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The Upper Canadien

Habs go back to the future, hire Mike Therrien

And with a sweeping reach back to 2001-02, when Jose Theodore was great, Saku Koivu was a hero (still is), and Donald Audette was a playoff luminary, Marc Bergevin shocked no one and named Michel Therrien head coach of the Montreal Canadiens (again).

Let’s just get this out of the way: yes, he shouldn’t have had Bill Lindsay on the ice, and yes, Yanic Perreault should have taken the face-off. He hasn’t coached since he was in Pittsburgh, and he hasn’t won anything at the NHL level. They’re talking points, but we’ve heard them a lot today. Let’s move on.

Now, what sort of coach will Therrien be? A defensive, gritty, hard-nosed leader who demands accountability. What will that mean for Montreal? Perhaps a lot more of the Jacques Martin hockey that was loathed, but with a touch of physical play and a lot more emotion. Therrien is known as a short-tempered bench boss, someone who let’s the referees know when they’ve made a mistake, and let’s his players know when they’ve crossed him.

Is that what Montreal needs? I don’t think it necessarily is - but I also think that just about anything is an improvement on the previous regime, so I’m willing to give Bergevin a pass here.

However, I’m noticing a theme. Rick Dudley. Scott Mellanby. Martin Lapointe. Bergevin seems to be, for lack of a better term, hiring his friends. Is that the way to run a hockey team? I suppose Therrien doesn’t fit the buddy dynamic, but I worry that we’re getting a management team of friends, which isn’t necessarily the best way to run a hockey team. Would you run your business that way (if you have one)? Normally, it’s best guy for the job, not best guy who’s a friend of mine.

Sure, the head coaching options weren’t all that glamourous, but was Therrien really the best choice? Where’s the Stanley Cup pedigree? Where’s the proven winning background? How about the many complaints of players who have played for him (as recently as today, as Terry Ryan diplomatically opined on Therrien’s past issues to TSN 990 in Montreal)? Does Therrien really have a better resume than Marc Crawford? Guy Carbonneau? Patrick Roy? Perhaps the Canadiens really did make an error in missing on Bob Hartley?

The most important guy in this equation is Bergevin. He’s building the team, and he’s making the decisions. So let’s see what he does at the draft and on July 1st. But there seems to be an epidemic of hires in Montreal who share a common DNA thread, that being that they’ve been buddies of Mr. Bergevin. Will that lead to a championship team? I don’t think so, and at this point, simply as a sign that things are changing, I’d like to see him go outside the box.

We had the buddy-buddy strategy under Gainey, Gauthier and co. It didn’t’ work. Bottom line: I want to see the Habs start to win. I’m not sure the leadership they’re putting together is going to help them do that.

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Most accurate line I heard about Therrien recently is he doesn’t just throw people under the bus, he orders the bus.

This seems to indicate to me an extraordinary lack of vision for this management team and that’s not a good thing considering they just started. Therrien wears out his welcome very quickly wherever he goes. The clock is now ticking down on Bergevin’s reign over this franchise and his end is closer than he can imagine.

Posted by BlackXinu on 06/07/12 at 07:36 AM ET

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

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