Skip to content
According to Richard Labbé, the Canadiens never considered drafting Patrice Bergeron
Credit: Maple Leafs Shot Stove

As I mentioned on Tuesday, it’s easy to judge the work of a scouting team a few years after a draft. We know which picks were good and which were not.

What’s even more interesting is to try and retrace the course of events to find out why these choices were made. What tipped the balance? Who was at the top of the list of teams? Who had the final say on the selections?

Usually, most of these questions remain unanswered forever.

Sometimes, however, we are fortunate enough to have access to solid testimonies, and we can find partial answers to these questions. Such is the case today, after Richard Labbé of La Presse appeared on BPM Sports.

The journalist took advantage of the announcement of Patrice Bergeron’s retirement to revisit his draft.

According to his discussions with well-placed people at the Habs, the team never had any intention of selecting the man who would go on to captain the Boston Bruins to the record for most career Frank-J.-Selke trophies.

In fact, he makes this statement in a kind of rule of three. You know, that famous mathematical rule that allows you to discover an unknown fact. Basically, he’s talking about his numerous discussions with CH executives on the subject of the draft, and according to what he says, Bergeron’s name has never come up. As he puts it so well, it would have been easy to say, years later, that the team would have liked to draft him, but that he was no longer available when they selected him for the second time in the second round of the 2003 draft.

But he says that was never the case. So he makes the calculation that if the Habs aren’t talking about Patrice Bergeron, it’s because they really didn’t have him on their radar back then.

Of course, now that he’s had the career he’s had, it’s easy to claim loud and clear that the Habs got it wrong. But back then, Bergeron was far from the spotlight. In a 2019 article, Mathias Brunet spoke with Daniel Doré, who was a Bruins scout in 2003.

In the article, he recounts how Bergeron didn’t attract scouts:

“There was also Bruno Gervais with the Titan, but teams probably thought there wasn’t much to go recruiting there. Based on the lack of scouts there, we were convinced that he would be available in the second round.” – Daniel Doré

The Bruins did just that, selecting Mark Stuart in the first round instead. A selection that didn’t have as much impact as Bergeron’s 45th overall.

Returning to the Habs, Labbé also reveals that the team had considerable hesitation with its first-round pick, 10th overall. There was a lot of discussion between the various scouts, and in the end, they settled on Andrei Kostitsyn rather than Jeff Carter.

In both cases, the players’ off-ice behavior was quite problematic. Carter eventually calmed down after leaving the Philadelphia Flyers, while Kostitsyn never seemed to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle for success in the NHL.

For so long, Trevor Timmins told anyone who would listen that one of the most important criteria for him was attitude. Funny how, with that in mind, he wanted to select either Andrei Kostitsyn or Jeff Carter that year (not to mention the selections of Alex Galchenyuk and Nathan Beaulieu a few years later).

So, either it’s not a very good evaluation criterion, or Timmins wasn’t very good at evaluating it properly!

Breaking news

– A new teammate for Tomas Plekanec.

– Will it be enough to get the Penguins back to the big time?

– In any case, both clubs seem to me to be ahead of the Canadian.

– Learn more about Patrice Bergeron off the ice and at the Gagné-Bergeron Pro-Am in Quebec City.

More Content