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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Panesar and Moustakas: Michel Therrien Named Habs Coach

Michel Therrien - Montreal Canadiens Introduce Michel Therrien As New Head Coach
Kamal Panesar: Well if you haven’t heard by now, the Montreal Canadiens have appointed Michel Therrien as their new head coach, replacing interim coach, Randy Cunneyworth.

I don’t know about you, Louis, but I don’t love this move.

I actually wrote a piece over the last week or so, outlining why I was not a fan of bringing in Therrien. Basically, he is the type of coach who can be rough and gruff. The result is that he tends to wear thin in a couple of years, losing the room and ultimately being shown the door.

I really feel the Habs need some stability rather than a continuous carrousel. And while Therrien’s past performances don’t guarantee he’ll get the boot in two or three years, he has done nothing since leaving the Habs last time, to show that he has changed.

For more on that, see Penguins, Pittsburgh.

Louis Moustakas: Kamal, I understand your reservations here. Michel Therrien's emotional, gruff style can, at times, be detrimental. Truth be told, the unsportsmanlike penalty he took in the 2002 Playoffs against Carolina is still a sore spot for me. At the end of the day, coaches, regardless of their style, always seem to come with an expiration date.

But, to my mind, Therrien has grown and improved much since his early NHL days. He ate some humble pie, riding the buses in the AHL again and then getting a chance with the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he did reasonably well. He led Pittsburgh to consecutive 100-point seasons and helped them reach the final in 2008.

He still can be rough around the edges, but his passion and knowledge of the Montreal market can prove to be tremendous benefits. After a series of relatively quiet men behind the bench, it will be a welcome change to have someone like Therrien behind the bench.

Between him and Marc Bergevin, there should not be any lack of dialogue between the team's staff and media.

That is something not to be overlooked. When the coaching staff and management are less than forthcoming, the players are often asked to fill in the blanks. Montreal provides enough of a fishbowl environment already and having some of that attention deflected away from them could be very beneficial.

After all, it's a lot easier as a player if the spotlight is focused on your coach's most recent press conference as opposed to your latest scoring drought.

Kamal Panesar: To be honest, despite Therrien’s reputation, the best thing he has going for him is time. In that it has passed since he was last in Montreal. Not only has Therrien gained AHL and NHL experience since his first stint with the Habs, but he is more than a decade older. I know I’ve learned a lot and changed a bunch in the last ten year, so I’m pretty sure he has too.

The Therrien hiring is not the worst thing imaginable, as some people are making it out to be. He is a competent, if defensively oriented, coach. He has a ton of experience and, having been through the cycle in Montreal, likely knows what not to do this time around.

Do you think if there was a replay of the 2002 playoffs, that Therrien would blow a gasket again, putting his team in penalty trouble? I highly doubt it.

I don’t know about you, but I have always learned the most in life in situations where I make mistakes. What is there to learn when everything goes right?

That said, this hiring brings up two very important points. One, is that Therrien, Marc Crawford, Bob Hartley, Patrick Roy…this isn’t exactly the cream of the coaching crop. GM Marc Bergevin was clearly fishing in a shallow pool. Partly because of the requirement that his coach speak French, but also because there really aren’t many great coaches available right now.

But the big question, for me, is whether or not Therrien is a place holder. Was he hired, knowing the he’s likely expire in two to three years, paving the way for Bergevin’s first choice, Joel Quenneville, to take the reigns?

Conspiracy theorists will likely jump all over that one!

Louis Moustakas: That we can agree on. There is no learning or growth without failures or mistakes. Therrien, like the rest of us, has had a few of both. Hopefully, his experience will allow him to thrive in Montreal.

As for being a place holder, I certainly hope not. I think it would reflect poorly on Bergevin to engage in such a thought process. He needs to have a win-now mentality and not focus on trying to predict the coaching market years down the line.

Nevertheless, it is hard to disagree on the fact that the coaching pool is a shallow one. Of the names you mention above, all came with serious caveats. For my money, Guy Carbonneau and Michel Therrien were my preferred candidates. The fact that two former coaches of the team were leading candidates is a testament to this very lack of depth. Still, I remain satisfied with this choice. I admire how Therrien has rebounded from his firings and has dipped his toe in various aspects of hockey operations, including scouting and media. I expect good things from him on his second tour of duty.

If you were given the GM hat, which choice would you have made?

Kamal Panesar: Man, that’s a tough question and, to be honest, I didn’t love any of the candidate names being bandied around. Of the names that I heard, however, I would have gone with Crawford over Therrien. But even then, I didn’t feel he was some kind of outstanding candidate.

One the Carbonneau note, since you mentioned him, I wouldn’t rule out him coming on board as Therrien’s assistant. He already held that position once and, for a guy who wants to get back into the coaching arena, Carbo might jump at that chance.

Unfortunately, I think the Therrien hiring kills any possibility of Larry Robinson coming on board as an assistant. And he would be the ideal man to run the D on this team, at least from where I sit.

Ultimately, I don’t hate the Therrien hiring, but I also don’t love it. I would have preferred the Habs go in a new direction and bring a new face with new ideas to the table…hence my Crawford pick. That being said, I am fully giving the Therrien redux the full benefit of the doubt. And while this move feels, to me, like Bergevin’s first misstep, I’m willing to let it play out before passing judgement. In other words, Therrien wasn’t my choice for coach, but now that he has the job I’m not going to sit there, arms cross, shoulder slumped with a frown on my face, waiting for him to screw up.

He has the benefit of the doubt and the onus is now on him to prove that he has changed. If he hasn't, then we’ll be having “new coach” discussions again in a few short seasons.

What are your thoughts on the Therrien hiring? Are you satisfied or would you have hired someone else?

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

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter

Louis is an Associate Editor and Senior Writer at HabsAddict.com. Born in Chicago, Louis grew up in Quebec City where he earned Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Université Laval. He is also an occasional guest on CKCU's Red Zone program.

Find him on Twitter @LouisMoustakas

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

4 comments:

Something more off the wall like a Ted Nolan,but its Therrien I'll give him a chance,but a short leash.

Oh well it is done, he is the coach.
Jacques Martin the II it seems, best of a bad bunch/shallow pool.
Not happy at all and have a long list of non-bilingual coachs who seem to be head and shoulders above this clown.

@Paul: Nolan might be a decent option, but he is black balled in the NHL...not sure exactly why, but I don't see him ever getting a coaching job in the league again...

Not unless he decides to go coach in the AHL first...and he has NO interest in doing that!

@Anon: You're right that the pool was really shallow...and that is a sad fact for the Habs. But, bilingual candidates aside, who is out that who is a great coach and is available?

I think the pool was shallow not just because of the language requirements, but also because there just really aren't many interesting candidates right now who are not employed.

Who would you have liked to see take the coaching reigns?

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