“The team concept will always prevail. We’ll never, never, never change that.” – Michel Therrien after benching PK Subban for 10 minutes of the 3rd period in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Flyers.
Dismissing a coach in the NHL is never an easy thing to do. A team’s performance on the ice cannot just be thrown on the coach’s shoulders because obviously he’s not the one out on the ice. However, hockey is a team sport; and the coach is directly in charge of what players see the ice and of course, the style his team plays. No one can dispute the fact that coach’s decisions do in fact directly effect the outcome of a game. When a team is not playing to its full potential, both the coach and its players deserve equal blame; unless of course the blame is blatantly obvious…
The twittersphere literally blew up last night in utter rage towards the highly-scrutinized Canadiens Head Coach. As you can see, 4 of the top 5 trends last night were to do with Montreal. Clearly the fanbase is not pleased with the product on the ice. But should it come as a surprise? Anyone with two eyes can see that the Habs have struggled since late November and just prior to that, Montreal went on a 9-0-1 run. How is it possible to be a bi-polar professional hockey team? Are hockey players human? Yes. Can any team beat any team on any given night? Yes. Can a team go from being the hottest team in the NHL one week, to the driest team offensively the next? It shouldn’t be possible. We all remember that embarrassing 6-0 defeat the Kings handed us back on December 10th, but we were quick to dismiss it as an off-game. But over their next 8 games, the Canadiens would only muster up 14 goals, while giving up 18 and would go 4-4 in those 8 games. Since December 1st, the Habs have a record of 10-6-2 which isn’t bad at all, but the glaring point is the goal differential which is 42GF (2.3GPG), 47GA(2.6 GPG), so Therrien’s famous “you need 3 goals to win a game” wasn’t true at all. What we can gather from this is that the Habs win a lot of tight games which reflects Therrien’s coaching style, but it also shows us that Montreal gets blown out badly at times, which also reflects Therrien’s coaching. The Habs also dropped 4 losses to 2 teams trailing in the standings to both the Flyers and Panthers during this stretch. Blowing leads and falling behind early have also been big trends of late which undoubtedly reflects the coaching of Therrien.
At the beginning of last season, Therrien and Bergevin had the words “No Excuses” put up inside the Habs dressing room and even brought one to display for road games. Fast forward a year later, and Michel Therrien spews absolute gold in his post-game presser upon losing 2-1 to the lowly Panthers on home ice December 17th: “Energy wise, I could tell they’re drained. And when you’re drained, there’s no more juice. Physically, you’re tired. When you’re physically tired, your execution is not quite there. You make bad decisions mentally. It goes hand in hand”. Michel uses the biggest cop-out Habs’ media has ever heard. Sure the schedule has been tough as of late, but you cannot provide the media with these excuses. But how can one forget that this isn’t the first time Therrien has made a humongous mistake in the media? Last year just prior to the playoffs, MT admitted to the media that Carey Price had lost his confidence. Price, along with the rest of his teammates struggled down the stretch last season, but non worse than giving up nine goals on 33 shots in just over 50 minutes of game action against the rival Flyers and Leafs. Therrien was asked about his decision to go with Budaj instead of Price in the next game, his answer was very unprofessional: “we’re going to give [Price] the time to rebound, to recover his confidence”. Was Carey in fact struggling? Yes. Was Carey losing his confidence? Perhaps. Was that a professional thing to say to the media? Not in the slightest. If you know your star goalie is struggling with his confidence, then the worst thing to do is feed him to the wolves. You keep it in the locker room, you simply say your goaltender played poorly and expect him to bounce back. The controversy Therrien caused between Price and him ultimately got Pierre Groulx fired as the Habs gaoltending coach in the offseason in favour of Stephane Waite; which turned out to be a great fit.
Now as many have already started taking to their respective blogs and voicing their opinions on the matter such as AATH’s Sean Icon and Laura over at HabsEOTP, I have come up with 10 reasons to fire Michel Therrien. I could have probably came up with 20 or 30 reasons, but who wants to do that much reading?
