Rabid Habs

The Forum: Is Michel Therrien Actually Doing a Good Job This Season?

Michel Therrien is going to the All-Star Game! This was, of course, met with some mockery online, but your Montreal Canadiens are playing well despite the dump truck’s worth of injuries they’ve had to deal with. So the question we asked our contributors this week is: Is Michel Therrien actually doing a good job this season?

 

Sean O’Neill (@TheONeillFactor) – Delete your account.

 

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – He still does some weird things that are infuriating, but what were the complaints over the last couple of years?

  • Crappy 5 on 5 team
  • Awful underlying numbers
  • No powerplay
  • Overly reliant on Price
  • Not enough ice time for Galchenyuk

There were a few other ones as well, but all of those major things are mostly rectified this year. Of course I answer this as I’m running out the door, so I don’t have the actual numbers to backup my claims, but when Galchenyuk went down, we thought the team would die. Instead they thrived, and so did their possession numbers. Price has been playing decent hockey since December, but he’s not even top-5 right now, and clearly hasn’t been himself of late. So if we’re still moaning about Therrien then I’d say that’s more of an “us” problem than a “him” problem.

Therrien is his own worst enemy, and is prone to reverting to his caveman coaching at any time. I think that’s why fans are so slow in warming up to him….if they ever will warm up to him ever again. We just don’t trust him. But for now he’s doing what we’d want his replacement to do so until he stops doing that, and getting results, let’s just enjoy the ride, and the harmony in the media.

 

Ian Boisvert (@Boisvertian) – I’ve been a critic of Michel Therrien since the Habs fell to the Senators in 2013. That being said, he is coaching some fantastic hockey. I would even venture as far as to say that he should be a Jack Adams nominee, in that he has a mediocre (injured) roster doing incredible things (that should also please the anti-Therrien crowd, as the Jack Adams seems to be cursed. Just ask Bob Hartley. Or Paul MacLean).

Seven regulars out of the lineup, and Montreal goes 4-1-2 on a seven game road trip. In that span, Therrien didn’t simply award positions in the top six to any given player. If Therrien put Plekanec in the top line centre roll when he was struggling, the team might be in a different spot right now. Therrien tried Mitchell there, and I believe Plekanec was in that spot for a short period of time, but the real answer was Phillip Danault. Therrien could have done what the narrative around him suggests and just filled that spot with one of his veterans, but he didn’t do that. Instead, Danault provided much needed stability at centre and may have eliminated Montreal’s need for a number two centre heading into the deadline. Players like Danault, McCarron, Scherbak and Lehkonen have been put in a position where they can succeed while helping the team. That kind of squashes the “Michel Therrien cannot develop young players” narrative, at least for the time being.

Is there a chance this is all Kirk Muller’s doing? I can accept that answer, but only if Muller then takes the fall when things go south. Attributing the team’s successes to Muller and the failures to Therrien is about as irrational as it gets, and I’m sure we all know someone who has done just that. I’ll quote myself in a conversation I had with Zach on Twitter and say “That’s the fun part about this: we have no way of knowing. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.”

And I wholeheartedly believe that. So let’s sit back, enjoy the run, and get ready to see a sweet tan and an even sweeter suit behind the Atlantic Division bench in Los Angeles.

 

Zach Vanasse (@ZachDropsTweets) – For me it’s obvious. The Montreal Canadiens’ success this season can be attributed to one man and one man only, and that man is a Man Mountain. Shea Weber is Dad to the team and when Dad came into the room everything changed. With a simple nod of his head and a look in his eye the Montreal Canadiens dressing room was suddenly ready to be molded into everything they could be.

Sprinkle in some Muller Magic (formerly known as Muller Mullet Magic) and it’s fair to wonder if Michel Therrien is involved in the coaching of this team at all.

Which is why Marc Bergevin is a damn genius, so I guess we’re up to three men to whom we can attribute the Habs success this season, but none of them are Michel Therrien.

So, Bergevin understands that the Montreal Canadiens must have a Francophone head coach. The problem for Marc Bergevin was, if he fired Therrien, he’d need to replace him with a Francophone head coach and he wasn’t a fan of what was available. So he dug into his foxhole and conspired to keep Therrien, but remove his power. Of course, he recognized he needed to fill the “running the team” vacancy and so he went out and acquired the greatest leader in the NHL (Shea Weber) and then signed the guy he really wanted to be the head coach as an Associate Coach.

What does associate mean exactly? Well the beauty of the word “associate” is it can mean anything. It can mean your co-assassins, as in “I am Vladimir Killskhull and this is my associate Dead Eye.” It could be like an associate producer on a movie, which means you have to do all the annoying work the real producers don’t want to do. If you’re an associate attorney it means you don’t own the law firm, but you’re still a lawyer. In the case of the Montreal Canadiens it means “the real head coach but he’s not French so we kept Therrien on and buttered him up with that foxhole stuff and now everyone is happy.”

Good thing for Michel that he’s bringing Shea Weber to the All-Star Game with him.