Marc Bergevin says the decision to dismiss goaltending coach Stephane Waite on Tuesday was his own and he did not consult goaltender Carey Price in making it.
"The day I decide to do that (consult the players first), it will mean I'm not the right guy for the job," the Montreal Canadiens general manager told reporters in a Zoom call on Wednesday.
Bergevin also confirmed that the decision to replace Waite with new director of goaltending Sean Burke was made on Tuesday and he told Waite after the second period of Montreal's 3-1 win over the Ottawa Senators to avoid any distraction.
"This decision was not based only on this season. I had seen a bit of a pattern," he explained. "There were ups and downs...it was a gut feeling I had and sometimes I have to trust my instinct."
Bergevin added that he broke the news to Price after telling Waite and that the goaltender's response was "typical Carey," but the 33-year-old supported the decision.
"I made the decision based on the tools I need to give Carey and Jake to continue and to hit their full potential," said Bergevin. "Carey was told after the decision was made, after Stephane Waite was fired.
"Carey is still an excellent goalie, one of the best in the league, but he needs help."
The move came less than a week after he appointed Dominique Ducharme as interim head coach, replacing Claude Julien. Bergevin said Ducharme was consulted before Waite's firing but Ducharme did not ask him to switch the goalie coach.
Price made 26 saves for the victory Tuesday over the Senators, but has struggled in 2020-21. He entered Tuesday with a 5-4-3 record to go along with an .888 save percentage and 3.13 goals-against average this season. Over his previous six starts, the former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner was 1-4-1 with an .870 save percentage.
Montreal backup Jake Allen is 4-2-2 with a .929 save percentage and 2.12 GAA this season.
"I'm grateful for the time I spent with Steph," Price told reporters on Wednesday. -"He's been a hard-working, dedicated goalie coach and I really appreciate all that work he's done with us."
Burke is undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine before joining the team and Bergevin said he should be on the ice with Price and Allen on March 19 with the Vancouver Canucks in town. Laval Rocket goaltending coach Marco Marciano began work with Montreal's goaltenders on Wednesday morning and will continue to do so until Burke is cleared to join the squad in person.
Burke, 54, was originally hired by the Canadiens in 2016 as a professional scout for the Western region. He has also worked as a goaltending consultant for Montreal.
He spent six seasons as a member of the Coyotes' hockey management group, serving as goaltending coach and director of player development before being promoted to assistant general manager in 2012.
He had an 18-year NHL career, suiting up for eight organizations before moving into management post-retirement.
The three-time NHL All-Star represented Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Winter Olympics, and served as Canada's general manager at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang where the team won bronze without NHL players.
"He's a very good guy, very easy to talk to," said Price. "I obviously haven't been working with him a ton and I'm looking forward to this opportunity to working with him."
Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report.