Here’s a broad sampling of reaction from hockey writers around the league to the Canadiens’ hiring of Michel Therrien as coach.
First is Pat Hickey’s Gazette story which summarizes Therrien’s hiring and the press conference.
Also in The Gazette, Mike Boone wrote, “Gone is the notorious mustard-coloured jacket, replaced on this occasion by a subtly pinstriped blue suit. And gone, at least on Day 1 of his second coming, was the stressed-out demeanour of a 38-year-old coach trying to wring wins out a bad hockey team, which is what the Canadiens were in 2003.” And Boone went on to explore his success in Pittsburgh, especially his handling of Kris Letang, who Therrien converted to a defenceman with excellent result, alluding to how the new coach might help P.K. Subban further his career.
On his blog, Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan notes Therrien championed the talents of Francis Bouillon, who he coached in junior, when no one else in the organization believed he’d even be an AHL player.
And Dave Stubbs in The Gazette recognized, “Therrien has fans and detractors in equal numbers, quite possibly more of the latter.” He added, “One prominent unrestricted free agent I’ve spoken with since regular-season’s end could be a nice fit in Montreal at a decent price and would fill a Habs need. But then I floated the name of Therrien among potential Canadiens coaches, a suggestion that drew 30 seconds of stone-cold silence. Finally: ‘If that happens,’ he said, ‘I’ve got 29 teams I can play for.’”
Here’s my thoughts on SI.com – Will Therrien’s second time be a charm?
In La Presse, François Gagnon writes Therrien deserves a second chance, “because Michel Therrien will be much better than he was during his first stay behind the bench for the Canadiens. It will be even better than he was when he left Pittsburgh, where he took a last place team in the lead to two Stanley Cup victories.” He believes Therrien was a better choice than Marc Crawford or Bob Hartley, who each won a Cup with the very talented Avalanche but should have each won more than one, considering the talent on that club. He adds that if Therrien shows up behind the bench in that yellow jacket, he will not defend him.
At RDS.ca, Renaud Lavoie likes the fact that Therrien has a longer history with the Canadiens than anyone else in the hockey department and believes it will be an asset for Marc Bergevin and his staff. “But the real reason that Michel Therrien was hired is because he was one of the best coaches available. If you look at what he accomplished with the Penguins, it’s a masterpiece.”
Also at RDS.ca, Bert Raymond acknowledges Therrien has the reputation as an emotional coach, “capable of calling a spade a spade before the cameras.” He believes some members of the Canadiens may not be too happy with the hiring. “It will be up to him to change their perception towards it. Therrien has matured. He is probably a different coach. But he is also an emotional man, hard but fair.”
Mario Tremblay said on RDS, “I loved to hear him say that there would be no complacency in his team and he wants a working club. He wants to restore the team to fans who like nothing better than having the right to a good show. Win or lose, fans want to leave the Bell Centre with the feeling of having witnessed a good show.”
Don Brennan in The Ottawa Sun wrote, “T’es pas sérieux? Yes, it’s hard to believe the Montreal Canadiens really have hired Michel Therrien to be their coach again. Mario Tremblay must have been busy….There must be a reason Therrien hasn’t been a serious coaching candidate with any team since the Penguins cut him loose. Might have something to do with the fact that his style is more suited to handle juniors or minor leaguers….But what about Marc Crawford? That’s the man who should have been introduced as the new bench boss to the Montreal media Tuesday.”
On CBC.ca, Tim Wharnsby writes, “He’s an in-your-face coach who in the past has worn down his players to a point of no return…The Canadiens head coach portfolio may be the most difficult in the NHL. The fan base is loyal, but it yearns for success like no other. The media is the most severe in the league….This was far from a safe choice for Bergevin. Maybe Crawford or Carbonneau would have been better. But we’ll see how much Therrien has changed once the season begins and if he can follow the path of success travelled by Julien, Burns, Robinson and Lemaire – only this time in Montreal.”
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star says, “It’s a safe choice, but a risky one at the same time….(He’s safe) because he’s bilingual, he’s connected to the Bergevin-Luc Robitaille-Pat Brisson-Mario Lemieux circle of trust and because there are many in Pittsburgh who would argue it was the structures and discipline that Therrien put in place that ultimately paved the way for the Pens to win the Cup the following season with Dan Bylsma behind the bench. He fits, to some degree, with the latest pattern of pre-enjoyed (recycled) coaching hires, which includes Ken Hitchcock (St. Louis), Randy Carlyle (Toronto), Darryl Sutter (Los Angeles) and Bob Hartley (Calgary)….(And he’s risky because he) wasn’t successful last time, and why would you bring back a coach who didn’t win?”
On The Hockey News website, Adam Proteau believes, “His hiring has the stench of a stopgap measure, a consolation choice that will suffice for a couple of years before an ideal candidate becomes available. Maybe that candidate is current Lightning bench boss Guy Boucher; maybe it’s Alain Vigneault, who signed a two-year contract extension in May to continue coaching the Vancouver Canucks; maybe it’s Patrick Roy, if NHL expansion or relocation to Quebec City doesn’t pan out as many expect; or perhaps it’s Hartley, a rumored favorite to take the Habs job before he accepted the same position in Calgary….If it feels like he’s the equivalent of the person you ask to the prom after the rest of your high school is busy going with other people and/or washing their hair, it’s because he is.”
Jonathan Willis blogging on The Cult of Hockey in The Edmonton Journal writes, “My initial reaction to Montreal’s hiring of Therrien was surprise; like most people, Pittsburgh’s improvement under Bylsma was the first thing that came to mind and it did not incline me to think charitably of the choice. Looking at his whole record, however, I’ve changed my mind. Montreal was lost last season, and Therrien has over his career been surprisingly good at squeezing the most talent out of underpowered teams. I’m not convinced that he’ll be the long term solution for the Canadiens, but I’ve come around to the idea that he’s an excellent short-term hire.”
Louis Jean writes on Sportsnet.ca “The initial reaction to Therrien’s hiring hasn’t been overly positive. Truth be told, it’s been pretty negative. Some fans and observers have been extremely critical of the move. The main reason, of course, being that if it didn’t work before, how could it possibly work this time? To me, there are many flaws in this overly simplistic theory. For example, take a look at the roster Therrien had to work with in his first tour of duty and you tell me who could have done better? Sure he made some mistakes. Sure some of them were costly. But I think to suggest Therrien hasn’t changed or evolved as a man and a head coach would be completely unfair.” And here’s the link to Louis Jean interview with Therrien on Sportsnet.
TSN’s Gino Reda interviews Therrien here, giving his views of the team he takes over.
Scott Burnside on ESPN.com writes: “Will the Canadiens, no strangers to underachievement, have an easy time with Therrien? Don’t bet on it. We expect there will be lots of sharp words and long practices if the Canadiens start next season playing as they did through much of last. But we don’t expect some of the public lashings that marked his early days in Pittsburgh, where he once wondered aloud to the media if his players were actually trying to become the worst defensive team in the NHL. No, this time around the Habs will be getting a more refined Therrien. Not necessarily kinder or gentler but refined, seasoned.”