I can't remember the last time I truly felt impassioned enough to actually rant about anything the Montreal Canadiens have offered up this past season, and that includes the firing of Head Coach Jacques Martin — whose system I disliked and maligned for the entirety of his tenure — and the badly done trading of six million dollar sniper Michael Cammalleri.
Still, a few things have gone on so I'm back to offer up a few more thoughts now that Michel Therrien has been named the new bench boss.
With the Habs coming off a dead last finish in the East, Therrien can't do much to make things worse. At least he will manage to look something other than constipated, and he has a better track record than his predecessor.
I don't believe for a second that Marc Bergevin made an easy choice in Therrien. His new coach may be media savvy and a French speaking homeboy, but given his last stint behind the bench in Montreal he's also hugely unpopular with a lot of the fanbase. Bergevin is by all accounts highly capable and hockey smart, and obviously sees some growth in Therrien that, as a fan, I can not yet perceive.
The contract is only three years instead of four or five. It's a minor thing but since Montreal coaches have an average shelf life of two seasons I like the shorter deal. If Therrien succeeds it'll be easy enough to keep him, and if he doesn't owner Geoff Molson shouldn't be reluctant to keep him on a short leash. As it stands he's still paying Jacques Martin.
Now that the head coach has been named, Bergevin can concentrate on other important matters, like his pending UFAs and RFAs. Both Carey Price and P.K. Subban need to be locked up, and then there's the upcoming entry draft.
Therrien may have stated that some of his new team had work ethic issues this past season and implied some laziness, but that's hardly news to anyone who actually watched them play either. I'm not sure it's a great way to start bonding with your players, but at the same time it's also pretty accurate and I've always preferred people who call a spade a spade to the smooth talkers.
He's not Patrick Roy. I'd have tried my damndest to give Roy a fair shake, but frankly I think he's a lot like gasoline on a lit fire and have pretty much held that opinion since he first started in nets for the Habs, his head got all Grinched and grew three sizes too big, and his two Cup rings got stuck in his ears.
Having watched Therrien get run out of town on a rail the last time he tried to guide this team, I'm not anywhere near convinced he's changed enough, no matter what sweet talk he spouts in the press. He could be the best strategist in the NHL, but if he can't improve on effort, team work and player communication, nothing's going to change anytime soon.
My trust in Bergevin aside, I dislike his whole "just get into the playoffs and anything can happen" mantra which got paraded around as the ideal again during Therrien's press conference. Just getting into the playoffs is not a winning attitude and just another part of the problem causing the team's mediocrity. As a fan I'd like to stop hearing this bandied about as if it were some sort of great accomplishment, but the Los Angeles Kings really aren't helping here.
I like Bergevin and again I'm trying to have faith, but I'm a bit disappointed in his inability to think outside the box. He interviewed ten candidates and believes Therrien is the best one, but with the Habs brass and ownership trying hard to sell me on the whole idea of change, my initial reaction is similar to the one I had with Jacques Martin's hiring: safety net instead of truly taking a bold chance.
And, no, I had no favorites amongst the candidates.
Therrien stating that Tomas Plekanec "will bounce back" is hardly an accurate assessment of what plagued the Habs centerman last season. Plekanec has been the Habs go-to guy for far too long, and it's only natural that carrying more than one's fair share of dead weight would cause eventual fatigue. There's nothing wrong with Plekanec that a couple of decent and non-revolving wingers couldn't fix.
I dislike my total inability to trust the Habs brass or take a leap of faith that things will change. I'm now past the "fool me once, fool me twice" stage and well into the "are you talking to me" stage of our relationship.
Talk is cheap and no one sells it at a higher premium than the Montreal Canadiens.
I don't see why Marc Bergevin can't wear his toga to at least one of these pressers. And why is Youppi still orange instead of bleu, blanc et rouge? It's not like dye is expensive.
Rosalyn used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.
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(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)