Smart, passionate and somewhat biased commentary about the Montreal Canadiens (HABS) from a lifelong fan now living in Toronto (LeafLand).
Mar
15
2015

Michel Therrien: Therrific or Therrible?

Nevermind the naysayers, the Montreal Canadiens have improved year after year with Michel Therrien behind the bench.

Nevermind the naysayers, the Montreal Canadiens have improved year after year with Michel Therrien behind the bench.

Last time in this space I discussed and speculated the moves that Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin might make at the trade deadline. Picking up a defenseman in Jeff Petry was no surprise, but perhaps the pickups of gritty 3rd and 4th line players Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn were.

With the lack of real high impact scorers out there, Bergevin picked up character performers who could play a central role in the team’s push this playoff season. And Bergevin didn’t give up anyone from his current lineup. Unfortunately Mitchell left last night’s game against the Islanders with some sort of upper arm injury (Habs won 3-1) but most agree Montreal was a winner at the deadline — a verdict which will only be resolved come playoff-time.

Something else that came up was Head Coach Michel Therrien. It’s pretty well known there are a lot of naysayers out there about his coaching abilities, and they were out in full force after the recent trade of Jiri Sekac. The usual knock on Therrien is that he’s bad with young talent. Many said he mishandled P.K. Subban — meanwhile, Subban won the Norris Trophy in 2013 and is now considered one of the league’s elite defensemen. This is the same man who worked with a young Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and yes, he lost the room before that same Penguins team won the Stanley Cup in 2009 but he still nevertheless played a prominent role in the development of that cup winner.

Admittedly if you are a regular to HFILL you’ll know that he wasn’t my first choice — and no matter how well the team is going, wouldn’t it be amazing to see Mike Babcock behind Montreal’s bench — but in the end, one can’t argue with results.

John Tavares and Carey Price are both favoured to be Hart trophy finalists this year.

John Tavares and Carey Price are both favoured to be Hart trophy finalists this year.

Am I saying I’m a steadfast supporter of Michel Therrien. No, I wouldn’t go that far. But results are results. So is Therrien therrific or therrible?

You could say that with the Canadiens’ lineup, they’d be a good team regardless of who was at the helm. But in the end, it is Therrien’s team, he’s Bergevin’s hand picked man, and ultimately the team has gotten better year after year under his watch.

In the strike-shortened 2012-2013 season, the Habs surprised pundits by making the playoffs and finishing first in the Northeast and second in the conference, only to be sent packing by the Ottawa Senators in the first round. Last year, with all the hype around the conference changes and with the Red Wings moving into their division, the Habs posted 100 points finishing 4th in the conference, but took the all-important next steps in the playoffs winning two playoff series to only see their dreams shattered in a six game loss to the New York Rangers.

This year? They’re on pace for a +100 point season and are challenging for not only the Eastern Conference championship but the Presidents’ Trophy as well. But let’s be honest. With Carey Price’s amazing Vezina/Hart style season, teamed with last year’s disappointing playoff loss, we’ll all be upset if the Habs in the least don’t make it to the cup finals.

Let’s just hope the Habs don’t face the Ottawa Senators in the first round.

Habs Fan in Leafland lives on twitter: @habsfanleafland

 

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