The NHL Awards will be handed out during the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time due to the lockout pushing the season into late June. The Montreal Canadiens will carry a strong presence to the Awards gala, as they have three members in the running for prestigious hardware.
The ceremony gets underway this evening when the Masterton, Selke, King Clancy, Lady Byng and Jack Adams Awards will be presented along with the Mark Messier Leadership Award and the NHL General Manager of the Year Award.
Tomorrow night, before game 2 of the final is played, the winners of the Hart, Calder, Norris, Vezina and Ted Lindsay Award will be honored. Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher, P.K. Subban and General Manager Marc Bergevin will be in attendance as they are among the award finalists.
Bergevin is up for the General Manager of the Year award for his excellent work in righting the ship that is the Montreal Canadiens organization. Marc wasted no time in changing the face of the franchise by making significant changes not just on the ice, but behind the bench and in upper management as well.
Bergevin surrounded himself with experienced hockey minds by bringing in Rick Dudley, Scott Mellanby, Patrice Brisebois and Martin Lapointe in various management roles. He brought Michel Therrien back to the organization as Head Coach and appointed Gerard Gallant, Clement Jodoin and J.J. Daigneault to assist Therrien.
As for upgrading the on ice product, Bergevin would bring in much needed grit and toughness that would make the Canadiens much more difficult to play against. Brandon Prust, Colby Armstrong and Francis Bouillon would be signed and Jeff Halpern was plucked off waivers to add depth and toughness to the Canadiens lineup.
Bergevin’s only significant trade to date would see him send Erik Cole and his two more seasons of 4.5 million dollars to the Dallas Stars for Michael Ryder and a third round pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Ryder would catch fire immediately upon arriving in Montreal for his second tour of duty in the city, while Cole would continue to struggle in Texas.
The biggest decision that Bergevin has made as the Canadiens General Manager was also his boldest and perhaps his best. Taking over a team that finished near the cellar of the standings, the Canadiens held the third overall pick in the 2012 NHL entry draft.
With that pick, Bergevin decided to select Alex Galchenyuk, who had played only two regular season games in his draft year and failed to register a point. Galchenyuk was held out of the lineup all year with a knee injury, but it was not enough to stop the Canadiens brass from using the third overall selection on him. Galchenyuk would reward their faith by bouncing back not just at the Ontario Hockey League level, where he dominated during the lockout, but he also excelled at the World Junior Championships, as well as playing very well in the NHL once the lockout was settled.
All of these moves by Marc Bergevin resulted in the Montreal Canadiens climbing from 28th to 4th in the NHL standings in just one season. Bergevin is going up against Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray and Ray Shero of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who also had extremely successful campaigns.
Everything Bergevin has touched in the last year has turned to gold, tonight we will find out if it was enough to result in the General Manager of the Year Award.
Tomorrow we will preview the Calder Trophy and Norris Trophy, as Gallagher and Subban will learn if they will have their names engraved on one of the NHL’s major awards Saturday night.