What the Puck: Caufield, a convenient scapegoat for Canadiens mistakes

Cole Caufield is not the problem. When a company collapses, like Canadians, it is Geoff Molson and Marc Bergevin.

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Blame the boy.

It’s a good Montreal Canadiens tradition. The whole team from top to bottom is downright gruesome, but apparently it’s all Cole Caufield’s fault.

On Monday morning, the Canadiens announced that Caulfield will be sent to Laval, to be replaced by Michael Pezzetta on the Big Team. Unreal. This team used to have a banner over the locker room that said, “No excuses.” Now they should put a new one that says: “No responsibility.”

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This hot mess is the fault of general manager Marc Bergevin and ultimately his boss Geoff Molson. But let’s put all the blame on a 20-year-old with an incredible scoring touch. It may do Caufield some good to play for the Rocket for a while, but if that’s the case, the coaches and managers should have realized that before the season started. That is why they pay them a lot of money.

Instead, he was thrown into the eye of the hurricane, to be dropped amid a spit show that has Caufield skating aimlessly across the ice not knowing what to do. His confidence had already taken a big hit before the demotion to the AHL and now they tell him he’s just not good enough to play in the NHL. Is there someone in charge here?

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But like I said, it’s a good Montreal tradition, this deliberate destruction of the confidence of young players. It’s a tradition that has gained more traction in the Bergevin era. It started with Bergevin’s first pick, Alex Galchenyuk, third overall in 2012. He was supposed to be the big, strong center the team had dreamed of for decades. A couple of years later, Bergevin was saying publicly that Chucky just wasn’t good enough to play center.

The team also failed to develop another third overall pick, Jesperi Kotkaniemi. They got him into the league too quickly, mostly for PR reasons, and once KK left, Bergevin even admitted it was probably a mistake. Oh well, another boy’s career was screwed up. Not a problem, right?

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Caufield is not the problem. When a company is falling apart, like Canadians, don’t target the infantrymen and especially the rookies. Go to the top. This is the work of Molson and Bergevin. The reality is that the team has not been very good since that 2014 Cup.

Until the pandemic hit, the team had won only one playoff series since 2014. Thanks to the pandemic, the Habs were lucky. He somehow sneaked into the 2020 bubble playoff tournament even though they finished 24th in the rankings. Last season, they sneaked in again because it was a shorter season and they were in a weak North Division. Another two weeks and the Calgary Flames would have gotten past them.

They won three series in the spring, but mostly they won the series because Carey Price played as a cross between Dryden, Roy and Plante.

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The team was not so good and now it is worse. That is in Bergevin. He let go of Phillip Danault. Last fall, the Canadiens reportedly offered him a six-year, $ 30 million deal, which he declined. He then signed a six-year, $ 33 million deal with the Los Angeles Kings over the summer. There isn’t much of a difference between the deals, and Danault said Bergevin never bothered to make him a contract offer at the end of the season. Strange.

Bergevin then lost Kotkaniemi to a hostile offer from the Carolina Hurricanes. Why didn’t the general manager sign the young center in early summer? After all, this was the player he said the team would be built on, along with Nick Suzuki.

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That’s two of the four lost centers. The result is that the team has built around Suzuki as the number one center and is clearly not ready for that role. But there is also a great Habs tradition of putting players in a job that is too high a level for them. Remember that another “No. 1 ”center David Desharnais?

Ultimately, this is Molson’s doing. Bergevin is a pathetic genius. He has one year left on his contract and negotiations with Molson are stalled. With a 2-8 start, Montreal is virtually guaranteed not to make the playoffs this year.

So Bergevin has to go into long-term planning mode. The problem is that it seems likely that he will not return as general manager. Or at least there is a big question mark about his future. How can you make those long-term decisions correctly?

Most of us believe that it is time for a complete rebuild. But are you really going to entrust that job to a guy who can’t make a long-term commitment to the team?

I’ll say it again: Molson has to act, now. He has to re-sign Bergevin or fire him. A few weeks ago, the last option seemed far-fetched. Not so now.

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Reference-montrealgazette.com

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