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Sports What the Puck: Bergevin reveals little about COVID-19 impact on Habs

02:45  14 july  2020
02:45  14 july  2020 Source:   montrealgazette.com

NHL podcast: Ken Dryden on COVID-19, Scotty Bowman, and head hits

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Marc Bergevin holding a sign: Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin responds to a question at the team's annual golf tournament in Laval-sur-le-Lac, on Sept. 9, 2019. © Paul Chiasson Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin responds to a question at the team's annual golf tournament in Laval-sur-le-Lac, on Sept. 9, 2019.

Well, I’m glad Marc Bergevin cleared everything up Monday. Not!

The Montreal Canadiens’ general manager held a short video conference on the first day of his team’s training camp and the nicest thing I can say about it is I didn’t know any more after it ended than I did when it started late Monday morning.

Leading up to the conference, it had been an action-packed day or so for Habs fans. On Sunday, the team announced that forward Max Domi will take seven to 10 days to decide if he wants to be part of these unusual playoffs. He has Type 1 diabetes and could be at greater risk than others if he contracts COVID-19.

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We also learned during the weekend that Karl Alzner will not be joining the team for any of this summer fun, taking advantage of the National Hockey League rule that allowed any player to drop out before 5 p.m. Monday without suffering any penalty. I know, it’s crushing news for Habs fans to think the team will have to hobble along without Alzner. Please add a #sarcasm.

Alzner was demoted to the American Hockey League, where he’s spent most of the past two seasons as the highest-paid player in the AHL, and we all knew he wasn’t going to be part of the team’s plans in these wonky playoffs.

Then came the report Sunday evening from the Athletic’s Arpon Basu that said that league sources had told him three Canadiens players had tested positive for COVID-19. Aside from Domi, three other Habs were not on the ice at the Brossard practice facility Monday. They were Josh Brook, Brett Kulak and Xavier Ouellet.

Max Domi to wait 7-10 days before deciding on joining Habs

  Max Domi to wait 7-10 days before deciding on joining Habs Forward Max Domi will not be on the ice Monday when the Canadiens open their training camp in phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play scheme. General manager Marc Bergevin said Sunday that the team has agreed with Domi to wait seven to 10 days before deciding if he would join his teammates at training camp. The timing indicates that Domi has concerns about the first part of the camp in Brossard and would prefer to wait until July 26, when the team relocates to a more secure bubble environment in Toronto. Domi is potentially at greater risk for COVID-19 because he is a Type 1 diabetic and also suffers from celiac disease. Both conditions require him to carefully monitor his diet.

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On Monday morning, the Habs announced that they signed Russian defenceman Alexander Romanov to a three-year, entry-level deal and that he will participate in the training camp, but not the tournament.

Then came Bergevin’s chat with the media and he really didn’t add much of anything. His comments about Domi just muddied the waters further. Asked if the team had made a special arrangement with the league given that Domi was clearly not going to make his decision before 5 p.m. Monday, the Habs GM didn’t answer the question.

Related

I get that Bergevin can’t break NHL rules and reveal the names of the players who tested positive, but he could’ve given us some straight talk about what it’s like to manage a hockey team amid a pandemic. But he didn’t.

Bergevin doesn't see downside to NHL return experience as club returns to ice

  Bergevin doesn't see downside to NHL return experience as club returns to ice BROSSARD, Que. — Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin abided by the code of silence imposed by the NHL, declining to comment on a report about potential positive COVID-19 cases on his club. On Sunday night, The Athletic reported at least three players on the team had tested positive in recent days. On Monday, they reported via sources that two of the cases were false positives. There were three players absent on the ice at the club'sOn Sunday night, The Athletic reported at least three players on the team had tested positive in recent days. On Monday, they reported via sources that two of the cases were false positives.

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The fact is the NHL’s rule about providing no information about players who test positive for COVID-19 fits perfectly with Montreal’s public-relations strategy, which is all about keeping us irritating journalists at a distance and feeding us as little unfiltered particulars as possible.

So what did the GM say? He went back to his mantra and said — I swear he did! — that anything is his possible. This is the philosophy of the 21st century Canadiens. Stumble into the playoffs, which is exactly what happened this year, and maybe that lucky horseshoe will get you through a few rounds even if, on paper, you don’t have any right to be in these playoffs.

“It’s never been seen before,” said Bergevin. “Playing in an empty stadium. It’s going to be so different. Playing against a team that has playoff experience, a team that we somehow had success against this year (Montreal had a 1-1-1 record against the Penguins during the regular season) and it’s a short series, so you know anything’s possible.”

He also said “it is a chance to show that we are a good team and we belong in this and it’s going to be up to us to show it when we get to the hub city, which is Toronto.”

Well, I’d put it another way. This team played 71 games in the regular season to show that it was a good team and, with a 71 points, they clearly showed that they weren’t a good team. Of course anything can happen, especially in these bizarre playoffs, where the champion might just end up being the team with the least COVID-19 in its dressing room.

You can see why the GM is feeling good. They weren’t going to be in the playoffs and now they have a shot at making it if they beat the Pens three times. So I guess he’s right. Anything can happen. In fact, crazy stuff can happen, like the Habs making the playoffs.

bkelly@postmedia.com

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Canadiens head to Toronto with Domi on the fourth line .
Is Max Domi a fourth-liner? Or is he, as coach Claude Julien said Saturday, a guy who’s playing centre on one of the four lines? As the Canadiens wrapped the Brossard portion of the phase 3 Return to Play training camp, Domi was in the middle of what appeared to be a fourth line. He was joined by Jordan Weal and Dale Weise, a veteran, albeit one who spent the first half of the season in the American Hockey League. Julien, who doesn’t like to Or is he, as coach Claude Julien said Saturday, a guy who’s playing centre on one of the four lines?

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