Last season, in spite of all the mismanagement, all the losing, all the negativity, I always managed to maintain positivity about the future. When Pierre Gauthier was on his way out, I wrote about how the next GM could come in, change almost nothing, and be universally praised.
For the most part this is exactly what Bergevin has done, although I think he's been decidedly better than an average general manager in the NHL, with the Michael Ryder trade looking like a magnificent move especially, and the hiring of Michel Therrien looks like a homerun.
But what I'd like to talk about isn't just the general manager, but also about how the perception of the team has changed even more than the results have.
For the first time that I can remember, aside from the very few fans who revel in the delusion that the Habs are garbage and would rather they lose so they're right than be wrong and see a winning team, everyone agrees that this team is legitimately strong.
Not only are they strong, but they're bound to get even stronger. Trevor TImmins has seen 6 straight first round picks make the NHL, including young Alex Galchenyuk.
Last season the Canadiens finished 3rd last in the entire NHL, drafted 3rd overall, and selected Galchenyuk. It was a risky pick on a player who missed an entire year due to knee surgery, but here he is producing at a better rate than Tyler Seguin did at the same age.
Alex Galchenyuk scored the game winning goal last night to clinch a playoff spot for the Montreal Canadiens, who are the third team in the NHL to do so. With 8 games remaining, nothing is set in stone for placing, but it would be very storybook to see the Canadiens go from 3rd last to 3rd best, partially because of their 3rd overal pick.
This organization has been building towards being a contender for a long time, most of it under the regime that is so hated by fans, but for the first time, that hope is visible. Not just for analytical fans, but visible to all fans.