10. For poorly using your timeouts on icing calls instead of late in the games, I wish to #FireTherrien
9. For calling out Alexei Emelin after last night’s game saying: “He’s obviously lost confidence. It’s never easy after that type of injury. We’ll continue to work with him”. I don’t remember Emelin ever playing right defense in his entire career, so for switching him there directly after recovering from knee surgery and wondering why he struggles, I wish to #FireTherrien
8. For being a stubborn prick and never making any in-game adjustments or having his team play to their strengths, I wish to #FireTherrien
7. For making excuses more than any coach in the entire league. At least Claude Noel and John Tortorella can admit when his team flat out sucked, but you on the other hand always have an excuse such as “the schedule is very demanding” or “a lot of our guys were banged-up”, so for being a hypocrite to your own rule NO EXCUSES, I wish to #FireTherrien
6. For being the absolute worst line and team matcher in the world. You simply cannot match the toughness of the Leafs or Bruins, and playing your 4th line with your 3rd defensive pair against the opposition’s top lines is recipe for disaster, so for sucking on the matching front, I wish to #FireTherrien
5. For asking Michael Bournival to find a home in Montreal only to have him warm the bench, or sit in the press box. On most nights when he’s been in the lineup, his speed is second to none, he blocks more shots than Prust, and is tied with Desharnais in goals with 6, he has definitely earned his place here. He could be getting top minutes in Hamilton, so for wetting the bed on this kid, I wish to #FireTherrien
4. For having the most predictable powerplay in the NHL. Michael Raffl after the game last night, “We knew what they were trying to do on the powerplay”. That’s awful. I mean thank goodness for PK Subban, but if your only play is to set him up for the one-timer with nobody in front of the net, good luck being consistent. And why the heck is Bouillon STILL getting powerplay time? I don’t care if you have a top-10 PP, half the time you can’t even get the puck in the zone to set up, you should be the best in the league, so for highly underachieving, I wish to #FireTherrien
3. For being terrible at using his bench. Desharnais is not a number one centre in the NHL, there is no debate. Douglas Murray is the worst defenseman in the league and it has been proven time and time again, so why he is even getting minutes is inexcusable. Ryan White has made huge strides in becoming a valuable player to this team, I mean he’s the best face-off man we have. For setting Danny Briere up to fail from day one, for giving Alex Galchenyuk one game as a centre against one of the biggest and strongest teams down the middle of the ice in the Blues and then declaring him “not ready” is a joke. For repeating the exact same things that got you fired from your previous two coaching stints such as not using your star-filled roster correctly (Crosby, Malkin, Letang, Subban, Galchenyuk and Eller), for showing favoritism, for “sending messages” and “teaching” players, I wish to #FireTherrien
2. For attempting to “teach” your best player to become a “better person”. For consistently criticizing, nit-picking, benching, slamming, blaming, questioning, mistreating, bad talking and benching your best player. For making the Norris Trophy winner a guy on the bubble for team Canada. For labeling him a “defensive liability”. For yelling at him like he’s some punk who just totaled your ’69 Mustang. For simply not allowing PK Subban to become the best defenseman in the NHL, I wish to #FireTherrien
1. For being another “beloved” francophone coach. Because like it our not Habs fans, the best coaches that Montreal ever had, were in fact ENGLISH. Toe Blake spoke English yet won 8 Stanley Cups as the coach of the Canadiens, and in 13 seasons as Head Coach, he won 500 out of 914 games, finishing 1st in the league 9 times. Dick Irvin is another English speaking coach who won 3 Stanley Cups during his 15 year tenure. During his 8 years behind the Habs bench, English speaking Scotty Bowman won 5 Stanley Cups; and won 419 of a possible 634 games. The numbers don’t lie, perhaps Quebecers should get over themselves and except the fact that winning is a lot more important than being a francophone. So for being French, I wish to #FireTherrien
I would love to see 3 legitimate reason why Bergevin should keep Therrien as his coach, but if one of those reasons are “look at the Habs record” then don’t bother. He uses his team in the wrong way and not to their strengths. Montreal is so high in the standings because of Carey Price, the terrible conference they’re in, and because of the great team Bergevin has assembled (granted he did make some UFA errors), it has nothing to do with their coach. Like I said earlier, I’m not here to propose a replacement; even though there are two pretty good ones currently jobless (Boucher, Laviolette), I do believe there is no better time than now to relieve Michel Therrien from his duties. If Therrien coaches the same game as the one he did last night in Philly, against the Blackhawks on Saturday night, you should expect to hear the boo-birds out in full force. The time is now Bergevin. Grow a pair and #FireTherrien