Michel Therrien often is unfairly criticized for his handling of individual players and unappreciated the Montreal Canadiens success since 2012. There are some fans and media alike that have hostile views and opinions. General managers Marc Bergevin‘s vote of confidence may just be the right choice.
Vote of Confidence for Therrien: The Right Choice
First, there are many ways to determine whether Therrien is the right man behind the bench. Somethings are well within his capabilities to control and others, well, are simply unrealistic.
So, take a second to consider the regular season numbers posted in the four seasons with him at the helm.
Regular Season Success
After 294 games, Therriens’ winning percentage is a season average of .609. This is nothing to downplay or balk at, including last seasons’ 2015-2016 record of 38-38-6, or a .500 mark. A plethora of man games lost to key contributors Carey Price, P.K. Subban, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan Beaulieu, Jeff Petry and Tom Gilbert led to a wrench in the spokes.
If a team has this many injuries, the losses start piling up, no matter how good the team is. Still, it’s no secret that there are fans that were, and may very well still be upset, with how the season played out.
Cooler heads will prevail.
Last season did not end anywhere near where many thought it would, but it’s in the past. Despite missing the playoffs, this is a very competitive team. Of course, postseason success usually ends up being the tipping scale to a coaches’ vote of confidence or firing. So take a look at the past two postseasons.
The 2013-2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs saw the red, white and blue play their second Eastern Conference Final in five years. After sweeping the fast rising Tampa Bay Lightning, it was becoming apparent that there were reasons to believe it could be a fruitful postseason. After a long and gruelling seven-game series victory over the rivalled Boston Bruins, things were getting very serious.
Enter Chris Kreider and the New York Rangers.
Kreider, a power forward with tremendous foot speed and strength, slid feet first into a potential MVP candidate, Carey Price. With Price shelved, it would end up being too much to overcome. The series ended up going the Rangers way in a 4-2 win. It is hard to put the blame on Therrien for the way the series ended, especially after a tight 1-0 game six loss at Madison Square Garden.
The first round of the 2014-2015 playoffs featured an entertaining 2013 rematch with the Ottawa Senators. Two years earlier it was the Senators who were victorious, but the Habs were the much better team by winning the series in six games.
The win set up a rematch with the Tampa Bay Lighting. Because of the speed and scoring prowess of the Lighting, the Canadiens would end up bowing out. Tampa Bay would go on to lose to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. Only the Hawks were able to slow down the highest-scoring team from the regular season. It would be silly to suggest that another man behind the bench could have changed the outcome of the series that only a powerhouse was able to do.
Out in the Open
Now, bring out the purple elephant.
Therrien received an onslaught of fire from just about every angle about his handling of now-traded, Subban. It’s well known that the two didn’t always see eye-to-eye. It was continuously brought up that there were issues on and off the ice, and it seemed clear that an exit was on the way.
So, Bergevin sent the skilled defender to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Weber’s a no-nonsense type of player with the hardest shot in the game. His strength is also something unmatched by Subban.
In the dying minutes of a game in mid-February, the Avalanche forced Subban into a mistake that led to Jarome Iginla scoring the 3-1 goal. Here are the coaches comments afterward, “We played hard, played a solid game; too bad an individual mistake cost us the game late in the game,”. He concluded his post-game remarks, as recorded by ESPN Staff, saying, “As a coach, I thought he could have had a better decision at the blue line… and he put himself in a tough position.”
Along with the style of play, there have been numerous stories about issues inside the dressing room. Teammates are brothers. It is becoming more and more apparent that Subban’s relationship with his teammates was not as rosy as once thought.
Unhealthy Battle for Captaincy
Prior to the season, the Canadiens chose Max Pacioretty as team captain. Jimmy Murphy, former host of “Murphy’s Hockey Law Show”, was told by a number of sources that Subban would never become captain. He was told that Pacioretty was quoted as saying, “PK thinks he’s bigger than us.” Again, if a team is a band of brothers then one wouldn’t be hearing things like this.
Radio personality, Tony Marinaro has always been a big supporter of Subban. When the Canadiens were having their in house vote on who would become captain, Marinaro played a funny “Why not P.K.?” parody of the song “YMCA” by the Village People.
He firmly believed that it made sense to see him become the next leader. Ultimately, the dressing room chose Pacioretty. Media members asked how close the vote was on the day of the announcement and Bergevin replied by saying, “Let’s just say we didn’t have to count twice.” To shed light on this, you can listen to Tony’s morning show on the morning of June 30th here.
Setting the Record Straight
This is not an attack against Subban. This is a player who can skate like few others and provide an electric atmosphere. Unfortunately, the game he plays is just not right for Montreal. It doesn’t help when he constantly promotes his own branding and shows that he believes he’s bigger than the team. It’s a big reason why many in the media believe letting Subban go was the right move.
The most important player on the Canadiens is Price. Recently, he had an interesting view that sheds light on the trade then sent Subban to Nashville. Price told Elliotte Friedman,
“The way our game is structured and the way PK plays… we’re headed in a different direction… I respect the way he plays the game… his type of enthusiasm and his ability to raise fans out of their seats. That’s a special gift… But the way we’re coached on our team, the way our team is structured, that’s not what we’re looking for.”
Chance to Finish What Therrien Started
Therrien faced a lot of critics who try to point blame his way. He’s handled the dressing room and the bigger than-life-personality of Subban with grace.
He’ll see some new faces that will provide an immediate spark this season, and they will get every chance to play significant minutes. There’s no doubt that he deserves at least another season to right the ship. It just makes sense. Therrien deserves the shot to make good this season because the numbers are there to support it.
In the end, a vote of confidence will prove to be the right choice.