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- Peter Budaj received just 2.13 goals per game in support from the Habs last year. That's the lowest goal support total for a Montreal goalie (min. 10 GP) since Jocelyn Thibault (2.10) in 1998-99 (before getting traded to Chicago).
The re-hiring of Michel Therrien as head coach came as a surprise to many even though he had long been speculated to be a finalist for the position. The decision has been met with mixed reaction from fans and the media alike. Not surprisingly, our writers have varying opinions on this and offer up their thoughts.
Matt Dilworth: To be honest, Michel Therrien was my least preferred candidate for the head coach position, and I was initially devastated to learn that he'd been hired. After all, he didn't really impress me during his first tenure with the Habs, and I had thought that the Pittsburgh successes had occurred in spite of him, rather than the opposite. Plus, his legendary short fuse and tendency to openly criticize his players in front of the media weren't exactly the appealing characteristics I felt were well-suited to the job.
Nevertheless, Therrien does boast excellent credentials, and at first glance, appears to be willing to put his past experiences to use to ice a hard-working squad. If he can do this, and if he has learned from his mistakes, perhaps his second stint will be more successful than the first. Therrien does have the advantage of knowing what kind of situation he will be coaching in Montreal, is familiar with these Canadiens, and does have a better version of the Habs to work with this time around. So, until he has given me reason to believe otherwise, I am willing to give Therrien the benefit of the doubt, and wipe the slate clean for this coming season.
Brian La Rose: I'm guessing Therrien blew Marc Bergevin off his feet in the interview process. Since he arrived, Bergevin was preaching communication. Therrien isn't exactly known as being the best communicator with his players despite being quite vocal at times behind the bench. He's also not known for being the best tactician either. However, he is thought of more as the motivator type, something we haven't seen for a while so perhaps the change of pace elicits a better response. As much as the end of his tenure with Pittsburgh wasn't too good, he did do some good things in his first full year there and did some great things with their farm team. The Habs share a couple of characteristics to those teams, they have a young core and they record was terrible the year before.
Was Therrien my top choice for the job? Not even close. Was he the worst choice? I don't think so. Was he a safe choice? Although most are saying yes, I think he's far from one given the potential for volatility. I do, however, trust Bergevin here. Going through as lengthy a process as the Habs did here, I trust that he believes he's the best fit. If only there would have been a better class of coaches available...
Alex Lťtourneau: I donít understand this. I do not see the logic, the thought process, whatever you want to call it, in the hiring of Michel Therrien. I was genuinely stunned when the reports came pouring in that it was a two horse race between him and Crawford after Hartley was hired by Calgary, let alone my complete confusion of the position actually being confirmed as his. The lone bright spot with his tenure with the Habs was beating the hated Bruins in that first round matchup. And that victory was largely on the back of Jose Theodoreís brilliance and Saku Koivuís inspirational return to the lineup. His tenure in Pittsburgh was better with a Stanley Cup finals appearance but aside from that, his record with that talented team was a rollercoaster of long win streaks and long losing streaks. That unfortunate outburst where he threw his team under the bus, then backed up and ran over his defensemen again in the same breath turned me off the man completely. Regardless of how disappointed you are in your boys, I thought that lacked class. All it took was Dan Bylsma coming in for 25 games that season, replacing Therrien and losing only three of those games in regulation en route to a Stanley Cup championship, to show he was not the right man for the job.
So, as mentioned above, I donít get it. Maybe he has a plan that blew Bergevin, Savard, Molson, Carriere, etc. out of the water but it still puzzles me. Not to say Marc Crawford is a wizard behind the bench but I wouldíve taken him every day of the week and twice on Sunday from the pool of coaches that were in the running for the position towards the end. I never really understood the rationale of bringing back a coach who was let go by the same organization. Itís one thing if he left of his own will but to be fired then rehired down the line is strange. Anyway, I hope Iím wrong and Therrien is able to restore this team into something other than a first or second round team. Everyone has lauded Bergevinís moves to date but I canít see this one being praised all that much.
Norm Szcyrek: The Michel Therrien hiring has caused a significant stir among Montreal fans and media, for differing reasons. Some are saying that the Habs "settled" for Therrien, after apparent front runner Bob Hartley was hired by Calgary recently. Hartley's resume boasted a Stanley Cup while in Colorado, which appeared to give him an edge for the job. Some were clamouring for the Habs to hire Patrick Roy, who has an impressive history with the Habs (some bad, but mostly good). Rumours surfaced after the Habs hiring on Tuesday that Roy was asking for too much player control at the coach's position, and a much higher salary than a typical rookie NHL coach. Roy may be a good coach at the junior level, and may eventually be given employment at the pro level, but his lack of NHL coaching experience caused him to fail that litmus test for the Habs. Marc Crawford was also one of the finalists for the position, and like Hartley has a Cup ring to his credit. His mastery of the French language may have been a handicap for him. Therrien does come with that experience, and has had some success in the past. Perhaps an older, wiser Michel (Therrien 2.0) will be better prepared as the Habs head coach this time around. He's faced with a huge challenge, given the team's last place finish in the Eastern conference.
Mitchell Tierney: Like everything else in this sport it remains to be seen how well Michel Therrien will do as coach of the Montreal Canadiens. As we know time and time again what is on paper doesn't necessarily translate into what happens on the ice. This deal has already has both Hab fans and media crying foul and he hasn't even coached yet. One of the best demonstrations of this is the "Fire Therrien" forum topic that has already been created. However, I think that this move made the greatest sense within the circumstances. Therrien knows the organization and knows the pressures associated with being a coach in Montreal. He has had relative success in this league and is decent with young players, something that is important. Furthermore, he knows the French language. This is something that needed to be considered when selected a coach far more then with the General Manager. I by no means think this is the best selection for the job. With all the other circumstances surrounding other potential candidates I think giving Guy Carbonneau another opportunity to coach this team was probably the wisest decision. But the Habs made a coaching choice that makes sense at the present time. It remains to be seen how much Therrien can be flexible, something he is not known for being particularly good at and how long it takes him to become reacquainted with his former coaching expertise having not been behind the bench for a few years now.