Montreal Canadiens: Public Opinion Changed in Latest Marc Bergevin Trade in Record Time

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Josh Anderson Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 13: Josh Anderson Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been at the helm of the Habs for close to nine years now. He has had his fair share of ups and downs during his lengthy tenure, and public opinion of his has changed dramatically on a few occasions.

When he first arrived, most of his moves were minor and the bigger trades were mostly cost cutting moves. He became known as a savvy capologist when he was able to move out the contracts of Erik Cole, Travis Moen and Rene Bourque and bring back players that had much less term.

He did make a big trade to land Thomas Vanek for Sebastian Collberg and a second round pick at the 2014 trade deadline, but he wasn’t exactly known for taking big risks on trades.

That all changed in June, 2016 when Bergevin traded fan favourite and Norris Trophy winning defneceman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. This started a run of big, risky trades that were not well received by the fan base initially, but eventually turned out to be grand slams by the Canadiens GM.

The season after the Weber trade, the Habs made the postseason, winning their division but they lost to the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Weber was great, scoring 17 goals and 42 points in 78 games while playing huge minutes in all situations. He did get hurt the next season and played only 26 games.

Meanwhile, Subban helped the Predators to a Stanley Cup Final while playing a big role in his first season after leaving Montreal. He followed that up with 16 goals and 59 points in his second season while Weber was injured for most of the year.

This had a lot of fans of the Canadiens yearning for Subban while questioning Weber’s durability and if he could keep up with the speed of the NHL game.

Fast forward to today and Weber looks as good as he did the day he arrived in Montreal. He does have five more years on his contract after this one and is 35 years old, but he only makes a total of $6 million over the final four years of the deal. That means after the 2021-22 season, Weber is playing with a high cap hit, while earning about $1.5 million per season.

Eugene Melnyk will probably trade Brady Tkachuk for Shea Weber at that point, just to save money.

Subban played for the New Jersey Devils last season (I only say that because you probably forgot he was traded there.) He had 18 points in 68 games as the Devils struggled mightily all season and sold off several veterans at the trade deadline.

You couldn’t find many Habs fans who liked the Weber trade the day it happened. But it is almost impossible to find someone who thinks it didn’t work out tremendously for the Canadiens now.

Of course, every Habs fan now says they loved the trade at the time… but, I digress.

The same thing happened two years later when Alex Galchenyuk was traded. The third overall pick in 2012 was heralded as the big, two-way, first line centre of the future but never developed into that role. He had some flashes of brilliance, but couldn’t consistently produce offence, and looked lost in the defensive zone at times.

Still, he did produce a 30 goal season in his fourth full season, and that was commonly referenced when he was dealt after two less productive seasons. Most of the refrain after Galchenyuk was traded was that Bergevin moved out a “30 goal scorer” for a “guy who only scores empty net goals.”

That empty net goal scoring specialist was, of course, Max Domi. He had just nine goals, with four into empty nets, in his final season with the Arizona Coyotes. The trade was further scathed when it was realized the Canadiens were planning on using Domi at centre after he played most of his career on left wing.

Now, both players have been traded again, but Domi scored 116 points in two seasons with the Habs, while Galchenyuk has 65 points since the deal was made and has been a healthy scratch for the Ottawa Senators so far this season.

While it took a couple years for people to warm up to the idea of the Subban trade working out, it only took a couple months for public opinion to shift on the Galchenyuk trade.

Then, before we knew it, Domi was gone too. After establishing value in two years with the Habs, Domi was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with a third round pick, for Josh Anderson. Anderson played just 27 games last season and scored just one goal as he battled injuries even when he was in the lineup.

At the time of the deal, many fans of the Canadiens questioned the need to add a third round pick, and not get a pick in the trade. Domi fell down the lineup throughout the season and wasn’t great in the postseason, but surely he had more value than a guy who scored ONE goal last season?

Well, after Weber finally won people over and Domi quickly swayed opinion as well, Anderson was able to change public opinion of his trade acquisition in record time.

After just one game, Anderson looked fast, physical, and smart. He was good with the puck in making plays and scored twice on the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his first game with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Domi was benched for the final five minutes of a close game and played the 10th most minutes of the team’s 12 forwards.

In literally one hockey game, Anderson was able to completely change the minds of the entire fanbase who questioned the trade.

Again, everyone is going to say they loved the trade the moment it was made! But in reality, there were a lot of David Clarkson comparisons made when Anderson signed a seven-year contract extension before playing a game with the Habs.

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Now, we Habs fans hope he can stick around longer than that.