Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Canadiens Confirm Michel Therrien is New Coach

As reported during the night, the Montreal Canadiens confirmed that Michel Therrien is the club's new Head Coach.  Official announcement: http://canadiens.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=633838

There will be a press conference at 2:30 PM today.  We'll be Tweeting live quotes, and then have the highlights up here.

I've spent considerable time discussing the negatives of a possible Therrien hiring, so here are some positives.  He's a good tactician who adapts his strategies in-game, playing whoever has been impressing on a given night by going with gut feelings.  In stark contrast to Jacques Martin, he is quite emotional, and displays his feelings behind the bench.  So while it is a first Marc Bergevin move that leaves me feeling uneasy, let's give it a chance.  And hope for top notch candidates as his Assistant Coaches.  Early discussion has Guy Carbonneau and Martin Lapointe has leading candidates to assist Therrien behind the bench, but I hope at least one person hired will come in with a longer history and established specialties.


Some takes on Therrien's hiring:

Former Montreal Canadien Terry Ryan:
"Nice [expletive] pick Habs. Who's going to be the Assistant Coach, Darth Vader?  He was ignorant then, and how do you know he has evolved now?  He would chain smoke on the team bus.  I hated playing for him more than any other coach.  I would fly home to my family at year's end crying; they had me go see a psychologiest.  But he knows hockey very well.  I hope for the sake of the Montreal Canadiens - and the New York Yankees are baseball's Montreal Canadiens - that he has learnt something."

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta:
"Therrien has an excellent reputation in the league.  I've played against his teams on numerous occasions and they're always tough to play against.  He's proven in the past, notably with Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate, that he is good at developing young players, and that looks good for our group."

Former Habs GM Andre Savard, who was one of Therrien's Assistant Coaches with the Penguins:
"Michel deserved to be back, to have another chance.  His background is as impressive or more than many coaches around the league.  I didn't hire Michel in Montreal; I was named by the President after his hiring, and I haven't spoken with him in a little while.  But if he were to call me about a possible position, I'd be happy to listen."

Pascal Dupuis, who played for Therrien with the Penguins:
"He gets the most out of his players.  Everyone describes him as a tough guy, but if you give him your best, he's ok."


General Manager Marc Bergevin says he interviewed "a lot of candidates" for the coaching position, later specifying "less than 10."  He chose Therrien - a decision that he ultimately made himself - because he has leadership, has enjoyed success at all levels, and sees himself communicating/working well with him.

Therrien himself repeated a few phrases frequently, citing that what he would most importantly look to change is the work ethic of the team.  He said it's important for fans to be able to applaud a team that is outworking its opposition every game; a team that is disciplined on and off the ice.  As a coach, he said it's important for him to be adaptable and flexible, saying he's learnt from his experiences in Montreal, Pittsburgh, and the AHL, and feels far more prepared to take this job today than when he first accepted it some 12 years ago.  Acknowledging that he didn't like the results last season, he sees potential on this team, and has as a short-term goal getting back into the playoffs.

Therrien says its important the leadership core on this team leads by example. His first call will be to captain Brian Gionta, who he understands had a frustrating season with injuries.  He likes the first line in place, the responsibility of a Tomas Plekanec, having a great young goaltender in Carey Price, and that the team will have a healthy Andrei Markov (the only player still around from Therrien's last tenure) out of the gate.  He looks forward to an exciting challenge of coaching a young P.K. Subban who he sees as full of potential (calling him a thoroughbred, the kind of guys you win with), and with good guidance, a future leader.  Lastly, in an interview after the press conference, he also named Lars Eller as a player headed in the right direction, a good sign since some were worried about his critical comments towards Eller as an analyst.

With regards to his Assistants, Therrien said he admired the work done by the guys in place (Randy Cunneyworth, Randy Ladouceur, and Pierre Groulx), but that it was only his first day and he hadn't gotten to that point yet.  He discussed a "profile" with Bergevin, and it's something they would work on in the coming days and weeks.  No names.

Perhaps most importantly was a quote by Therrien where he said that not all players need to be treated the same.  "Some need taps on the back all the time, some just once.  Some need to be taken a harder stance with."  This was another area of major concern with how he would handle his players, so at the very least, he's saying the right things for now.

Like him or not Habs fans, he's Bergevin's choice. Let's give him a chance - at least half a season before we really criticize - and hope for the best!


Anonymous said...

I agree with you, but smart people change and improve. We have to trust management did the right thing. MT has to know the sentiment out there about him and i think his his press conference will reflect this. Anyways fans and media have to put the knives away and support the HABS 100%. MT doesn't deserve to wake up to negative media each day.
if you get 2 similar comments it is my newness on postings.

TBoneTucker said...

Brian Gionta's comments are at least somewhat reassuring. The most important thing is that the veteran leaders on the team buy into whatever the coach is preaching, and it sounds like the captain has already bought in. So far so good.