Michel Bergeron (ice hockey, born 1946)

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Michel Bergeron
Born (1946-06-12) June 12, 1946 (age 73)
OccupationIce hockey coach

Michel Bergeron (born June 12, 1946) is a Canadian former ice hockey coach.

Coaching career[edit]

Bergeron began his coaching career behind the bench of a midget team from Rosemont, Quebec. During his second season, he led the team to a national championship. He then took over for the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs of the QMJHL, leading the team to two Memorial Cup appearances.[1]

Bergeron coached the Quebec Nordiques from 1980 to 1987. His teams gained a reputation for playing a high scoring, quick paced game. As coach, Bergeron also devoted significant time to pursuing European players, adding the Stastny brothers after their defection from Czechoslovakia.[2] His teams reached the postseason in each of seven years behind the Quebec bench, including two trips to the Wales Conference Finals.

Just before the 1987 draft, Bergeron was traded to the New York Rangers for a first round draft pick and $75,000, which was a first in NHL history.[3] In spite of on-ice achievements, Bergeron's relationship with the Nordiques front office had become rather strained in recent years. Nonetheless, his reputation as a strong motivator enticed the Rangers, who were seeking coaching stability; they had made 13 coaching changes in the previous 12 years.[4]

Bergeron's first season in New York saw the Rangers in a battle with the upstart New Jersey Devils for the final playoff spot in the Patrick Division. A tie with the Winnipeg Jets in the second-to-last game of the season left the Rangers and Devils tied with 80 points each. However, the Devils had one more win, meaning that if both teams won their final game, the Devils would advance on the tiebreaker. On the final day of the season, the Rangers easily defeated Bergeron's old team, the Nordiques, 3-0. Hours later, the Devils defeated the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, 3-2. The Devils went to the playoffs, and the Rangers went home. Had the Rangers defeated the Jets rather than tie them, they would have sealed the last playoff spot in the Patrick Division with their win over the Nordiques.

With two games remaining in the 1988–89 NHL season, general manager Phil Esposito fired Bergeron and named himself head coach for the remainder of the season. Even though the Rangers had secured a playoff spot, Bergeron had drawn the ire of Esposito by vocally requesting a contract extension; Esposito stating that the firing was rooted in "philosophical differences."[5]

Bergeron returned to Quebec during the 1989–90 NHL season, presiding over a ghastly 12-win season that is still the worst in Nordiques/Avalanche franchise history (both NHL and WHA). He was fired after the season. His 265 wins over two stints are still the most in franchise history. Due in part to the 1989-90 debacle, he also owns the most career losses in franchise history.

In December 1990, he was treated for a mild heart attack.[6]


Bergeron earned the nicknames of "Le Tigre" ("The Tiger") and "Napoleon", in reference to his fiery temper, small stature, and French lineage. Bergeron reportedly even got under the nerves of Cuban leader Fidel Castro; in 1964, Bergeron was the catcher on a travelling Canadian baseball team, and, despite the tradition of visiting teams showing deference to the Cuban executive during his appearances in games, Bergeron cut down Castro as he attempted to score.[4]

Broadcasting career[edit]

Bergeron served as panelist on the popular French talkshow "l'antichambre" which is broadcast on RDS. He spent 6 years with RDS and he was nicknamed "le capitaine" on the talkshow. Bergeron quit RDS for TVA Sports on December 19, 2013. He is a panelist before and during games when TVA broadcasts NHL hockey. TVA Sports recently acquired the rights to broadcast 20 regular season Montreal Canadiens games in French.[7]

Coaching record[edit]


Team Year Regular season Postseason
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
QUE 1980–81 74 29 29 16 (78) 4th in Adams Lost in Division Semifinals
QUE 1981–82 80 33 31 16 82 4th in Adams Lost in Conference Finals
QUE 1982–83 80 34 34 12 80 4th in Adams Lost in Division Semifinals
QUE 1983–84 80 42 28 10 94 3rd in Adams Lost in Division Finals
QUE 1984–85 80 41 30 9 91 2nd in Adams Lost in Conference Finals
QUE 1985–86 80 43 31 6 92 1st in Adams Lost in Division Semifinals
QUE 1986–87 80 31 39 10 72 4th in Adams Lost in Division Finals
NYR 1987–88 80 36 34 10 82 5th in Patrick Missed playoffs
NYR 1988–89 78 37 33 8 (82) (fired)
QUE 1989–90 80 12 61 7 31 5th in Adams Missed playoffs
Total 792 338 350 104


Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
TRO 1975–76 72 36 31 5 77 2nd in East Lost in second round
TRO 1976–77 72 38 24 10 86 3rd in Dilio Lost in first round
TRO 1977–78 72 47 18 7 101 1st in Dilio Won President's Cup
TRO 1978–79 72 58 8 6 122 1st in Dilio Won President's Cup
TRO 1979–80 72 36 27 9 81 4th in Dilio Lost in first round


  1. ^ "The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  2. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1125081/1/index.htm
  3. ^ "John Farrell joins select company of traded bench bosses | CBC Sports". CBC. CBC Sports. 22 October 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b Eskenazi, Gerald (1987-06-19). "Rangers Pull a Surprise: Bergeron Becomes Coach". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-08-25.
  5. ^ "Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  6. ^ "Bergeron is stable after heart attackMichel Bergeron..."
  7. ^ "RDS.ca". RDS. Retrieved 2011-12-21.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Maurice Filion
Jean Perron
Head coach of the Quebec Nordiques
Succeeded by
Andre Savard
Dave Chambers
Preceded by
Phil Esposito
Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Phil Esposito