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Canadiens vs. Red Wings recap: Mathieu Perreault ends the losing streak – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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It’s not often that the sixth game of the season is considered a must-win, but for the Montreal Canadiens who are mired in the worst franchise start in almost three decades, that is exactly the situation they were in. Five straight losses, with just four goals total to their name, had left them as the only NHL team without a point in the early season.

Dominique Ducharme threw the line blender on for last night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings, with Mathieu Perreault taking the third-line centre role between Tyler Toffoli and Cole Caufield. Jake Evans played between Finns Joel Armia and Artturi Lehkonen on the fourth line, while Mike Hoffman moved up to the top trio.

On defence, Sami Niku made his debut next to Brett Kulak after missing almost all of the pre-season with a concussion. Ben Chiarot took a spot next to Jeff Petry, while Alexander Romanov and David Savard formed a new-look third pair.

It was a bright start for the Canadiens who managed a ton of zone time and puck control while the Red Wings tried their best to keep the Habs to the outside. However, as has been the case all season, a penalty call shifted control of the game back into the opponent’s hands early on. Detroit did not need much time at all on its power play. Just seven seconds into Ben Chiarot’s tripping minor, Dylan Larkin snapped a shot off the post and in to make it a 1-0 game.

The Canadiens followed that up with a shift on which they failed to clear their lines on multiple occasions, giving the Wings another huge chance to add to their lead, but some strong stops from Jake Allen kept the deficit at just one.

Then Jonathan Drouin’s quick feet drew a tripping call, giving the Habs a chance to tie the game up on the power play. The power play unsurprisingly looked disjointed and failed to record a shot on goal. However, Chiarot was able to atone for his earlier penalty, thanks in part to a brilliant seam pass from Drouin. The Habs winger had a pair of options, to either dump the puck around or to feed a pass back toward the point. Drouin opted for the latter, hitting Chiarot in stride and the big defender wired his shot past Thomas Greiss to tie the game at one goal apiece.

After a disastrous first power play attempt, the Canadiens’ second one went much better. Hoffman missed the net with his first try, but was able to corral the rebound along the boards. He then circled outside the faceoff circle and uncorked a laser beam that Greiss never saw to put Montreal in the lead with their first two-goal game of the season.

They also earned a third straight power play afterward, but some fancy stickhandling from both Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki failed to find another goal on the advantage. Nevertheless, Montreal entered the first intermission with a one-goal lead.

The Habs came out firing on all cylinders to start the second period, with Hoffman leading a three-on-one rush and testing Greiss with another heavy wrist shot. It hinted at the offence that was about to come.

The goals started flying fast and furious, thanks to a bit of luck and Marc Staal’s skate. The second line rocketed into the zone after Kulak bumped the puck ahead to Drouin. He fed it back to Christian Dvorak, who dropped it off for Niku. The puck was returned to Dvorak, who tried one more pass, but it deflected off Staal’s heel and past Greiss.

The relentless neutral-zone pressure then resulted in a turnover by Carter Rowney, which Perreault picked up. The newly minted third-line centre had all kinds of space in the Detroit zone, and opted to call his own number as he snapped his first of the year past Greiss to make it a three-goal lead.

It wasn’t long before Perreault found the back of the net again, this time thanks to more pressure from the forwards. Caufield corralled a loose puck, walked into the slot, and fired a shot off Greiss’s glove. The rebound dropped right at Tyler Toffoli’s feet, and he slid a blind pass across the crease to Perreault, who easily chipped it home to push the Montreal lead to four.

The Habs did have to end the period killing another penalty, with Allen having to come up big to close out the second period and keep that four-goal lead intact.

Following the remaining Detroit power play time to open the third, the game became rather sloppy as both teams seemed content to just turn the puck over back and forth and run out the clock. However, after Givani Smith shoved Tyler Toffoli back into the Habs bench, Montreal went back to the power play.

With the obvious intention of getting him a hat trick, most of the man advantage was spent filtering pucks in to Perreault. Despite some solid looks from range, the Canadiens did not add to their lead.

The Wings decided an aggressive goalie pull was their best chance to get into the game with well over six minutes remaining. Chiarot collected a loose puck, launching it ahead but missing the net. Perreault was there to pick it up and deposit it into the empty net to complete his natural hat trick.

