Thursday, May 31, 2012

Habs Coaching Search: Hartley, and Crawford, and Therrien, oh my!

Today the latest Habs coaching rumour was shot down when Bob Hartley was hired by the Calgary Flames. While some are lamenting the Habs' loss of "the best candidate available", I think if Montreal had wanted to hire Hartley, they would have.

He simply would not have slipped through their fingers.

Listening to TSN 990 this morning, it seems that the Canadiens have followed the same hiring process for their coach as they did with their GM.

That is, they made a huge list, cut it back to a handful, did initial interviews, made the group smaller still, and are now poised to make a decision.

Making the cut

The rumoured list of finalists is/was Bob Hartley, Patrick Roy, Michel Therrien, and Marc Crawford. Give that Hartley is now with the Flames, he is clearly off the list.

Next up is Roy, whose fiery temperament and lack of NHL experience make him a pretty risky hire. Also, it is rumoured that Roy has been making some demands that perhaps make him even less attractive to new GM Marc Bervegin.

But, to me, the bottom line is that you have you think Bergevin doesn't need for his coaching hire to become a potential problem. And going down the Roy path could do exactly that.

So, eliminating Roy from the equation leaves Therrien and Crawford as the last two men standing.

Just say no

To me, if these are the two choices left, then Crawford should be the hands-down selection. Why? Well, he's got the experience, pedigree and demeanor to last in Montreal.

Calm in the face of the media, fiery behind the bench, and able to adapt on the fly, Crawford would be a great fit for the Habs.

Moreover, he speaks French, so you can tick that qualification off the list too. Also, he is supposedly taking a French intensive course right now, so read into that what you will.

As for Therrien, well, I wouldn't go near him with a ten-foot pole. It's not that he's not a good coach, but he is a gruff, bully of a leader. As such, he's the type of old-school guy who tends to wear out his welcome pretty quickly.

The end result is that the team stops listening and he gets fired.

Just ask the Pens, who went on to win the Cup the same year Therrien was fired—under Dan Bylsma. No, the new breed of coach has to be able to speak to his players without berating them all. And Therrien is not that man.

Sure he knows the market and that is experience that you can't easily overlook. And that, to me, is why he's still in the running. But hiring Therrien would mean that is two to three years, the Habs would once again be on the hunt for a new coach.

And after almost two decades of a carousel in the coaching and GM fronts, that is certainly a problem they would do well to avoid.

So what do you think? Who would you chose as the Habs head coach?

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of, and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Kamal is also a regular on-air contributor on TSN 990, CJAD, and LiveSport New Zealand.

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(Photo Victor Decolongon/Getty Images North America)


Man I hope you are wrong!! Crawford was a bust in Quebec/Colorado. Sure he won a cup, but with the lineup he had, Homer Simpson could have won that cup. He was a bust in Vancouver and a bust in LA. We need someone who can teach and direct a group of young players and mix in some veterans. Crawford can't do that. If he is hired that would be a huge mistake.

Carbonneau as coach, with Larry Robinson assisting the yound D's like Subban...

@Anon 1: Well, I think you're taking a little bit away from Crawford, as no team wins the Cup without a good and competent coach...but I see what you're saying.

Who would be your choice?

@Anon 2: You see, I LOVE the Robinson as assistant, idea, no matter who ends up being the head coach. With the young up and coming defenseman (Beaulieu, Tinordi, and even Subban) on the team and in the pipe, there is no better man for them to learn from.

As for Carbo, he brings a lot of good things to the table but I just am not a fan of reaching back into the past. Also, Carbo hasn't coached much since he was fired from Montreal, which means he doesn't have much hands-on experience that he could draw on to do things differently.

Also, the word is that his experience coaching the Juniors wasn't the best and that he wasn't that great at it.

So, all things being equal, I'd pass...but that's just me.

No sense saying who i want, cause McTavish/Renney/Gallant/Lever cant speak french, well one of these guys or Guy CHarron.

Hi Kamal and thank's for the update on the coach issue.

If available, Lemaire would be my first pick. He had success with the Devils as coach, is capable to sell his system to most players and was once part of Montreal organization.

Unfortunately, no clear intention to step out of retirement. Crawford was a good coach in Quebec and Colorado, but he was given a team that had three times in a row the first draft pick (Sundin, Nolan & Lindros traded for Forsberg+). Plus Sakic and later Roy through trade. So although a good coach the roster was a superior one. Nevertheless, he demonstrated he was able to coach young players as well as veterans. Does it rings a bell anyone ? Think Subban, Pacioretty, Desharnais and hopefully Gallager and Tinordi. Plus he meets the language criteria. So my vote goes to him in the officially available candidates.

