Thursday, February 18, 2016

Is Habs' coach Therrien to blame for blaming P.K. Subban?

Poor Len Canayen here, asking the question: Is alleged all-star defenceman P.K. Subban the cause of the Montréal Canadiens problems?

The skinny: The Canadiens lost last night's game against the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 3-2. The game-winning goal was scored by old pro Jerome Iginla after a typical P.K. Subban turnover in the Avalanche zone. With about three minutes left, the all-star showboat tried to go around Colorado’s Mikhail Grigorenko, but was poke-checked and fell to the ice. Grigorenko started a three-man rush the other way that led to Iginla’s game-winner.

After the game, Habs' coach Michel Therrien met the meeja, as usual, and, according to Canadian Press, blamed the loss on "an individual mistake". Asked to elaborate, he said, without naming the induhvidual (seen here wearing the goat horns), "We believe that...he could have made a better decision at the blue line. He put himself in a tough position. We play as a team. When we don’t we could be in trouble and this is what happened." So who he meant was pretty clear, eh.

The headline on Bill Beacon's CP story, as it appeared in the Toronto Star: "Canadiens coach Michel Therrien under fire after pinning latest loss on P.K. Subban". In other words, the heat is on Therrien for pointing the finger at He Who Must Not Be Criticized.

Headline in Pat Hickey's column in today's Montreal Gazette: "In the Habs' Room: Therrien blames Subban for loss to Avalanche". In spite of being part of the Gazoo's team of cheerleaders (Hello, Dave Stubbs!), Mr. Hickey knows his hockey, and is usually unafraid to call it as he sees it. Here's what he wrote: "Coach Michel Therrien didn’t hesitate to point a finger at defenceman P.K. Subban after the Canadiens lost a 3-2 decision to the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night. 'We played a solid game and it’s disappointing that we lost because of an individual mistake,' said Therrien. The coach didn’t name any names but it was obvious he was talking about his star defenceman, who lost the puck with a little more than two minutes to play in regulation."

Mr. Hickey goes on to give Subban's side of the story -- "I crossed over and lost an edge" -- without taking sides. But the CP story says "On social media, many blamed for Subban for making a selfish play, but just as many defended the team’s scoring leader and top offensive weapon, saying the Canadiens need wins for any hope of making the playoffs and it is up to the club’s best players to try to make it happen."

Among those who think Subban is part of the problem rather than part of the solution is the Habs fan who sent us a Bcc of an e-mail written to Pat Hickey on the 16th -- the day before yesterday's loss. Here's what he wrote:

Saw your piece today quoting (as usual) P.K. Subban, “We didn’t show up” etc. Frankly, I’m tired of the Gazette always writing about Subban, as if there’s no-one else but him (and the absent Carey Price). It’s not you so much as your colleague, Stubbsy, who never gets tired of leading the cheers for P.K. even when he’s obviously a large part of “we”, i.e. part of the problem.

Yesterday the National Post had an article by one of your colleagues...about the problems in the dressing room, including friction between Subban and Pacioretty. I have said before (including previous e-mails to you and Stubbsy) that Subban is more of a liability to the team than an asset. I know you guys will disagree, but it seems to me the question should at least be open for debate. Perhaps moving Subban – if they can find anyone willing to take on a risky (alleged) defenceman at an outrageous salary – would be a step towards a solution.

That's pretty much what I've been saying for the last two years! See (for example) "Memo from Poor Len Canayen to Marc Bergevin" (WWW 13/5/15) and "Subban booed at Bell Centre as Canadiens lose another one" (WWW 27/1/16). I'm glad to see that Subban's deficiencies are at last part of the conversation.

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