Top 5 one-and-done Canadiens: #4 Marc-André Bergeron
The power play specialist was a last minute addition to the team thanks to an injury to Andrei Markov
In this series we look at the top five Canadiens since the year 2000 who made the biggest impact on the team in their only season of play on the team.
#4- Marc-André Bergeron (2009-2010), 34 points
Shortly into the 2009-2010 season, the Canadiens found themselves in a massive jam having lost Andrei Markov to a severed tendon in his foot.
They reached out to free agent Marc-André Bergeron on October 6th to fill the void. Bergeron played for four different team in four years and was on the free agent market for the first time. “It was a very hard summer. It was my first experience with free agency, and it did not go well. Yet three of my last four seasons were really good. The Canadiens didn’t make any promises as to my usage, but I am good offensively and I am able to collect points on the power play. Losing Markov created a hole in the line-up that I will try to fill.”
Bergeron put up 32 points the year before with the Minnesota Wild, and was only three seasons removed from a 46-point season split between the Edmonton Oilers and New York Islanders.
Having missed all of training camp, Bergeron was initially assigned to the American Hockey League. He played his first game on October 9th, where he collected two assists for the Hamilton Bollodgs, and then three assists the following game. Head coach Guy Boucher said that he was surprised, thinking that Bergeron would struggle at first given he hadn’t played in a while: “He was a bit over his head during the first practice with the team, but by the second one everything was in order. His skills on the power play are really special.”
Bergeron had to be patient in the AHL for a bit longer than he wanted, as the Habs recalled rookie Yannick Weber and veteran grinder Shawn Belle before him to fill their hemorrhaging defensive corps.
Finally, after 11 days in the AHL where he had six assists in three games, the Canadiens called him up.
In 60 regular season games with the Canadiens he scored 13 goals (good for eight in the League for defencemen) and added 21 assists for 34 points. Seven of his goals and 15 assists were on the power play, proving that he was indeed a power play specialist, and helped the team to second overall in the League in PP%, with a 21.84% efficiency.
But Bergeron was a one-dimensional player, and when it came to even-strength play he was not effective enough, showing endless defensive lapses. He spent numerous games playing left wing on the fourth line for the Canadiens at even strength, with head coach Jacques Martin preferring to shore up his defence with defenders like Ryan O’Byrne or Jay Leach.
In the playoffs Bergeron became a regular for the Canadiens, even playing on top pairing with Andrei Markov. But his ice time varied wildly based on the flow of the game. In game one against the Washington Capital he played 27 minutes, by game six he played only five and a half minutes after four consecutive minus games, and a team-worst -12 for the playoffs. In game seven however, despite only four minutes of ice time, he managed to score a power play goal that paved the way for the Habs to eliminate the Capitals.
As soon as the playoffs ended, Bergeron underwent surgery on his right knee to repair damage to his ACL that happened during the second game of the series against Washington. The injury caused him to miss several months, including the start of the free agency period where teams started re-stocking their cupboards. With the meteoric emergence of P.K. Subban, Bergeron became expendable on the Habs blueline and did not return for the following season, signing instead with the Tampa Bay Lightning mid-season.