Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Habs shocker! Therrien out, Julien in

Cazart! Should have seen it coming. I (Poor Len) was watching the Montréal Canadiens get blanked by the Boston Bruins on Sunday night, and thought to myself, "Are these guys trying to get [Michel] Therrien fired?"

Well of course they were! Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, it appears to me that the team was hammering the final nail into the coffin that they began building the night Therrien yanked Carey Price after a couple of soft goals, and get the Stare Seen Across Canada. Et maintenant, pour Michelle, c'est terminé.

The lack of cordial relations between Michel Therrien and some of his players has been the subject of discussion before, notably last year when Habs GM Marc Bergevin was forced to choose between the coach and the "transcendant defenceman" (Dave Stubbs' phrase -- where's Dave now?), and, predictably, chose Therrien. Subban didn't have a lot of friends in the room.

With Price, and (to a lesser extent) Max Pacioretty, it's a different story. Both are genuine team leaders on the ice and in the dressing room, one by virtue of the "C" on his chest, the other by being, on many nights, the best player on the ice. As Price goes, so goes the team. And after an amazing start in October and November, Price... and the Habs... have been going steadily downhill. Price is untouchable, and rightly so, so... adieu Michel!

The funny thing is that this same thing happened before, in 2003. Therrien had coached le CH for three or so mediocre years, so he was given the boot and Julien brought in to replace him. Three years later, then-GM Bob Gainey gave the other boot to Julien and went in behind the bench himself, not that it did any good. I hope we're not going to go through this every 14 years!

As for Michel Therrien, my guess (since I missed this week's shocker) is that he'll wind up with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, due to join the NHL next year as Gary Bitchman's craze for promoting hockey in the desert continues unabated. All the talk last week, when Julien was fired, was that he'd be a perfect fit for Vegas. Since Julien and Therrien have the same physique, the same temperament and are both French-Canadians, Therrien should do just fine in Sin City. American fans won't even be able to tell the difference. Lifetime pct .986.

À lire: "Les défis de Claude Julien", de Mathias Brunet, La Presse, 15/2/17.

À voir (to see!): This week's edition of the HI/O show, with Montreal Gazette sportswriter Pat Hickey, and two former CH bruisers: Knucks Nilan and Georges Laraque. [That guy -- Laraque -- is HUGE! Too bad he wasn't really mean. Ed.]

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