Montreal Canadiens fans were blessed with team news the day following the Kings conquer of the Stanley Cup. This is a good sight as it means Marc Bergevin has not taken a break and was working on his team throughout the playoffs. The news itself, however, was controversial to most.
What Habs fans want to hear is an eight year contract extension for P.K. Subban but instead they were given 2009 first round pick Louis Leblanc was traded to Anaheim for practically nothing and head coach Michel Therrien, who is frustrating to watch at times, was extended for four years.
Neither of these moves come as a big surprise but here is my quick take on both:
I have to believe that the Leblanc trade is mutual from both parties. To trade a first round pick for a possible 5th round pick or nothing means that the player is horrible and the GM had to get rid of him, or the player really wanted out and the GM gave him his wish as quickly as possible. Bergevin is a GM who doesn’t like giving up on his assets and has shown to try to build Hamilton with pickups like Stefan Fournier so I’d have to assume that there was an effort to try and resign Louis. One has to speculate the contract would be no more than a new 20-year-old would receive and that could have frustrated Leblanc.
Leblanc not receiving a contract that seemed like his first full year with the Habs was on the horizon but one closer to another season with the Bulldogs misusing him was probably the nail in the coffin for him. The Habs have great organizational depth and an above-average roster at the NHL level so Leblanc struggled to make the team and not be passed by the up-coming players. Players like Brendan Gallagher, Michael Bourninval and Alex Galchenyuk found themselves more valuable to the big team then Leblanc who has been there longer.
The future will hold more of the same with prospects Jacob de la Rose, Artturi Lehkonen, Martin Reway and Charles Hudon who all seem to have a better chance at the club than Leblanc.
Leblanc’s inevitable departure from the organization started after he was cut early on in pre-season and girlfriend Aleksandra Wozniak tweeted, “He did everything the CH organisation told him to do and what…got cut this early?!,” and (“A real joke with the worst excuse for cutting someone. Really not a ‘fair shot!’ Too much manipulation!”) showing Leblanc’s frustration through his girlfriend. Louis then had an up and down early season with Hamilton eventually staying down as he finished with just 28 points in 70 games.
It is time we Habs fans wish Louis well in Anaheim and hope that he has a successful career elsewhere.
Michel Therrien was extended four years despite Habs fans, including myself, calling for his head a lot of times this season. Therrien likes to deploy a fast and mobile Habs team as a dump and grind team and that really gets under the skin of viewers. He also has strange ways of dealing with his players and has seemingly stunted the growth of team superstar P.K. Subban. Despite all of that, though, Therrien deserves his extension.
In the last two seasons Michel has brought this team to fourth in league standings last year, and into the conference finals this year. He handled roster situations like David Desharnais’ struggle well and although he makes some mind-blowing decisions he has led this team to good success.
Here are the teams with the most wins in the last two seasons:
1) PIT 87
2) ANA 84
3) BOS 82
3) CHI 82
5) STL 81
6) SJ 76
7) MTL 75
8) LA 73
9) NYR 71
10) MIN 69
Therrien has led this team to just as many wins as league power-house San Jose, more than reigning cup champs LA and only 7 less than last years cup champions Chicago even with the Hawks starting last season 21-0-3.
All in all there is no better coach on the market to coach the Canadiens right now and Therrien has done nothing to deserve getting the boot. He understands his roster and it is up to him to change the style that best fits the team he has.
A four-year contract extension doesn’t always means he will coach for four years, but for now he is as safe as he should be.
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