It's simple. You're going to flip over quite steeply. I'm talking about fans and supporters of the Canadiens. Other readers, you're just going to freak out. Even those who are demanding, you will remain glued to the book Au coeur du cloakroom by Pierre Gervais.
Even easier. It's reminiscent of The Gameof Ken Dryden by the glance and the stories which are told in the book of Gervais… written by Mathias Brunet in a very simple style recalling the tone of a conversation.
You go all to understand. How we got to the Stanley Cup Finals in July 2021 and were the disgrace of the National League six months later.
You will understand what we guessed. That Marc Bergevin had a good flair for hockey, but that, for the rest, he too often had adolescent reactions. A hundred leagues from having the presence and credibility of a real general manager of the National Hockey League.
NOT EASY FOR DUCHARME
The equipment manager in his last photo of 'crew.
You will learn what happened with Dominique Ducharme and his players, and everything else. I'm telling you, I devoured the book in three hours and started again the next day.
And I'm resuming my reading this morning to make sure I don't miss anything.
And we start with Dominique Ducharme who is being skinned and who has already made the clicks of cash hockey sites. I have you read a few passages and Pierre Gervais explains to you:
– “Dominique could not win the esteem of the players. It showed in his way of addressing the group. The guys were also practicing too often that winter in the Canadian Division. »
– “Speaking of disorganization, too often players learned that they weren’t playing the wrong way. Cédric Paquette knew he would not face the Blackhawks when he arrived in the locker room in Chicago because one of his buddies in Montreal had told him by text message. It came out, I don't know where. He entered the locker room and saw that his friend wasn't making anything up, his uniform wasn't there…”
– “When I hear people say he lost his room at the end, he didn’t lose it because he never really got it. Luke had the room. The guys worked for him…”
It’s obvious that it’s screaming in town. Even Dominique Ducharme texted Pierre Gervais on Friday to defend himself and say that what was written in his book was not true. He added that he was three games short of winning the Stanley Cup and would return to the National League to win them.
“I replied that I had written down what I had seen and heard and that if he came back, I wished him good luck,” says Gervais.
TELLING THE TRUTH
“Fifteen years ago, Mathias Brunet told me that if I ever decided to write a book one day, he wanted to be the one who would collaborate. Never at the time did I think I would have this ambition. But there were so many people pushing me that I should write a book that I started thinking about it. In the spring, Richard Beaudry, the publisher, encouraged me and I decided to dive in. At first, I felt a bit like an impostor. But I learned to tell myself. And I made a very firm decision to say things as I had seen and heard them.
“It was the second time I did the exercise. When Chantal Machabée was named vice-president, we were in Vegas and I think Kent Hughes had only been hired the day before. I told Chantal that I wanted to eat with her and that I felt the duty to let her know the real situation. I told him how everything was all wrong. Three or four times, she almost fell off her chair, she was so surprised. She had no idea what had really happened, ”says Gervais…
BERGEVIN THE ADOLESCENT
Gervais was honored during his 2500th game, October 18, 2014.
– “Marc could be a very pleasant trader, but he was in a changeable mood. He could arrive in the morning and you wondered if he had just experienced a family disaster. I saw him shouting at players, like when he was playing. We could hear him screaming all the way to the other end. He could slam the door so hard he almost tore the hinges off. Then the next day, he arrived with a big smile. That was it, Marc.
He did great things, but he did great damage too. It would have served him well to be the deputy of a good general manager. We can't take away his flair and his knowledge of hockey, but he would have needed a mentor to learn how to manage staff, budgets, talk to people and manage his notoriety too…”
– “I perceived a certain lack of interest on his part between elimination in the final and the start of the 2021-2022 season. He had given Dominique Ducharme carte blanche to hire staff, such as the goalkeeper coach and a fitness specialist, for example, whereas in the past he had his nose everywhere. As DG, you have to stay informed… »
Gervais' book contains 1000 pearls. And the tone is generally positive. He recounts the pros and cons of hundreds of characters who have gone through his career spanning more than thirty years.
It's often tasty, sometimes luscious, and sometimes the look hurts the one being looked at. As is the case for Marc Bergevin. The short excerpts that enrich this interview tell explosive points of view. But the whole is more nuanced, it must be said.
