For all of the rhetoric about going in a new direction and commitment to winning, I was pretty excited about the new look Montreal Canadiens. I like the Bergevin hire, I really liked the Dudley hire and I think Scott Mellanby is a good choice for the front office. It’s finally filled up with great hockey minds and not just former Canadiens players or cronies of the GM. But then, word comes out that the Canadiens were looking at either Hartley, Crawford or Therrien as head coach, and I was floored. I will conceded that the coaching pool was quite thin, and particularly so when we accept that a French speaking coach is a requirement in this city. But these 3? Hartley, a winner at every level to be sure, has not coached in the NHL since coaching Atlanta in 2007-2008, not to mention that he was entirely irritating on AntiChambre. Marc Crawford, also a Stanley Cup winner, last coached in 2010-2011, and has never particularly impressed me. Finally, Therrien’s last coaching gag was when he was fired mid-season and the Penguins went on to win the Cup that same year with Dan Bylsma at the helm.
So forgive my skepticism with the pool of candidates. To my surprise, the Canadiens went with Therrien. A rehash. If you recall, Therrien was the head coach of the Canadiens for 3 years, 2000-2003, and coached them to a 77-77-37. What’s another word for mediocre? Anyway, his playoff performances were not better, missing the playoffs in his first season, making the 2nd round in his second season and being fired midway through his third season. The farthest he has taken a team was the Stanley Cup Final, but keep in mind his players included Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang.
The mood after the hiring was largely negative. Most fans and pundits do not see this as a particularly good decision. For myself, I would have honestly preferred totally new blood. I know he doesn’t speak French, and is thus probably a pipe dream, but how about Dallas Eakins of the Marlies? Or even Patrick Roy? Larry Robinson? Anyone?
I guess time will tell if Therrien’s second passage with Nos Glorieux will fare better than the first time. Incidentally, he has chosen to relieve Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur of their services and hire his own assistants. Patrice Brisebois and Gerrard Gallant are rumoured to be on the verge of being hired to replace them.