While the owners and players’ union are talking about a new collective bargaining agreement, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin has been moving ahead with his plans to restructure one of the National Hockey League’s most storied franchises.
On Monday, Bergevin announced the re-signing of forward Max Pacioretty to a six-year contract extension said to be worth $27 million. The 23-year-old winger had 33 goals and 65 total points in a breakthrough campaign last season.
“Max is one of the best players at his position in the league,” Bergevin told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s got size, he’s a power forward, he’s got determination. For us, he’s a key element in this organization. He’s shown Montreal fans that this is the place he wants to play for a long time and be successful, and that’s huge.”
Another prominent 23-year-old on the team wants a long-term contract too. Defenceman P.K. Subban had been making $875,000 per season under the terms of his entry-level contract, and would also like to get a deal done. French-language broadcaster Reseau Des Sports had reported Montreal tabled a $5.5-million, two-year offer to Subban, but the blueliner’s representatives denied the story. When asked about the status of talks with Subban, Bergevin said only that negtotiations were “ongoing.”
It’s believed the team would like to re-sign Subban to a short agreement before they offer a longer term to the Toronto native. Montreal just did that with forward Blake Geoffrion and had previously done the same thing with Pacioretty, defenceman Josh Georges and goaltender Carey Price, all of whom subsequently signed long-term contracts.
“There’s no question that people know that I enjoy playing (in Montreal),” Subban said in an interview. “I grew up a Montreal Canadiens fan. I love playing there and I want to play there for the rest of my career. … When you’re comfortable in a place, everybody would like a long-term deal.”
There is also word that Bergevin is interested in free agent Shane Doan. The 35-year-old forward and current captain of the Phoenix Coyotes was supposed to visit Montreal some time ago, but Bergevin denied meeting with him. It can be confirmed, however, that the two have indeed met at least once before — on the ice during the 1995-96 season, Doan’s first in the NHL.
After finishing dead last in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens fired previous general manager Pierre Gauthier and hired Bergevin to revamp the club; by all indications, this former defenceman is not letting any grass grow (or ice melt) under his feet.