This is my first post for the AATH family. I wish my first article here would be about how great the Habs have been playing, how promising their future looks. But no, unfortunately, I can’t talk about that. I am not here today to find a solution to the Montreal Canadiens’ problems. Whether a coaching change is in need or a trade, or both, I will let others figure that one out for now. Rather, I am here to talk about an all too familiar narrative that has followed the Montreal Canadiens for the past few seasons. Trust me, you know it: Habs fire a coach after or midway through a disappointing season, hires a new one, the team does great for a season or two, and then the team crumbles and the coach gets fired. The cycle repeats itself…
Fans and media are demanding Michel Therrien’s head for some time now. While I can’t deny that much of the Canadiens’ lack of success in the past two months is probably his fault, I can’t help but wonder if firing the coach is truly the solution. Let’s take a look at the past few Montreal Canadiens’ coaches, starting with Guy Carbonneau.
When Carbo took over in 2006, he missed the playoffs that season but the Habs seemed to be on the right track. He followed that season up with a trip to the Conference semi-finals and finished the regular season atop of the Northeast division (now the Atlantic division). However, he was fired in 2009 after the team struggled to regain its no.1 form from the previous season.
In comes Jacques Martin. Similar to Carbo, he lead the Habs to 4th place in the Northeast division, but lead them to the Conference finals in his first year, where they lost to the Philadephia Flyers in 5 games. Despite this, positivity reigned over the teams recent performances and the future seemed bright. Unfortunately, after bringing the Habs to 2nd overall in their division in 2010-2011, he couldn’t lead them past the 1st round of the playoffs and struggled the following season, and got fired.
Michel Therrien is then re-hired as a result of a lengthy interview process. His first season here, he leads the Habs to 1st in the division, but lost in the 1st round of the playoffs. He follows that by a 3rd place finish in the Atlantic division and a trip to the Conference finals, losing to the New York Rangers in 6 games. Again, much like Martin, things seem to be going really well for the Habs and the future looks promising… maybe even a Stanley Cup! And you know, as much as last season’s 2nd round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was disappointing, Therrien seemed to have the locker room together, especially at the start of the current season. So far, we have seen a mash up of all those years across 40 games: Habs play some of their best hockey and are off to their best start in history, followed by an incredible meltdown that leads us to where we are today.
Do you see a pattern? It’s the same story that starts over and over again. Fans get hope because a new guy comes in, the team shows us a glimmer of hope, and then all of the sudden, we’re back to square one. Are the Habs just good at hiring bad coaches? Or is there something else fundamentally wrong with the team?
I’m tired of going through the same ups and downs every 2-3 years with the Habs. At this point, I don’t know if a new coach will make a difference in the long run. The best candidate available is Guy Boucher. I love that man and was sad to see him join the Lightning after coaching our AHL team. Unfortunately, he similarly struggled to keep Tampa Bay as a consistent playoff contender after taking them to the Eastern Conference finals in the 2010-2011 season.
The Habs have to do something. There’s no question about that. I’m not a Michel Therrien lover by any means, but I am also sick of watching our coaches getting fired and seeing the same thing happen with the new one a few years later. I could understand why Marc Bergevin would be hesitant to fire Therrien after all the turmoil and changes the team have been through over the last decade with coaching staff changes coming as often as the seasons change in Montreal. But somethings gotta give very soon. I wouldn’t be surprised if the cycle repeats itself, as the coach is always the one who takes the blame. I just hope that the cycle changes, and the Habs can finally instill some stability because this is getting absolutely ridiculous for both you and me.