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General manager Marc Bergevin felt helpless as his Montreal Canadiens started the NHL season with only one win in eight games.
He knew the players would have to work things out themselves because trades are hard to make early in the season, and trying to deal for help while the team is losing is asking for trouble.
“You go through tough stretches and people want to pick your pocket,” Bergevin said Wednesday. “You know some guys are better than they are playing and what you’re talking about getting in return is not going to help you, so making a move just to make a move isn’t going to make any difference.
“I’m not going to make a panic move.”
Happily for Bergevin, the Canadiens (2-6-1) ended their seven-game losing streak and saw their offence finally break out with a 5-1 win at home over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. At least for one night, goalie Carey Price was his old self again, while snake-bitten forwards Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk found the net.
?They will try to make it two in a row when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
The local media had requested that Bergevin be made available earlier this week, when all was doom and gloom around the team. After the win, the GM, who usually meets with the media only a few times per season, agreed to talk.
“I told the guys that the answer’s in that room,” said Bergevin, who addressed the team at the end of a three-game west coast trip that ended with a 6-2 loss Friday night in Anaheim. “We watch the tapes and we see where the breakdowns are.
“Sometimes they’re the smallest breakdowns and it’s in our net. And then it affects your confidence. It may not be what people want to hear but it’s reality. You could play with a bad foot or a bad hand, but no confidence? It’s obvious.”
The Canadiens fell behind 3-0 to the Ducks, but roared back with a pair of goals on 30 second-period shots, only to concede three quick goals in the third.
On social media, fans were clamouring for a trade, for Pacioretty to give up the captaincy and other drastic moves.
Pacioretty said that despite the defeat the team felt ready to break out, which they did against the Panthers.
“I felt a huge emotional carry-over from the Anaheim game and especially from the second period,” the team captain said. “Guys really put in the work in two practices leading up to the game.
“I could feel a different energy. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but we’ve dug ourselves a hole here that we have to get out of.”
Pacioretty, a four-time 30-goal man, is a streaky scorer.
There was concern about Galchenyuk, however. The 2012 third overall draft pick, who had 30 goals two seasons ago, was in a funk since the start of the season and had been dropped to the fourth line.
The 23-year-old had been the subject of trade rumours during the summer, but then inked a three-year contract extension averaging $ 4.9 million US per season on July 5.
“I hope [the goal against Florida] is the beginning,” said Bergevin. “You see the talent, what he’s capable of doing.
“Sometimes I see a young player who is looking for answers somewhere else instead of taking it upon himself. When you talk to the kid about it he understands, so he’s aware of it. He needs to find the little things that make him score. Not thinking about scoring but about the process. Sometimes you think you’re working but you may not be working as hard as you can.”
“We’re not giving up on Galchenyuk. He’s a young player who we’re going to continue to work with.” – Bergevin
A more troubling report came Monday night when Mario Tremblay, a former Canadiens player and coach, said on a radio broadcast that Galchenyuk had off-ice troubles and that he had even been in the league’s substance abuse rehab program.
Galchenyuk had no comment when approached by reporters after the Florida game. Bergevin did not confirm or deny it, saying the team wouldn’t know even if it was true.
“Every year, even since my days as a player, you get a card at the beginning of the year with a number where if you need help, you call,” said Bergevin. “It’s strictly confidential.
“Nobody knows and that’s why the program is called confidential and that’s why we don’t comment on any of that stuff. They’re trying to help the player if the player needs help. And again, it could be one player, it could be 10 players. We wouldn’t know.”
Bergevin had good news for rookie defenceman Victor Mete. The 19-year-old from the London Knights is to play his 10th NHL game, which will activate the first year of his entry-level contract. The speedy defender has been impressive on the top pair with veteran Shea Weber.
“As long as he performs like that, he’ll stay in Montreal,” said Bergevin.