Therrien has a reputation to be very picky, and has NHL, AHL and LHJMQ experience as a coach. He would be a perfect fit to teach hockey to young players. Would he accept the job as Bulldogs head coach ? After all, he did just that with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (Penguins AHL team) before to become Penguin's coach. And also, if it doesn't work as expected with Crawford, you have secured a replacement.

Food for thaughts!


@Sylvain: There is no question that Jacques Lemaire is an exceptional coach. The problem is that I think he is too much of a defensive-style coach. And, after Jacques Martin, I'm not sure Habs management wants to go to another defensive-first coach.

Also, I don't think Lemaire has any interest in coming to Montreal, so I doubt it would happen...but you never know!

Crawford has made a living out of coaching young players (starting in AHL for the Nordiques/Avalanche affiliate)and set up Vancouver and LA nicely for his successors as those teams were more in need of change of management than coaches and each new management brings new coaches.. So we need to give credit where credit is due and out of the short list that is publicised to us, he is our man.. My sleeper pick is Pascal Vincent as he would fit in quite nicely with current management and always has been completely respected by his players.. He has been ready for some time now but wanted to see things through with Atlanta/Winnipeg..

The days of hiring retreaded coaches who the rest of the league has had the opportunity to hire for multiple years is over!

One needs to ask if any of Therrien, Crawford, Carbonneau were so qualified (other than French ability) why haven't they been snapped up by the rest of the league looking for any advantage in the new NHL?

Maybe its just because these folks are just not that good as coaches and should continue in their present roles as media talking heads and leave NHL coaching to those who have proven success, recently not just within a decade!

Crawford has a solid coaching career and perhaps you should look at the facts.. ie cup and youngest Jack Adams winner.. The style of coaching he brings is a fast paced open offensive style that would light up the Molson Centre (like that needs any help but I digress)...

OMG!!! I've been reading Kamal for quite some years now. I'm appalled with his opinion of Crawford. Two year stint in LA with no playoffs. Two year stint in DAL with no playoffs. Add to that his last season in VAN where he missed the playoffs, and you got a coach who has not make the playoffs during the cap-era (since 2005).

As for Therrien, I can only see him coming in because of his supposedly connection with newly appointed GM Marc Bergevin. Should Therrien become the Habs' coach, I can only see him having some decent success if GM Bergevin and assist.-GM Rick Dudley are capable of tweaking this current roster/line-up by adding more talent and increase the size of their players. Otherwise...

One must wonder what's with Patrick Roy. Truly, this man's ego is ENORMOUS! If it's the truth that Roy was still in the race for the Habs' coaching position, then by pulling himself out of the race, this is no different than what he did in 2002 when he wasn't put on the guaranteed selected roster of seven players for the Salt Lake City Olympic Games. Ego...

Finally, there has to be a bilingual coach who'd be coming in like a breath of fresh air. A bit like Kevin Dineen did in Florida. The names of current WPG assist.-coach Pascal Vincent and OHL's Sarnia head-coach Jacques Beaulieu come to mind right away. But then again, why would a rookie GM hire a rookie coach and possibly set himself up for failure...

My take is: no matter who'll be named coach of the Canadiens, management MUST do considerable changes in order for this team to contend for the cup. Fighting for a playoff spot isn't enough in a market like Montreal. It's time for this once powerful organization to redeem itself and fight for a chance to win back their 25th Stanley Cup, the Holy Grail of hockey.

If he's so good why isn't he working in the parity NHL? Lots of positions have been open. Must be a reason!

And what have his teams done since 2006: missed playoffs each year!

With his legal issue with Moore : unemployable!

Fuck You all Patrick Roy would Have been the better choice, I'm the One Who !!! Put a Powerfull Curse on
The Montreal Canadiens (PETER James PATRY)Yes Curse
The Habs for this Action.

Everyone needs a chance You talk about Fucken Ego,I
Think everyone has Huge Ego there, What about(Messier
Gretzly Hasik Brodeur.

For what the Canadiens did tha could all drop dead, The
Curse goes on, I hope that Team burns in HELL,There all
Fucken loosers, Stars You mean that Chocolate Person is
Not A Star Suban he's nothing but a drane on Payroll

Just nothing but Loosers, the Curse will not End
Cause I say so, not till ROY gets his chance.

until, fans have nothing to say, why did Savard call
Roy for Payback,Curse him Too and his Health.tha could
All burn in HELL,And all the Reffs are all loosers Too.

Peter James Patry

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