Michel Therrien’s explanation for benching his leading scorer for most of the third period in a game the Canadiens trailed by two goals:
“Team concept is very important.
“That will never, never, never change.”
Let’s see if we can top the kindly old coach:
The Canadiens will never, never, never, never make the playoffs if Therrien screws up P.K. Subban.
And the coach was not content with benching the Canadiens’ best player.
Down two goals late, Therrien did not bother pulling goaltender Peter Budaj.
What message does that send to his team?
“You bozos will never, never, never, never, never score a goal anyway, so I’m not even going to let you have an extra skater to try.”
And if I’m P.K., I’m on the phone to my agent Thursday morning telling Don Meehan to take my next contract to arbitration and then get my ass out of Neverland.
OK, that’s a bit extreme.
But the benching – along with a half-season’s worth of lukewarm, grudging praise from Therrien and general manager Marc Bergevin – has to have P.K. wondering whether the Canadiens’ braintrust is giving him the respect his talent deserves.
Canadiens fans love him.
General managers of 29 other teams would love to have him.
But in the executive suite of the Bell Centre, Subban seems to be something of an enfant mal aimé.
Maybe it’s because in their pre-game interviews with RDS’s Pierre Houde, P.K.’s hat was snazzier than Bergevin’s green shirt.
If the Canadiens were being run out of the Wells Fargo Center, maybe the coach sends a few messages. But this was a winnable hockey game, and the best skater wasn’t on the ice.
Yes, Subban took a bad and selfish penalty at the end of the second period.
As the siren sounded, he was roughed up behind the Canadiens’ net by Philadelphia fourth-liner Chris Vandevelde. A scrum ensued, and P.K. took an ill-advised poke at Sean Couturier.
Subban began the third period in the penalty box. Then he skated to the Canadiens’ bench, where Therrien kept him for the next 10 minutes.
The message was old-school and perfectly clear: You hurt the team, so you sit.
But I guess the Western Union office closed before Therrien could send a message to Rene Bourque, who has yet to record a point in 16 road games this season.
Or to Max Pacioretty, who was comatose for 40 minutes but took a regular shift in the third period.
Or to whoever is drawing up a power play that has become predictable, easily defended and consequently impotent.
There was no shortage of potential message recipients. The Canadiens were awful.
“Too many passengers,” concluded RDS analyst Marc Denis after the final siren. “Not enough emotion.”
P.K. Subban isn’t the reason the Canadiens lost in Philadelphia.
Nor can he be blamed for the way this flawed team has stumbled and bumbled since the beginning of December. It’s frightening to imagine where the Canadiens would be without the only player who can be relied upon to consistently move the puck into the offensive zone or pass it to forwards in motion.
Here’s the message someone should be transmitting to Therrien: P.K. Subban is your best skater … by a lot.
Quit effing with him.
How will the benching of P.K. play in the Canadiens’ room?
Short-term results were not promising. They had five shots on goal in the third period.
The better indicator will come Saturday night, when the Stanley Cup champions visit the Bell Centre.
If the Canadiens play as badly against Chicago as they did in Philadelphia, the Hawks could duplicate that pasting L.A. laid on the home side Dec. 10.
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Two Guest Comments, from the game blog thread:
Ok, I missed the game tonight. Looks like the only thing of consequence I missed is the benching of PK on a night where apparently most players didn’t come to play.
You know, I have tried to follow MT’s actions and thought process closely since his infamous “making PK a better player and better person” proclamation, which I continue to find laughably weird considering the well-rounded person Subban is.
But hear me out here… Could it be that one night after having been named on Team Canada as part of the elite among the elite in the NHL, and only a few months after Subban won the Norris Trophy, MT came into this game thinking he might need to start breaking this guy again to reinstate the fears, doubts, fake humility he’d rather see in Subban’s eyes or maybe just so that PK understands the coach is not done ‘correcting’ him?
Okay, I’m speculating wildly here, but does that penalty deserve that response when we’re talking about the team’s best player and we’re down 3-1.
And from my friend J.Ambrose.Obrien:
I really didn’t have a big issue with the benching, nor the refusal to pull Budaj. In the context of such a listless performance, I can forgive Therrien’s frustration. But that doesn’t change my opinion that MT is not a good fit for this club. And I do find his relationship with PK strained and strange. Am I the only one who found it odd that, while stating how he thought Carey deserved to be on the national team, he then added “and PK, too” almost as an afterthought ?
It looks more and more to me like the team is tuning out.
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News flash: Coach cuts off nose to spite face