The Montreal Canadiens fanbase is still coming to terms with the trade that sent defenceman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators in exchange for defenceman Shea Weber. And the Montreal Canadiens organization has done its fair weather best to try to spin the deal into something palatable.
On Monday, president and owner Geoff Molson was at bat. He was announcing the move of the Habs’ AHL affiliate to a new rink in Laval, but he also took the time to address the Subban issue.
“I’m not surprised how the fans have reacted,” Molson said. “P.K. is a bigger-than-life person on and off the ice and our fans love him and still will love him. I appreciate that, but I also appreciate what I’ve hired (general manager) Marc Bergevin to do and that is to make our team better. I’m confident he’s done that.”
Now, there’s nothing overly remarkable about that statement. It’s typical “stand by your owner” stuff and it’s to be expected, especially if the Canadiens are to have any cohesion behind the scenes.
And in fairness to Bergevin, he clearly made the deal he wanted to make.
The Canadiens missed the playoffs in 2015-2016 after an injury to goalie Carey Price shut things down, so attention turned to the core. Many observed that the team was too one-dimensional, that things fell off after goaltending. Bergevin set out to fill in some of the gaps, so to speak.
But he also rolled the dice, picking up the likes of Alexander Radulov and landing Andrew Shaw. In exchange, Subban and Lars Eller no longer wear the colours of Montreal and many fans are less than pleased.
Still, Molson gave him the vote of confidence.
“Marc Bergevin works to make our team better and all the work he’s done this spring to improve our team has been 100 percent supported by me,” said Molson. “That’s what I pay him for — to make our team better.”
There really is no tangible way to assess how these moves come together until the team takes the ice for the 2016-2017 season and some have attempted to cobble together the pieces. Some have even suggested, however wrongly, that the Canadiens got the better player in the Subban/Weber swap.
“We made a hockey decision to go ahead with Shea Weber and we believe we’re a better hockey team today, so we wish P.K. the best and now we’ll move forward with Shea Weber,” said Bergevin.
If only “belief” was sufficient to make a team better.