Ladies and gentleman, dreams do come true! So after 5 years, the Michel Therrien era is finally over in Montreal. I’m not going to hide it, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Michel Therrien. It was nothing against him, I just found the style the Canadiens played under Therrien was far too defensive minded and a bore at times. As a fan, it was very difficult to watch the Habs play, knowing that they would get out shot, try to grind a win and rely on Carey Price every game. That said, you must give credit where credit is due, as Therrien did coached the Canadiens to 3 straight playoffs, which included reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2014, before things turned sour last season.
I won’t get into all these rumours of Therrien losing the team or his rumoured feud with Andrew Shaw, as I have no factual evidence. But there was no doubt the Canadiens have been trending in the wrong direction since their 13-1-1 start to the season. Matter of fact, since their 13-1-1 start, the Canadiens are 18-18-7 in their last 43 games. The firing of Therrien comes as the Habs have lost 6 of their last 7, including being shutout against the last place Colorado Avalanche. For the second straight season, the Habs have managed to erased their hot start to the season and positioned themselves from a lock to make the playoffs (99.7% as of January 18, 2017) to only 4 points ahead of 8th place Boston.
With the hiring of Claude Julien, the Habs unquestionably hired the best coach available regardless of language, which should always be the case in any circumstances. Now I’m not going to get into a language debate as I understand the importance of the French culture but the priority should always be to get the best individual available for the job, be it a player, general manager or head coach. Don’t get too excited though, one thing Habs fans one thing must realize is that in terms of X’s and O’s there is not that much difference between Therrien and Julien in terms of on ice play. Both coaches are very structured oriented, firmly believes in defensive hockey and try to embed a puck possession game. It’s not like the Habs went out and hired a full out offensive minded coach like Bruce Boudreau. What differs though is their personality, where Therrien was a hard nosed coach and Julien is more of a player’s coach.
This marks the second time Julien is coaching behind the Canadiens’ bench, coincidentally he is replacing Therrien for the second time. The last time Therrien was fired was back in 2009 when Penguins’ GM Ray Shero gave Therrien his pink slip and replaced him with Dan Bylsma. Care to remind Habs fans that, that spring Bylsma led the Penguins to the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings. One can only hope that lightning strikes twice and Habs fans will have a cup to celebrate come June.
Was firing Michel Therrien the right thing to do for Marc Bergevin? Only time will tell, but with Therrien now out of the picture, if last season’s “it’s on me” press conference wasn’t enough, it is now definitely on Marc Bergevin to turn the stuttering Habs around. Now without his scapegoat, the coach that most Habs fans had wanted to see gone, if Bergevin fails to acquire help for Julien and the Canadiens, and if the Habs miraculously miss the playoffs for the second straight season, you bet Bergevin will be on the hot seat this off season.