Who’s in the Dog House Now, Michel?


By Rick Stephens, All Habs Hockey Magazine

MONTREAL, QC. — Who’s in the dog house now? Lars Eller? Tomas Kaberle?

Well, according to Habs fans, it would be Michel “the Grinch” Therrien who is axing the fun from their favorite team. The Canadiens head coach was non-committal about whether newly-signed P.K. Subban would be in the lineup when the Habs met the Sabres on Saturday afternoon. But Therrien was 100 per cent about one thing: the celebration by Subban and Carey Price at the end of home wins was a thing of the past.

triple low fiveThe “triple-low-five” has been banned.

When asked to explain his rationale, the coach said “I like my teams to be humble.” A lesson in humility? Did he learn that from RDS seatmate Michel Bergeron, Tony Marinaro or P.J. Stock?

Therrien continued, “We have to respect the community, we have to respect the other team and we have to respect the fans.”

I’m not sure which community the gesture offended in the past and the opposition is in the dressing room by the time Price and Subban slap gloves. As for the fans, it seemed to me that they enjoyed it more than the participants as time went on.

So what is this really about? I get that Therrien and Mark Bergevin are trying to establish organizational standards but from their reaction, this declaration strikes most fans as petty.

Has Erik Cole been warned not to even think about high-fiving a ref this season?

The coaching staff should develop character of their players, instill values and work with team leadership to set rules. But they would be wise to refrain from legislating the minutiae. New coaches usually enjoy a honeymoon, but this could go south quickly if he’s deemed to be a control freak.

This may be nothing more than a clash of the egos. And if there is anyone who has a bigger ego on the team than P.K. Subban, it’s Michel Therrien. Subban would be wise to steer clear of this competition with the celebrity coach.

It was a curious move on Therrien’s part to announce the new rule just prior to Subban’s return. It didn’t help that the coach used the fans as cover insisting that he players will raise their sticks to the Bell Centre crowd at the end of each home win.

“The way we decided to celebrate this year is to salute the fans because they deserve it,” said Therrien.

The center ice salute is contrived, disingenuous and rather generic in hockey these days. By contrast, the Montreal faithful enjoyed the Subban-Price celebration, and it was certainly unique. In fact, it was one of the few things that fans had to look forward to in 2011-12 — it happened just 13 times last year.

In the end, discontinuing the triple-low-five isn’t the issue. Management is entitled to establish rules as they please but the way Therrien went about this revealed a bit of rust. The coach hasn’t been behind a bench in four years and it showed.

People generally don’t appreciate being told what they like. Unlike in 2009, disgruntled fans can answer back with a united voice, aka hashtag. It didn’t take long for #FreeTheTripleLow5 to spring up on Twitter.

Players will adapt to new rules. Fans will come to look forward to being saluted.. okay, maybe not. But let’s hope that Therrien, Bergevin and co. realize how silly it was to expend some of their first-year goodwill to clamp down on a non issue.



  1. Once again Montreal media and fans focus on the trivial. I’ve been a fan for almost 40 yrs, and THIS JUST DOESN’T MATTER

  2. Announcing it was the problem. Should have just kept it internally. And explaining further the reasoning to banning it was also unnecessary because now HE comes across as a controlling jerk who may still be very connected to his L’antichump friends ie. pretty sure Carbo said he would “do away with it” last week and now voila, it’s gone. Is this also why Eller is being given no chances? Or why PK is paired with Cube instead of Gorges? Can of worms: opened.

    Should have just taken a page from Gionta’s “no comment, no confirm, no deny” book.

  3. A coach shouldn’t focus on minutae, and Therrien did here. Hope this isn’t a sign of him being overly focused on trying to rein in Subban’s personality. You don’t get the player without the personality.

  4. if i was on the losing team and i saw the triple low five(so lame) i would make a point of hammering that team next game. its just unneccesary showboating. ole ole ole is a soccer chant. loser habs fans.

    • I don,t know who your favourite team is but calling habs fans losers is generalizing to accommodate your malice towards one of the great franchises in sport never mind hockey.

  5. I think therrian and bergvin r doing a great job trying to restore the pride in the players that the fans have for the team. last year was a bad year, the team did not play with pride of a great hockey team, 100 year specials ….it’s a new year a lot has changed a lot had to change

  6. The idea was to promote team unity. Have the entire team do it. The fans like it, so what is the problem? Therrien missed the boat on this one, and mistakenly focused on PK not doing things the right way.

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