take this for the rest of the season. There is no motivation for a new coach at this time. Let Ducharme finish this season, and then it is very likely that the evaluations will be done then. At a current rate of 48 points in his first full season, surely the president would look for someone else to be behind the bench.
Even if this is not Ducharme’s fault, with 48 points, he has not earned the benefit of the doubt.
That brings us to the time of the other senior staff change. While the head coach has to stay until the end of the season because there are no big games left this year, the general manager’s job continues in a season like this, and the work starts for next year right now.
The plan should be for rebuilding to begin immediately. That means unrestricted free agents like Ben Chiarot should be on the market by now. The type of list decision the DJ makes should be more for the future than now.
Canada cracks down on the Omicron COVID-19 variant. Experts say it’s likely ‘already here’
Environment Canada Issues First ‘Red Level Alert’ Ahead of Back-to-Back Storms in British Columbia
For example, young players who need ice time should get it. Veterans who are not part of next season should be on new teams by now, or soon will be. Alexander Romanov should play a lot. Cedric Paquette shouldn’t be playing at all. The rest of this season is about preparing for the next one.
Call of the Wilde: Montreal Canadiens crumbles with 6-0 shutout by Pittsburgh Penguins
All of this work begins right now, so if Molson wants to relieve Bergevin of his position, he should do so as soon as now. Bergevin cannot be held responsible for the trading deadline. It cannot be responsible for the recruitment. You cannot be responsible for the list at this time. If it’s over, then logic dictates that it’s over now.
Makes one wonder if Bergevin’s time is not up because there is extremely important work for GM this year. He has to get rid of any player who is not part of a future two or three years from now. He has to get a player for Jordan Harris, if he has decided not to participate in the Montreal organization.
There is a staggering amount of work to be done for the general manager, and if he’s not next year’s general manager, then he shouldn’t be now.
Perhaps, even though Bergevin’s contract ends this season, Molson still has faith in him.
Personally, the inability to value disk-moving defenders for so many years is my bridge too far. David Savard and Karl Alzner as long-term signings showed their preference for stay-at-home defenders. He never got a replacement for his best discus moving defender, Andrei Markov. Head scout Trevor Timmins got him a good puck-moving defender, the youngest OHL defender of the year winner Mikhael Sergachev, so Bergevin was able to change him quickly.
Bergevin has never been in the drawing for a blue line disc engine. You just don’t value them. Assess who he was as a defender. Bergevin had a long and successful career taking care of his own end and offering absolutely nothing on the other end of the ice, the way he likes them.
Canadiens’ Great Guy Lafleur Tackles Lung Cancer Again and Strives to Raise Awareness
This will never change. You will continue to make this mistake. Five years for Alzner; four years for Savard. As much as Bergevin makes good trades and does well in contract negotiations, he can’t build a team because he doesn’t value this absolutely vital defender.
If Molson disagrees with me, so be it. That is my right to have my opinion, and he has the right to have his opinion. He is the man who makes the call. I’m just a sports writer making my own decision.
My call is to relieve Bergevin of his duties now. It has had a decade. That’s enough. Let someone else try this now.
If he can’t do it during the club’s worst start after 21 games in 112 years, when can he?
Brian Wilde, a Montreal-based sports writer, brings you Call of the Wilde on globalnews.ca after every Canadiens game.
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.