May 03, 2012
Marc Bergevin: Meet Montreal's New Boss
Marc Bergevin was a journeyman defenseman for nearly 1200 NHL games. He was not noted for his offense. He was mostly a depth blue liner who provided a simple and steady approach with physical play that surprised many due to his slight frame.
But more so than anything, he was known as a great teammate and a great presence in the dressing room. And as hockey's funniest guy. He loved practical jokes, and he played them on everybody - teammates, coaches, even the general manager on occasion, as well as trainers, reporters, flight attendants and just about anybody else who happened to be around. In fact, it is said that most of Bergevin's luggage on road trips consisted of props for his pranks rather than clothes and toiletries.
Let's take a look at a few of Marc Bergevin's best jokes:
• During the national anthem Bergevin would often lean to the guy next to him and say "I always have a terrible game when they play this damn song..."
• He once borrowed one of those head-to-toe plastic Sumo wrestler suits they sometimes dress fans in for intermission entertainment. He entered the dressing room wearing this suit, fittingly to the music of "Kung Fu Fighting." "I remember falling down and I couldn't get up and the guys, they were laughing so hard nobody could help me up. Finally the trainers helped me up," he said.
• At 30,000 feet, Tampa's Dan Boyle is losing his battle with air-sickness. The turbulance is tossing the passengers around like as salad. Bergevin undoes his seat belt and wanders around the plane screaming "Whweeeeee! Whooaaa! Whoooo!" much to Boyle's dislike.
• Another plane, another team, another turbulence story. Everyone is happy to leave the plane but Bergevin chats with a flight attendant and is the last one off after touchdown. Finally he joins his teammates in the terminal building, but he has lip stick smeared across his face. "Man, that was one rough flight."
• Bergevin was a childhood friend and teammate of Mario Lemieux. This is how Bergevin remembers playing with Mario as kids "He had me on left wing and a garbage can on right wing. The garbage can had 60 goals and I only had 35."
• No joke was too small for Bergevin. It was said he would often wear his hockey helmet while riding the stationary bike.
• Former teammate Ian Moran recalls this one: "One time, a stick rep – one of the guys from the hockey companies with sticks for the guys to try – came. They have these huge bags for carrying all the sticks. So we distracted the stick rep and Bergy got in the bag and waited for the guy to come back and unzip. When the guy did, he screamed and scared the heck out of him."
Bergevin says he has toned down his act since moving into the executive office.
"Once in a while I'll crack a joke, but I stay away from that mostly," Bergevin said. "It's not a big part of my life anymore. In the office, I like to joke around with the people up there, trying to keep things loose. In that regard I haven't changed."
He has spent the last 7 years in Chicago where he has served as a scout, assistant coach, director of player development and assistant general manager. He is especially noted for his identifying of young talent.
And now he has been named as the general manager of hockey's most storied franchise - the Montreal Canadiens. It surprised many people, as he was not the obvious choice. Storied they may be, but they have also hit rock bottom. Returning Les Glorieux to glory will be no easy task. Bergevin openly admits all the legal and financial demands of the job are not his strength.
But Montreal was looking for whole new attitude for the organization - from top to bottom. With that in mind they certainly accomplished the top portion of that. Bergevin will undoubtedly change the rest in time.
Whether the new attitude is accepted in Montreal by the fans and the media depends on only one thing - how many wins Les Canadiens get.
Posted by Joe Pelletier at 8:16 a.m.