Habs chose the wrong coach
New Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien (left) stands with general manager Marc Bergevin during a press conference in Brossard, Que., June 5, 2012. (PIERRE-PAUL POULIN/QMI Agency)
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.
The Habs might have been better off going with Mike Therien, Sun Media's vice president of multiplatform content. This company has made great strides under his watch. He has a track record of success.
The same can't be said for Therrien or his previous stumble with Les Glorieux.
In 190 regular season games behind the Montreal plank from 2000-03 he was 77-77-36. In 12 playoff games he was 6-6.
That's going to keep Quebecers purchasing Molson Canadian beer?
More likely, news of Therrien's hiring will have them reaching for the hard stuff.
Sure, the 48-year-old Montreal native had better results as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2005 until he was fired Feb. 15, 2009 -- a move that helped the Penguins win the Cup four months later.
He also had Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in his lineup. Even Dave "Sparky" Allison -- who was 2-22-1 coaching the 1995-96 Ottawa Senators -- could have won a pot or two with those aces.
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.
Nobody will admit it, but he could not have been the first choice of Habs rookie GM Marc Bergevin. Surely, Bergevin preferred Bob Hartley, a former Cup winner who wound up taking a job with the Calgary Flames last week.
Snooze ya lose, right Marc?
It's understandable Bergevin didn't hire Patrick Roy, who is said to have wanted more control than was being offered.
But what about Marc Crawford?
That's the man who should have been introduced as the new bench boss to the Montreal media Tuesday. A veteran of 1,271 games as an NHL coach, Crawford has a championship ring (1996 Colorado Avalanche) and was already taking French lessons to prepare him for the post.
Crawford told friends he's never been more thoroughly interviewed for a job.
Therrien, meanwhile, might be best known for his throat-slash gesture and calling out his own players for their lack of caring.
"I'm really starting to believe their goal is to be the worst defensive squad in the league," Therrien said after a loss by his Penguins in '06. "And their doing such a great job (of) being the worst defensive squad in the league."
What he does have on Crawford is perfect command of the French language already.
At his news conference in Brossard, Que., Therrien was doing his best to charm the media. Obviously, he understands that first it is the powerful reporters and broadcasters who follow the Habs that have to be won over, not the fan base.
When answering how he's different as a coach now than he was his last stint in Montreal, Therrien added to his audience: "I can tell you guys have changed a lot, too."
He followed with a long, uncomfortable laugh at the own-joke. The moment will seem like an hour in a La-Z-Boy to him if the Habs get off to a poor start next season. For now, with the franchise in desperate need of an immediate turnaround, he's really on the hot seat.
Bergevin said that he talked to a lot of people before he hired Therrien for his "leadership, experience and the success he's had at all levels." He added that he was given the mandate to "bring back the winning tradition" and "that's why I choose Michel Therrien."
Said Therrien: "It's an important day for myself, my family, my friends ... I'm having a hard time expressing my feelings. I'm extremely honored to be here.
"I'm more ready than I was before (for this job). I can't wait for the challenge."
Once again, it's really too bad the Habs feel handcuffed into hiring a bilingual coach rather than simply being able to go with the best man available. But even of the candidates who can speak French, Therrien just doesn't seem to be the right choice.
No, that would be Crawford -- even if he is just learning what "t'es pas sérieux?" means.
MICHEL THERRIEN BIO
Name: Michel Therrien
Born: Nov. 4, 1963 (age 48) in Montreal
Playing career: Three years in the QMJHL (1980-83: Quebec, Chicoutimi, Longueuil) with 185 games played, 17 goals, 87 assists, 104 points, 302 penalty minutes. Four years in the AHL/IHL (1983-87: Nova Scotia, Sherbrooke, Milwaukee, Baltimore) with 208 games played, 17 goals, 74 assists, 91 points, 120 penalty minutes.
Coaching career: Five years in the QMJHL (1990-91, 1993-97: Laval, Granby) with 273 games,
191 wins, 71 losses, 11 ties. Best playoff finish: Won championshp (Granby, '95-96)
Seven years in the AHL (1997-2001: Fredericton, Quebec; 2003-06: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton) 444 games, 209 wins, 164 losses, 34 ties, 37 overtime losses. Best playoff finish: lost in Calder Cup final (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 2004). Seven years in the NHL (2000-03: Montreal, 2005-09: Pittsburgh) 462 games,
212 wins, 182 losses, 30 ties, 38 overtime losses. Best playoff finish: lost in Stanley Cup final (Pittsburgh, 2008)