Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin does not like to negotiate players’ contracts in public, but on Tuesday, he didn’t have a choice when Brendan Gallagher’s agent Gerry Johansson told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun that contract talks with the Habs had broken off.
Bergevin then met with media members and responded in a very passive aggressive way.
This is going to get ugly.
“At the end of the day we have a (cap on) payroll that needs to be respected; we have an amount that will go to each player,” Bergevin said. “So my responsibility is to manage that payroll to have the best possible team on the ice. But at the end of the day the players also need to understand that it’s not an indefinite amount of money; it’s a fixed amount. So we have to be prudent and for the players, let’s be honest if they want to be in Montreal, they might have to make some sacrifices also for us to have a good team.”
According to team insider Arpon Basu, Bergevin used Gallagher’s own words against him seeing that the star forward had mentioned that money wasn’t everything, that winning was the most important thing in his decision-making towards a new deal.
Bergevin is calling Gallagher’s bluff and putting pressure on his player who dared to take the negotiations out in public.
“We have a salary (cap) to respect, and at the end of the day if our player wants to play in Montreal, there will be a certain amount available for everyone,” Bergevin said. “Some might not have any available to them. The ones who have some, they will have a decision to make. At the end of the day we have no choice. That’s where we are in terms of our payroll and that’s where we are with Covid where the cap won’t be moving for several years.”
As soon as it was made known that tension was growing between the Habs and Gallagher, rumours started surfacing that teams, like the Vancouver Canucks for example, were interested in acquiring him. The hometown boy would find it very hard to say no to the Canucks, though many people in Montreal pictured him as the next captain of the club.
It is easy to agree that Gallagher has fully earned the right to demand he be paid that way. But it might not have been the right call to bring the beef out in public and start a feud with his GM.
Bergevin ended his press conference with a statement that basically says that Gallagher, if he wants to play and win in Montreal, will need to adjust his contractual expectations.
“Right now it’s too early to tell you how everything will unfold, but I have to be careful with my payroll for several years.”
(At the end of the day) let's hope Gallagher thinks before he responds to this…