Canadiens: Bad Contracts Were Bergevin’s Parting Gift for Kent Hughes

Apr 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 8, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Montreal Canadiens forward Joel Armia. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

In November of 2021, Marc Bergevin was fired as General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens, a position he held for nearly a decade. Upon his departure, Bergevin left the Canadiens with a mixed bag of young talent and aging veterans, a group that was nowhere close to good enough to win a cup. Flash forward almost two years later, and some of Bergevin’s moves are still plaguing the Canadiens.

Bergevin made a ton of moves while at the helm in Montreal, some good and some bad. He brought in young talent via trades like Nick Suzuki and drafted young stars like Cole Caufield and Kaiden Guhle. But he also traded for Christian Dvorak and signed Joel Armia and Mike Hoffman to lengthy, expensive contracts that they have failed to live up to. And it’s these moves that are most remembered, in large part because they happened in the same off-season.

The 2021 Off-season, Bergevin’s last as GM, caused more harm than good, with numerous moves that have handcuffed the Habs in 2023. The Habs have very little cap space to work with, thanks to these contracts and the poor performances that have only further devalued the players attached to them. Unfortunately, you can add Brendan Gallagher and the massive extension he signed in the 2020 off-season to this list, although that didn’t look as poor then.

As for the 2021 off-season, these moves didn’t look great at the time and certainly don’t look great now. All they’ve done is ensure these vets are taking up roster spots that could be used on young talent instead and hurting the Canadiens cap structure. Now current GM Kent Hughes has the impossible task of building a competitive team with less cap flexibility and players undeserving of a roster spot, with nowhere else to put them.

Now, in Bergevin’s defense, the Canadiens were just coming off a run to the Stanley Cup Finals but were going to lose two of their best players, Shea Weber and Carey Price. There was almost certainly pressure to build off the momentum of the 20-21 season, even without Price and Weber. And that’s what these moves felt like, panic moves, as opposed to being accepting towards a rebuild, which was what ultimately happened anyways, just now with more hurdles.

Still, it can’t be denied that the 2021 off-season did far more harm than good, and the Canadiens are still paying the price for it. All the more proof as to why it’s better to stay away from giving out big contracts in free agency. Use the Canadiens as an example, you can’t win the Stanley Cup in the off-season, but you can lose it. A few months later, Bergevin was fired, but his parting gift to Kent Hughes was an off-season Canadiens will not forget any time soon, even though they’re trying their hardest to.

A Winning Habit
A Winning Habit /

Want your voice heard? Join the A Winning Habit team!

Write for us!