Thus, he tells how Marc Bergevin was a breath of fresh air after the insane passage of Pierre Gauthier and his vegetable cheese pizzas. But he also underlines how much Bergevin has changed over the years and that his behavior and his looks of a retarded teenager have undermined his credibility: “And then, it must be said, it was too often the emotions that guided the Mark's decisions. Moreover, he felt stalked in public and became unlivable if fans or amateurs came to talk to him. He treated them like lousy people. I had invited him fishing with my group in Abitibi. He had been fun in the cabin and with friends. But at the airport, it had been a disaster with people”, notes Gervais in an interview: “But all that is told in the book”. He's right.
SUBBAN, PACIORETTY AND PRICE
Players could always count on him, like here Tomas Plekanec having his skate blade fixed.
When I say that Inside the Locker Room is exciting, I'm not exaggerating. You will have confirmation that the journalist Michel Villeneuve was right and that Michel Therrien could no longer take Captain Max Pacioretty. Moreover, the title of the chapter dedicated to Pacioretty is eloquent: “A bad captain”.
Just as we are told the details of many players' chronic disgust for P.K. Subban. The interview with Gervais is interesting, but what he writes in his book is even better:
– “P.K. Subban was just a different guy. He always had to be seen, he could change the music in the room without asking while the guys were listening to country, quiet. He dressed eccentrically. It wasn't his dress or his taste in music that was the problem, but the fact that he always needed all the attention. It wore the guys out in the long run.
I always used to say jokingly: if you want to punish P.K., take him into the woods, without a camera or a mirror, and after a day, he's going to freak out, that's for sure… »< /p>
– “Pacioretty had a lot of trouble with P.K. The two often argued. With the other players it was just okay, but everyone knew what kind of individual he was. No one was more important than him. He didn't get much respect from the guys. I look for friends for him in the locker room and it's hard for me to find any…”
When he talks about Carey Price, when he writes about him, Pierre Gervais has a completely different tone.
“I loved and deeply love Carey Price. It is an extraordinarily generous heart. He has both feet firmly on the ground. In fact, he has one foot planted in the ground. He would arrive early in the morning, around 7:30 a.m., and we would chat while he stretched. He is a simple man who loves nature and the outdoors. I fell over the edge when I found out he was going to rehab. When I learned that it was alcohol, I did not understand at all. Never, never did he give a signal. I've seen guys come home drunk at the hotel or drunk the next day in the locker room, Carey Price, never, ”says Gervais.
As for the other aspects of Price's life, it's is discussed in a private conversation and we have come to the same conclusions. It will be in my book. Maybe.
COREY PERRY, SHEA WEBER, MARTIN ST-LOUIS
Legendary Bob Gainey and former CH captain Shea Weber presented a plaque to Pierre Gervais for his last NHL game on April 29.
The book is full of beautiful pages on the real leaders of recent years. Shea Weber, this quiet man who commanded absolute respect in the locker room and among opponents, is entitled to paragraphs to be cut out and stuck on a fridge door.
Corey Perry is even stronger: “I still can't understand how Marc Bergevin didn't offer Corey Perry at least a two-year contract. The young players this year enthusiastic about his leadership would be even better and would develop even better,” he said.
As for Martin St-Louis, he is entitled to the most beautiful prose of the Gervais- Brunett. And these compliments are disinterested since Gervais is retired.
– “Martin spoke. I was very curious at that time. And it quickly became extremely interesting. I have seen coaches pass by in recent decades. Martin spoke to the guys in such an eloquent way… there is no such thing as perfection, but it was the closest we could have gotten. He was direct, he looked the players in the eye, he spoke well. There was no nervousness, he even allowed himself a few little jokes, but he was sending a message.
— Wow! launched Josh Anderson. »
You will find everything in the book. Pat Burns, Serge Savard whom he admires and respects, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, the trip to Moscow, the trip to London, Jean Perron, Jacques Demers, Réjean Houle, Michel Therrien, Alain Vigneault, José Théodore…
An incredible richness.
And this is how Pierre Gervais ends his book. That says it all.
– “Defender David Savard’s skates were the last ones I sharpened. He had asked me if he could be the last. I promised her. I sharpened them at the end of the day before the game and did not have to sharpen any more during the game. If that had been the case, I would have remade his pair to make sure I kept my word.
IN THE NOTEBOOK
Group CH Vice-President Finance, Anna Martini, is leaving the organization. A big loss…