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Habs GM Bergevin defends Therrien from critics, says coaching staff will stay

05/15/2015 11:57 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT
BROSSARD, Que. - Montreal Canadiens fans who dream of Mike Babcock as the next coach had better think again: Michel Therrien isn't going anywhere.

General manager Marc Bergevin launched an emphatic defence of his third-year head coach at a news conference on Friday to wrap up the Canadiens season.

The Canadiens finished second overall in the NHL with 110 points this season, but some feel the numbers were misleading and that Therrien leaned on star goalie Carey Price to bail out a squad that struggled to score goals and was brutal on the power play.

Bergevin responded with numbers: The Canadiens played five rounds of playoffs in the last two seasons, behind only Chicago and the New York Rangers, and Therrien's squad was among the leaders with 29 playoff games played and 16 wins over that span.

"Michel Therrien has done exceptional work," said Bergevin. "Just the idea that Michel Therrien isn't an established coach, a winner, a quality coach, is disappointing to hear.

"It doesn't make me angry, it makes me disappointed that anyone could think that. I have no reason to make a change."

Bergevin said he expects Therrien's full staff, including Jean-Jacques Daigneault, Clement Jodoin, Dan Lacroix and goalie coach Stephane Waite to be back, despite its failure to fix a power play than ranked 23rd in the regular season and scored only twice on 36 chances in the playoffs.

The GM addressed a broad range of topics including the captaincy, whether 20-year-old Alex Galchenyuk should move from left wing to centre and whether the team will try to keep impending free-agent defenceman Jeff Petry.

When Brian Gionta was let go at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, the Canadiens did not name a new captain, instead naming Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty as alternates.

Bergevin said he would meet with management staff to decide whether to name one for next season.

"Based on last season, I think it worked well, but we'll sit down and decide what direction we'll take next year," he said.

He also acknowledged that gritty winger Brendan Gallagher will likely, at some unspecified point in the future, be considered for a letter on his jersey.

There were many questions on the need to add size to the centre position, where the top two, David Desharnais and Plekanec, are smaller than average.

Bergevin responded with his joke of the day, that he made a deal for a big centre on his PlayStation but when he called that team's general manager the next day, he got hung up on. His point was that a team that has a big, talented centre isn't likely to trade him.

The only realistic hope is to draft and develop one. Montreal thought it had that when it took Galchenyuk third overall in 2012, but he has played almost exclusively on left wing in three NHL seasons.

"Chucky (Galchenyuk) might never be a centreman," said Bergevin, who will soon be in negotiations for a new contract for the gifted forward. "Right now it doesn't look like he will, but he could be.

"But I don't want to focus on him because he's a good young player. He scored 20 goals, so he had a pretty good season."

Bergevin had high praise for Petry, who became a key player on defence after he was acquired from Edmonton on March 2. He hopes to sign him, but may have trouble fitting him into the team's salary cap space. Petry will be one of the most sought-after rearguards on the free agent market this summer.

He also hopes to sign trade deadline pickup Torrey Mitchell.

Veterans Manny Malhotra, Sergei Gonchar and Mike Weaver were all told they will not be back.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version mentioned Montreal Canadiens defenceman Nathan Beaulieu. That version initially referenced him with an incorrect first name.

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