Jake Allen made a few big saves as the Red Wings pushed to try to find any kind of silver lining in the loss, but the Montreal goalie stood tall to finally earn the Habs their first win of the season.

Final Score: Montreal 6, Detroit 1

Next up for the team, is its annual trip to the American West Coast, starting with a trip to Seattle for the first ever meeting with the Kraken at 10 PM ET on Tuesday night.

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Marc Bergevin's best, worst, wildest moves as Canadiens GM – Sportsnet.ca

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The Montreal Canadiens are simply not the same team today as the one fans watched make an improbable post-season run less than half a year ago and over the weekend the team fired general manager Marc Bergevin after more than nine years with the organization.

“Despite the fact that this journey is coming to an end, I am proud of the legacy I’m leaving within the organization,” Bergevin, 56, wrote in a statement posted to the team’s website. “The current team is much better than the results show, and I am convinced that my successors will be able to rise to the challenge.”

Short-term, that legacy comment might be tough to hear if you cheer for the Canadiens considering five months ago your team was competing in the Stanley Cup Final, whereas just past the quarter-mark of 2021-22 the team ranks 30th in points percentage and are without their captain and franchise goalie.

Long-term, though, the outlook is brighter with Nick Suzuki, Christian Dvorak, Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Joel Armia, Jeff Petry and David Savard locked up through at least 2025, plus the team’s 2022 draft pick stockpile is in above-average shape with four additional picks currently available as assets.

“The last years have been high in both emotions and learnings,” Bergevin added in his statement. “You have witnessed my journey leading the organization. You won’t be surprised to hear me say it has not been a long, quiet river, and at times, it felt like we were living in a TV show.”

And, like many TV shows, Bergevin’s moves ranged from good to bad to downright wild. So with that in mind and Bergevin’s tenure as Canadiens GM officially over, let’s look back at some of his best, worst and wildest moves whilst he sat in the team’s front office for nearly a full decade.

BEST

It’s pretty much a slam dunk answer that the best overall move Bergevin made for Montreal was acquiring Jeff Petry from Edmonton for second- and fourth-round picks in 2015 and eventually locking him up for an additional 10 cap-friendly contract years. Petry’s 170 points from 2017-18 through to the start of this season ranks 12th among all blueliners in the league.

Another great move from Bergevin was a deal he executed with his former team in 2016. No, the Canadiens weren’t able to re-sign Phillip Danault this past off-season, but that doesn’t negate what a great trade it ended up being for Montreal when Bergevin packaged Tomas Fleischmann and Dale Weise and sent them to Chicago for Danault and a second-round draft pick that became Alexander Romanov.

In 2018, with one year left before Max Pacioretty’s contract was set to expire, Bergevin looked to the future and received Suzuki and Tomas Tatar in exchange for the star winger. Pacioretty has continued scoring in Vegas, but Tatar provided solid depth during his three-year stint in Montreal and Suzuki is a key part of the franchise’s future.

Another recent move that has seen positive early returns was signing Tyler Toffoli to a four-year, $17 million contract two summers ago. The 29-year-old led the team in goals and points last season and is tied for the team lead in points through 23 games this season.

WORST

If you’ve happened to peruse social media over the years whenever Bergevin made a notable move then you likely read (and watched and listened to) copious hot takes lambasting Bergevin for his various decisions.

Obviously, not all criticism was warranted but one move that was universally questioned right from the beginning was when he inked Karl Alzner to a five-year contract worth more than $23 million on the open market in 2017. Alzner was a depreciating asset by NHL standards at the time and the experiment had somewhat predictable results. Alzner only played one full season in Montreal and was placed on unconditional waivers in 2020.

The 2012 NHL Draft wasn’t incredibly rich with NHL all-stars, and Alex Galchenyuk has played close to 600 NHL games, however his selection at No. 3 overall didn’t provide much relative value to Montreal. It was Bergevin’s first draft as GM. Galchenyuk reached the 20-goal plateau twice in his first four seasons, but never developed into the elite top-line offensive threat Montreal had envisioned he’d become after his junior career with the Sarnia Sting.

Galchenyuk was traded to the Coyotes for Max Domi straight up in 2018. In 2020, Domi and a third-round pick were flipped to Columbus in exchange for Josh Anderson. Essentially, in relatively quick succession, Bergevin turned 2012’s No. 3 pick into the player selected 95th overall in the same draft.

