Michel Therrien: Just Give Him a Chance

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by Kristina, Contributor, AllHabs.net

MONTREAL, QC — Apparently there are a lot of people in this town who don’t like second chances. You didn’t even need to take a poll to gauge the reaction as the news of the rehiring of Michel Therrien as the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens broke early on June 5, 2012. It was clear as mud that Marc Bergevin had succeeded in infuriating a large number of fans that were previously so overjoyed with his appointment as General Manager.

But why?

Perhaps because there was a sense that new blood was needed behind the Canadiens bench the way need blood was needed in the front office. Instead, the Canadiens organization hit the rewind button and rehired a coach who’s first stint as the bench boss was shown the door after leading the team to a 77-77-36 record and a 40.5 winning percentage.

Or maybe its because some believe the Canadiens organization made it a priority to hire a coach who can speak French and as a result, foregoing a true search to hire the best hockey coach available whomever he may have been.

Maybe some fans were just waiting for Bergevin to hire a coach out of the woodwork; a hidden gem that nobody knew much about.

There are probably many more reasons that can explain the general dissatisfaction with Bergevin’s hire but none of these arguments appear to be overly compelling as the next.

It is easy to quote Therrien’s coaching record, winning percentages with the Canadiens and the Penguins, and the fact that he did not win a Cup with arguably the best two hockey players in the world on his squad. But it is all in how it is presented — it is so easy to twist numbers and facts to support an argument.

Look:

Therrien coached the Canadiens to 87 points in first full year as head coach in 2001-2002 which was a 17-point improvement from 2000-2001 when Therrien only spent part of the season behind the bench. He also took the last place Penguins from 58 points in 2005-2006 to 105 points in 2006-2007 and 102 points in 2007-2008. Not to mention he was also only two wins away from winning the Stanley Cup against one of the most impressive playoff teams over the last 20 years in the Detroit Red Wings.

What’s the difference anyway? All those stats and facts are on Therrien’s resume, which I am sure Bergevin had a “quick” read of during the month long coaching search process. Any educated hockey fan knows that any new coaching hire isn’t based on statistics alone.

On the French “thing.” Unfortunately, if you have not realized that the French language is a reality for the Montreal Canadiens organization that cannot be ignored then you best start cheering for another team. Yes, Bergevin has to hire someone who can function in the French language and yes it is easy to say that it limits the pool of possible coaches that could be hired but that’s the reality for this organization, for this market and for this province. As much as I agree that this reality has the potential for crippling the Canadiens in the coaching role, I haven’t seen a plethora of Jack Adams worthy coaching candidates swimming freely in this pool of possible coaches that is so often referenced anyhow.

And as exciting as it may have been for some to see Patrick Roy behind the bench or a new rookie coach from out of the blue, it was clear from the start that Bergevin was not going to go down that road. As rookie GM himself, hiring a bench boss with some NHL credentials and experience was a clearly priority and a wise one at that.

Therrien was given a second chance by Marc Bergevin and his team because they believe Therrien deserved it. A little older, a little wiser, a little more experienced – whatever the reasons may be, Bergevin did not hire Therrien on a whim. Marc Crawford told friends that he has never been more thoroughly interviewed for a job than he was by the Canadiens. So is it so inconceivable that Bergevin jumped through all the hoops and performed all the required due diligence that’s needed when hiring a new head coach?

You would think you give the new GM the benefit of the doubt before jumping on the criticism bandwagon.

I’m not overwhelmed nor underwhelmed by the rehiring of Michel Therrien but I am more than willing to see how it plays out for the Canadiens when the puck drops before I start throwing Therrien and Bergevin under an 18-wheeler.

You should give him a chance too.

Photograph: Reuters, Postmedia News

2 COMMENTS

  1. Hiring a coach like Therrien = saying goodbye to bidding for free agents. It doesn’t matter if we want to be nice or not to an ex coach, the players around the league will know they don’t want this guy as their boss and will avoid Montreal as a destination.

  2. Therrien has already been given a chance and he failed. Second chances are usually earned — except in Montreal.

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