In the world of sport, history often counts for nothing. While past success is something to look back on with pride, it ultimately has little bearing on present-day happenings. Despite giving eight years to the Montreal Canadiens, Stephane Waite was relieved of his duties as the goaltending director on March 3rd, 2020. The decision to part ways with the 55-year-old shocked many in the Habs’ fan base, who didn’t foresee such an imminent dismissal. But, what can we learn from Waite’s firing?
Marc Bergevin Isn’t Opposed to Abrupt Dismissals
Before joining the 24-time Stanley Cup winners, Waite twice won the honour as a goaltending coach with the Chicago Blackhawks. On paper, the 55-year-old has the necessary experience and credentials to help return the Canadiens to the pinnacle. That said, the team’s general manager, Marc Bergevin, clearly felt differently. Shortly before Waite’s dismissal, Habs’ interim head coach, Dominique Ducharme, praised the coach for his work with Carey Price. In turn, this somewhat made the firing even more surprising.
By his own admission, Bergevin states that the decision to part ways with Waite was his and his alone. The general manager insists that he didn’t consult Price on the matter. Fascinatingly, a conclusive judgment was made during the Canadiens’ two-goal victory over Ottawa Senators on March 3rd, 2021.
Perhaps the most significant takeaway from the saga relates to the timeliness of Bergevin’s decision-making. Of course, if things aren’t working, then it’s only right that they’re changed. However, the Habs last won the Stanley Cup in 1993, and some consistency wouldn’t hinder their chances of qualifying for the playoffs in 2020-21. As of March 4th, the Montreal Canadiens are +1400 in NHL betting odds to win the North Division and reach the knockout bracket.
The Appointment of Sean Burke
Along with Waite, the 24-time Stanley Cup winners parted ways with their former coach, Claude Julien, on February 24th, 2021. Within a few weeks, the Habs have suffered a change of head coach and goaltending coach. However, despite the ongoing period of instability, it’s pivotal that the team and its supporters turn their attentions to the future.
Now, along with Ducharme taking over the reins, Bergevin has also promoted Sean Burke as the Canadiens’ new director of goaltending. During his playing days, the 54-year-old played for 18 seasons in the NHL and knows what it takes to win, having been a three-time NHL All-Star. Since 2016, Burke has been a pro scout in the Western Region for the Habs.
Only Time Will Validate the Decisions
There can be no doubts that Bergevin has the Canadiens’ best interest at heart, but his new-found ruthless streak has taken supporters by surprise. Collectively, they’re all aspiring to return to the pinnacle, but whether or not changing the coaching staff will help is currently unclear. As such, only time and results can validate Bergevin’s choices, which remain points of contention.