Speaking of third-overall selections, Bergevin took Jesperi Kotkaniemi ahead of Brady Tkachuk, Quinn Hughes and others in 2018. Considering how that saga eventually ended (more on that below) it could be considered another L.

Although there’s certainly high hopes for Cole Caufield, Bergevin’s consensus best first-round selection with the Canadiens was when he chose defenceman Mikhail Sergachev with the ninth-overall pick in 2016. Sergachev only played four regular-season games with Montreal before he was traded to Tampa Bay for Jonathan Drouin. Sergachev has averaged more than 30 points and 18:30 minutes of ice-time per season with the Lightning and helped them win two Stanley Cups. Meanwhile, Drouin has a paltry 12 total goals since the 2018-19 campaign.

The selection of Logan Mailloux with the team’s 2021 first-round pick at the NHL Draft this past July was also a head-scratcher – for an entirely different set of reasons – and worth mentioning here.

Mailloux was criminally convicted and fined by Swedish authorities in December of 2020 for distributing without consent a photo of a woman performing a sexual act. The teenaged defenceman, a player with the OHL’s London Knights, released a statement prior to the 2021 NHL Draft asking teams to not select him. Suffice it to say Bergevin taking a prospect under these circumstances – in the first round no less – was awful optics and Bergevin was publicly panned for it.

WILDEST

When you include draft pick swaps, Bergevin made around 100 trades during his time in Montreal and none were bigger or more out-of-the-blue than when he traded P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber – one of three blockbuster moves on June 29, 2016 that shook up the NHL landscape in an exhilarating 23-minute sequence.

The kneejerk reaction from a large chunk of hockey media and fans alike was to quickly dub the Canadiens losers in the deal. Subban, after all, was the 2013 Norris winner and a finalist again in 2015 before he set a career high in goals and became a three-time Norris finalist in his second year with the Preds. Subban’s stock dropped in the years following as Weber settled in as a leader in Montreal’s locker room, was named captain in 2018 and helped lead a run the Cup final before injuries forced him away from the game.

That was quite the week for Bergevin in the summer of 2016 since five days earlier he traded Lars Eller to Washington for a pair of second-rounders and spent a pair of second-round picks to acquire Andrew Shaw from Chicago. The picks Montreal received from the Capitals didn’t turn into any viable NHL-calibre asset and one of the picks the Blackhawks got turned into Alex Debrincat.

Two days after adding Weber, Bergevin signed Alexander Radulov to his first NHL contract in several years after a notorious split from the Predators and leaving for the KHL four years prior.

While the Weber-Subban trade will go down as his most notable and wildest overall, another unexpected action (or inaction) was Bergevin deciding to not match the offer sheet Kotkaniemi signed with Carolina in September, just prior to the 2021-22 season.

There seems to be talk annually about which RFAs might sign an offer sheet, but it’s usually just hot air, and when it’s not teams usually quickly decide to match. Bergevin didn’t, Kotkaniemi left and Bergevin ended up using a compensatory first-round pick to swing a trade for Christian Dvorak so one day, with the benefit of hindsight, that offer sheet fiasco could could go down as a win for the franchise and one of Bergevin’s final lasting marks on the team.

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Soccer: Ronaldo hits back at ‘lies’ about Ballon d’Or rivalry with Messi

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Cristiano Ronaldo has hit back at comments made by Ballon d’Or organiser Pascal Ferre, saying the editor-in-chief of France Football “lied” about his rivalry with Lionel Messi.

Ferre told the New York Times on Friday that Manchester United forward Ronaldo’s sole ambition was to retire with more of the awards for the world’s best player than Messi.

Argentine Messi, who joined Paris St Germain on a free transfer from Barcelona during the close season, beat Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho to claim a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or award https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/messi-claims-record-extending-seventh-ballon-dor-2021-11-29.

“Pascal Ferre lied, he used my name to promote himself and to promote the publication he works for,” Ronaldo, who has won the award five times, said in an Instagram post on Monday.

“It is unacceptable that the person responsible for awarding such a prestigious prize could lie in this way, in absolute disrespect for someone who has always respected France Football and the Ballon d’Or.”

France Football did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment on Ronaldo’s post.

“I always win for myself and for the clubs I represent, I win for myself and for those who love me. I don’t win against someone,” added the Portugal forward.

“The biggest ambition of my career is to leave my name written in golden letters in the history of world football.”

