Bergevin was recently fired by the Montreal Canadiens after the team got off to a horrid start only months after advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, which saw the Habs sitting last in the Eastern Conference. On-ice failures aside, Bergevin also brings off-ice questions to the Los Angeles organization.
His hiring begs the question — did Marc Bergevin deserve another chance? And does Rob Blake need advice from Bergevin?
Marc Bergevin’s Hire Raises Questions
Looking at the Start
When news broke last year of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal, many NHL executives, coaches, and general managers were involved. Several individuals lost their jobs this year.
Some argue Bergevin brings Stanley Cup-winning experience to L.A. from his time with Chicago. He also brings the experience of existing in a culture that accepted and covered up the sexual abuse of a player, now known to be Kyle Beach.
Bergevin was not implicated in the 2010 cover-up. However, he served as the Director of Player Personnel that season. The team named him assistant general manager by 2011-12. Whether he knew of the situation or not, Bergevin was learning the ropes of NHL management from the men directly tied to the cover-up.
His Career in Montreal
Since then, Bergevin has shown a complete disregard for fostering an environment of safety and inclusion within his organization.
In 2016 he hired former NHL netminder Sean Burke to join the Canadiens scouting staff, and by 2021, Burke was the team’s goaltending coach. Police arrested Burke for assaulting his wife in 1997 and he was found guilty of domestic violence.
During his tenure, Bergevin was also linked to rumours surrounding interest in acquiring players such as Slava Voynov, who is guilty of domestic violence. There was also Tony DeAngelo, who has a history of racism in hockey. He successfully acquired Brandon Prust, who has since become a well-known bigot online. Prust has engaged in a variety of racist, and misogynist rants on Twitter, also making fun of Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for going home to his family during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Perhaps Bergevin’s most sordid acquisition was one of his last with Montreal. He drafted Logan Mailloux in the first round of the NHL draft in 2021, despite Mailloux’s recent conviction as a sexual offender. As Brock University’s Gianluca Agostinelli wrote in an article for The Conversation, by drafting Mailloux, a player who many teams immediately took off their draft board, “the Montreal Canadiens have not only tolerated rape culture, but legitimized it.”
Bergevin’s on-ice decision included trades shipping P.K. Subban out of town in the prime of his career. More notably, though, it was swapping defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin. While Shea Weber, the return for Subban, provided temporary value, his career is now over. Sergachev, on the other hand, helped Tampa Bay oust Montreal last year to win his second Stanley Cup. As for prospects, Bergevin mishandled Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and some could argue, Cole Caufield, if this season is any indication.
Rob Blake, however, has done well selling off spare parts and players on expiring contracts including Jeff Carter, Alec Martinez, Tyler Toffoli, Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford to stockpile draft picks as part of the club’s rebuild.
With all of this in mind, it’s unclear what Rob Blake means when he stated “Marc brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our hockey operations staff and will be a valuable addition to our group. We look forward to his contributions.”
Bergevin failed to produce a Stanley Cup in close to a decade as Montreal’s general manager. He built a culture that accepted sexual assault, exclusion, and violence against women. What could he advise on and contribute to the Los Angeles Kings?
Hockey needs new perspectives and new voices. Voices that do not foster these harmful legacies.
The hockey world likes to tout winning cultures as often as winning percentages. But with the recycling of Marc Bergevin and his hiring as an advisor to the Los Angeles Kings, the organization is achieving neither.
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