Friday 7 November 2014

John Molson Sports Marketing brings in big names: here is what Marc Bergevin had to say

Remember the name Ryan Garellek. The Côte Saint-Luc resident works for  John Molson Sports Marketing,  which is a subsidiary organization at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University. The organization's bread and butter in terms of events is its Annual Sports Business Conference, known as JMSM14.

Each year JMSM brings together some of North America’s best and brightest sports marketing students to network, interact with, and learn from industry executives. From president  to general managers, the conference hosts speakers from all of North America’s major leagues, whose insights prove useful for aspiring students. 

Somewhere between lectures, tutorials, and campus libraries is where you'll find  Garallek’s committee.  
From the heights of the bleachers to the depths of the field, sports is the common passion that unites, defines, and drives these youngsters. As their website says,  “Money makes the world go round more than that it fills stadiums, wins games, and builds dynasties. Sports and business will forever be intertwined.”

At Ryan’s invitation I dropped by the D.B. Clark Theatre at Concordia’s downtown campus on Friday, November 7 to hear Montreal Canadiens General Manager Marc Bergevin and Tampa Bay Lightning Assistant GM Julien BriseBois speak on a panel moderated by TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger

Julien BriseBois, Darren Drager, Marc Bergevin and Ryan Garrellek
This was a great opportunity to see how hard these guys actually work. BriseBois, who spent nine yers in the Habs head office, is constantly on the road scouting, overseeing the Lightning’s AHL minor league team in Syracuse and checking on prospects in junior. He credited his wife’s support and noted how he still tries to find as much time with his two boys, aged 7 and 5, as possible. “We even moved close to the rink,” he said.

Bergevin spent 20 years as a player in the NHL and then immediately moved into scouting and management (with one year as an assistant coach) so he says his kids were used of him being on the road. Referring to his present situation he said : “At the end of the day I am with the team most of the time.”

August, notes Bergevin, is usually the lightest month for GM as the roster is basically set.

Asked about what is the most important thing about the building and development of an organization, he noted how the draft is crucial. “The backbone of a franchise is the draft,”  he said. “It is very tricky.”

What has been his toughest decision so far? “Letting Brian Gionta and Josh Gorges go,” he said. “We discussed it in our war room, but ultimately it was my decision.”

Bergevin got some chuckles when he talked about the difference between  hockey in Chicago and Montreal. “If you go to the United Centre they have 21,000 fans; so do we at the Bell Centre,” he said. “They want their team to win; so do we. But after a game they go home, take off their Black Hawks jerseys and wait for the next game. They have the Bears, the Cubs, the White Sox. Our fans go home and they talk about the game. Their passion is off the charts. But there is no place I’d rather be.  I was gone for 28 years, but it is like I never left.

Others on the agenda include Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, LA Dodgers GM Ned Collettti, Director of Content and Analytics for Bloomberg Sports Alex Burwasser, TSN Hockey Analytis writer  Travis Yost, Columbus Blue Jackets Executive VP of Business Operations  Larry Hoepfner, Director of Corporate Partnerships for the Boston Celtics Chris Baker, Tampa Rays Director of Marketing Carey Cox, hockey agent Don Meehan and Cleveland Cavaliers President of Business Operations Kerry Bubolz

Activities continue at three venues: the DB Clarke Theatre, the Holiday Inn Expres at   155 Boulevard René-Lévesque Est and the Sports Station at 2051 Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest through Saturday night, You can see the full schedule at