 

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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Bettman played role in Habs hiring of Gorton to run hockey operations – Montreal Gazette

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“Gary and I have a great relationship and we talk about these things all the time,” Habs owner Geoff Molson says about NHL commissioner.

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One of the people who recommended Geoff Molson hire Jeff Gorton was none other than NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

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“Gary and I have a great relationship and we talk about these things all the time,” Molson said Monday when asked if he had spoken with Bettman before hiring Gorton as the Canadiens’ new executive vice-president of hockey operations. “And when I have a situation that I’m trying to figure out, he’s one of those people that I trust and I rely on for his opinion. So when the name Jeff Gorton surfaced, for sure (he spoke to Bettman). Because he knows him, he works at the NHL — or he worked at the NHL as of yesterday — and so they got to know each other. He’s also been in the New York market. So, for sure, someone like Gary has a valued opinion and I value that.”

Gorton, who has signed a long-term contract with the Canadiens, had been working as an analyst with the NHL Network after being fired as GM of the New York Rangers in May.

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A source told the Montreal Gazette that Bettman had also recommended Gorton for the GM job with Chicago after Stan Bowman resigned last month following an investigation that showed the Blackhawks had mishandled allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player during the team’s Stanley Cup run in 2010.

“I think when you do your research on Jeff Gorton, you find that he has a very good reputation not only as a person but as a general manager and as somebody who can build relationships,” Molson said. “When I met with him, I was thoroughly impressed. And when I talked to other people in my circle about him, there were nothing but positive things to say about him. So I think we’re all going to really like to have him here. It will be a breath of fresh air and a fresh start is really important to me.”

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Gorton will lead the search for a new bilingual GM to replace Marc Bergevin and a new director of amateur scouting to replace assistant GM Trevor Timmins, who were both fired Sunday. Molson said his role won’t change.

“This decision to restructure the leadership of hockey operations has nothing to do with my role as president,” Molson said. “In the past, Marc was accountable for hockey performance, now there will be two (people). This is entirely my decision that I believe will make this team better.

“In terms of Jeff and what his vision is, I think Jeff is going to come here and we’re going to start a process to find the general manager that’s going to work alongside him,” Molson added. “But Jeff is going to come here and the new person is going to come here, and they’re going to assess the situation and they’re going to develop an identity that they want to have for this team and that’s their job — that’s not really my job. The one thing I can say about Jeff is he’s had many, many years of experience in various different roles, not only from a recruiting perspective or a scouting perspective, but also as assistant general manager and general manager of two teams (the Boston Bruins and the Rangers) and so to bring that breadth and depth of experience, I have no doubt that he and the new person will be able to develop a vision.”

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When asked if Gorton and the new GM will be given carte blanche when it comes to making changes, Molson said: “The two of them will be working together to make good decisions for the good of the organization. … When something has to happen that’s team related, the general manager has to be the final responsible person in making that decision, has to be accountable for it. But as far as everything else goes, personally I live in the business world and I see my teams working together and making decisions together, and to have two people thinking about making a smart decision is way better than having one person, especially in this market.”

scowan@postmedia.com

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  1. Geoff Molson, owner and president of the Montreal Canadiens, during news conference explaining the firing of general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant general manager Trevor Timmins and senior vice-president (public affairs and communications) Paul Wilson in Brossard on Nov. 29, 2021.

    Stu Cowan: Canadiens won’t budge from having a bilingual GM

  2. Jeff Gorton prepares to work the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021, in Secaucus, N.J.

    Canadiens will rely on front-office tandem led by Jeff Gorton

  3. Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson, seen in a file photo, will hold a news conference at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday at 11 a.m.

    Stu Cowan: Habs take first steps in getting franchise back on track

  4. Marc Bergevin's most notable successes as Habs GM were the playoff run in 2014 and last summer’s run to within three victories of a championship. He is seen here in a file photo.

    Jack Todd: Firings mark the end of a tumultuous 2021 for the Canadiens

  5. Geoff Molson, owner and president of the Montreal Canadiens, at news conference explaining Sunday's firing of of general manager Marc Bergevin, assistant general manager Trevor Timmins and senior vice-president (public affairs and communications) Paul Wilson on Nov. 29, 2021, in Brossard.

    What the Puck: Kudos to Molson for cleaning Canadiens’ house

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