Marc Bergevin has already demonstrated some of the ancillary traits that prompted the Montreal Canadiens to hire him.
The real question of course, is does he posses the most pertinent characteristics required to succeed as a first-time general manager trying to turnaround a last-place club?
Anybody who even remotely followed the final tumultuous year of former Habs GM Pierre Gauthier knew the word communication was going to have a prominent role in the press conference to announce his successor.
Sure enough, both Bergevin and Canadiens owner Geoff Molson stressed the fact Bergevin is a conversationalist (in both languages, naturally) who will share what he can with the ravenous media, and more importantly, with the people he fills out the front office with.
It’s wonderful that the self-effacing Bergevin surely tells a better story than Gauthier, but the tale of his time in Montreal will be determined by his ability to put players in place that can elevate a fallen franchise, not how funny he is.
We don’t want to be naïve about the frenzied atmosphere that surrounds the Canadiens, but if a GM was simply better at identifying and cultivating talent than anybody else, he could get away with John Tortorella-type press conferences.
The good news for Montreal is Molson conducted an extended search and there’s every reason to believe Bergevin brings all the required elements to give this thing a good go.
He held a variety of front office jobs in Chicago during a seven-year period in which the team underwent a rebuild that culminated with a Stanley Cup in 2010. It’s safe to assume the Canadiens would love to mimic that blueprint.
Last year, Bergevin was the assistant GM to forward-thinking Blackhawks boss Stan Bowman. His father, Scotty, not only worked beside Bergevin in Chicago, but coached him Detroit. As far as mentors go, you could do worse than the best coach ever and his son, who not only has his name on the Stanley Cup, but was named after it.
Yes, Bergevin is new to the top job. But so was Peter Chiarelli before he turned the Boston Bruins into a Cup champion¬¬ last season, as was Stan Bowman the year before that and Pittsburgh’s Ray Shero the year before that.
Bergevin has been very open about the fact he’ll need assistance, going as far to say, "I’m just a piece of the puzzle," while addressing the Montreal media for the first time on Wednesday.
He also referenced the fact the Habs have some building blocks in place, most notably goaltender Carey Price, a restricted free agent as of July 1 whose need for a new contract has to be high on Bergevin’s extensive to-do list.
Another huge step for Montreal will be making the right decision when it picks third overall in June’s NHL Entry Draft.
Presumably, the Habs won’t get a player quite like Jonathan Toews — the No. 3 pick in the 2006 Draft by the Blackhawks — but the Canadiens can’t whiff while selecting in their highest slot since 1980.
When Bergevin hires a new coach to guide Montreal, the bench boss will take over a team that was worse than 27 other clubs in a 30-team league, but has the potential for a quick return to respectability with some shrewd tweaks.
And since the question will be asked constantly until there’s a resolution: yes, it’s unthinkable that Bergevin will allow Scott Gomez’s albatross $7.4-million cap hit to remain on the books, though a buyout only lowers the hit while dragging it out for four more seasons, while a demotion to the American League would remove the figure entirely.
At 46-years-old, Bergevin strikes that nice balance of being young enough to throw himself fully into the role, while still benefiting from the ample wisdom provided by two decades as an NHL player and nearly another one in management.
He certainly comes off as an authentic, emotive man who knows he’s gotten himself into a high-intensity situation, acknowledges having some of the nervousness you’d expect a person in that role to experience, but also the confidence to be the final and authoritative voice on all the big decisions related to the club.
"I know I’m ready," Bergevin said on Wednesday.
We already knew the guy could talk; now we get to find out if his words are true.