Michel Bergeron (ice hockey, born 1946)

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

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

Coaching career

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

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


TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
QUE1980–81 74292916(78)4th in AdamsLost in Division Semifinals
QUE1981–82 80333116824th in AdamsLost in Conference Finals
QUE1982–83 80343412804th in AdamsLost in Division Semifinals
QUE1983–84 80422810943rd in AdamsLost in Division Finals
QUE1984–85 8041309912nd in AdamsLost in Conference Finals
QUE1985–86 8043316921st in AdamsLost in Division Semifinals
QUE1986–87 80313910724th in AdamsLost in Division Finals
NYR1987–88 80363410825th in PatrickMissed playoffs
NYR1988–89 7837338(82)(fired)
QUE1989–90 8012617315th in AdamsMissed playoffs


TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
TRO1975–76 7236315772nd in EastLost in second round
TRO1976–77 72382410863rd in DilioLost in first round
TRO1977–78 72471871011st in DilioWon President's Cup
TRO1978–79 7258861221st in DilioWon President's Cup
TRO1979–80 7236279814th in DilioLost in first round


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
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