When Marc Bergevin was named general manager of the Montreal Canadiens on May 2, 2012, it did not take long before fans were suggesting everything he touches turns to gold.
He quickly turned the Canadiens franchise around, from a team that finished 15th in the Eastern Conference, to a team that won their division in 2012-13, edging out their rival Boston Bruins in the process.
However, his first offseason with the organization saw Bergevin bring in George Parros and Douglas Murray in an effort to get bigger. Both were healthy scratches last night in the Habs opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but Bergevin looked like a genius at the end of the night.
Okay, he looked like an over excited puppy, but the moves he made during the season looked great.
Bergevin’s deadline acquisition of Thomas Vanek was hailed as a steal the day it happened, and was cemented as a great trade when Vanek broke free of Lightning defender Eric Brewer in the third period, and tipped in a beautiful David Desharnais pass to give the Habs a temporary third period lead.
While Bergevin focused on bringing in size in the offseason, he also offered diminutive forward Daniel Briere a two year deal at 4 million per season. Bergevin claimed there are players that get you to the postseason and players that get you through the playoffs. He clearly believed Briere would play his best hockey once the regular season had ended.
Briere struggled throughout the season, scoring just 25 points in 69 games, the lowest output of his NHL career. Briere was a healthy scratch at times, and never seemed to have a role with the Canadiens.
Bergevin also raised a few eyebrows when he dealt defenseman Raphael Diaz to the Vancouver Canucks for depth winger Dale Weise. The Canadiens were immediately in the market for another defender, and would eventually pick up Mike Weaver, and already employed plenty of bottom six forwards.
Last night however, it was Briere and Weise who would combine for the game winning goal in overtime to give the Canadiens a 1-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Briere has averaged a point per game in the first 107 NHL playoff games of his career, and picked up his one point last night, but waited until the wning moments of the first overtime period to do so.
Briere gathered a loose puck behind the Lightning goal, and pulled it away from traffic to his backhand and found a wide open Weise in front of Anders Lindback. Weise made no mistake one timing the puck past the Lightning goaltender.
Bergevin made himself look like a fool when the puck hit the back of the net, but it is difficult for a GM to conceal their glee when their most recent acquisitions make them look so smart.