Category Archives: Michel Therrien

Weise Inked

Louis Leblanc is traded to Anaheim for a conditional 5th round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Michel Therrien earns himself a four-year contract extension, and now Dale Weise has a two-year extension in his back pocket.

That’s the easy stuff for Marc Bergevin, and I’m tremendously happy about Weise being rewarded. He’s gritty, tough, and full of character. And unlike the majority of NHLers, he loves the whole idea about being a Montreal Canadien.

He’s like me, only instead of gritty, tough, and full of character, I’m gritty, weak, and full of shit.

For Therrien, what happens if he loses the room or gets into a major blowout with Bergevin early into his four years?

Now it’s getting P.K. to sign on the dotted line and deciding what to do about Andrei Markov, who apparently has his heart set on a three-year deal. After a few more years, Markov will be almost as fast as Hal Gill at his slowest.

And no, now that Shawn Thornton is being set free in Boston, he’s not welcome in Montreal and the idea of him wearing the CH should never be considered. So stop considering it or I’ll spray you with water.

Guy Should Have A Blog

Guy Lafleur should have a blog. Imagine the insights we’d get!

Guy could tell us all about his troubles with Jacques Lemaire, about why the team hasn’t won the Cup since 1993, why Rejean Houle didn’t get enough in return for Patrick Roy, why Steve Shutt was hard on rookies, what he thinks Michel Therrien is doing wrong, why sometimes there’s not enough foam on the Bell Centre beer. All kinds of stuff.

Imagine the readership he’d get. We’d rush to open his blog to see what he says. It might be the most fascinating blog in the history of blogs.

“You can’t keep guys like Vanek and Pacioretty on the team,” Lafleur now says. “They should stay home if they’re not willing to pay the price. Your team won’t win with players like that who disappear under adversity.”

Guy would get a million hits for that story alone. Advertisers would flock to him. He’d be the king of bloggers.

Lafleur was basically talking about game six of the Rangers series that ended the Habs year. New York threw a blanket over the Canadiens and that was that.

The problem, I think, is that some of the true greats like Lafleur sometimes expect others to step it up in superstar fashion, and I guess lately he’s been stewing about the team, Max and Vanek in particular, not pulling out all the stops in that final game.

Max, however, had scored the winning goal in both the Tampa and Boston series which eliminated those teams, so it wasn’t like he was going through the motions. He’s enjoyed some fine moments. But Guy was focused mostly on game six of the Rangers series when all the boys, not just Max, were stuck in mud.

Vanek, I still don’t know. Guy might have a point there. The guy had helped kickstart the team into another level when he joined them, but was definitely a disappointment in the postseason, not just game six but throughout.

But he’s probably gone anyway so it doesn’t matter what Guy says about it.

Some guys think out loud like Guy, others don’t. Bobby Orr’s teammates in Boston said that if they weren’t playing well in big games, they’d look over at Orr in the dressing room and he’d be glaring at certain guys. No words, just two eyes. If Orr was glaring at you, it wasn’t good.

Lafleur’s very much like Maurice Richard in some ways. Rocket sometimes couldn’t contain himself either, and after too much criticism in his ghost-written newspaper column, sometimes about other players and teams but particularly about league prez Clarence Campbell, Rocket was told to forget the column or else.

But no one could tell Guy to forget his blog. He could carry about things and Gary Bettman or Geoff Molson couldn’t say a thing.

C’mon Guy, start your blog. Get it all out, right or wrong, and make some serious coin doing it.

 

 

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

Price Gone For Series

Carey Price is on the shelf for at least the Eastern Conference Final, with the following just released from CBC:

Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien told the media on Monday morning that Carey Price will not be available to the club for the remainder of the season.

Price was injured in Game 1 when New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider collided into the net after a scoring bid.

Price had been outstanding for Montreal through two playoff series until New York’s 7-2 in on Saturday.

Therrien said he wasn’t sure if Price would be available for the Stanley Cup final if Montreal were to come back against the Rangers.

Montreal’s tandem will now be comprised of Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski.

Series Has Only Just Begun

Okay, a few dark clouds have drifted in. When haven’t they?

A 7-2 throttling in game one. A possible Carey Price injury. A situation where a two-game series lead for the Rangers would suck much more than a 7-2 series opener.

But if Price is injured, if we find ourselves suddenly in a wretched hole, keep in mind it’s still not over. Our dream of seeing the Habs competing for the Stanley Cup isn’t done until the mature and the gentlemanly handshakes have begun.

What I’m saying is, except for the truly dominant teams over the years, which we all know Montreal isn’t quite yet but regardless, the road to the Stanley Cup has always been lined with more potholes than Montreal streets, which, if you’ve driven Montreal streets, is a lot.

Guys get injured, unknown factors and horrible surprises crop up. But championship teams, teams that scraped and clawed and came out bruised, battered and bloodied, somehow found a way to reach the promised land, and if Carey Price is hurt and Peter Budaj is forced to come in, everyone deals with it, plays even that much harder, blocks even that many more shots, chemistry and bonding boils over the top, and their names ultimately become inscribed on the Stanley Cup through blood, sweat, and tears.

Man that was a long sentence.

Teams don’t usually coast to the Stanley Cup. Some of the 1970s Habs teams might have, but not in general. Sometimes they coast to the first place in their division, and maybe through the first few rounds of the playoffs, but not all the way to the Cup. If it was like that, it wouldn’t be the most meaningful trophy in all the land.

If Price is hurt, which we still don’t know yet, the scenario we hope for is this: Budaj is forced to come in, he stands on his head, the team carries on and wins it all, and Budaj is forever after talked about by fans and historians as the the guy who, as a backup goalie, joined the fray and helped his team win it all.

How great would that be? We’ve seen Budaj perform in unreal situations this year, so why not again? It’s the best and only thing we can ask, aside from Price being okay and is good to go.

As far as the Chris Kreider’s crash into Price controversy goes, I’ve looked at the play below several times, and although you might disagree, I have this to say about it.

All season long I’ve harped about the fact that not enough Canadiens are willing to crash the net. Aside from Brendan Gallagher, it’s just not what we’ve seen from most guys on most nights. Chris Kreider was skating hard, as he should be, and in a nano second, his skate may have done some damage, which I hope wasn’t the case.

Did he have time to react differently? Not by what I saw on the video.

I know Michel Therrien isn’t happy about it, and I know Brandon Prust said it was “accidentally on purpose”. But this was a split-second situation during the world’s fastest game and I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not about to become a Chris Kreider fan. Are you kidding? I hope Alexei Emelin leaves a dent in the boards with Krieder’s body the way Larry Robinson did with Gary Dornhoefer. I hope we never have to mention his name again. I hope a slapshot removes all his teeth. I hope he turns out to be a bum and ends up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

I’m just saying I want more from the Habs like what Kreider did. Skate like the wind, blow by guys, don’t let up when you reach the crease.

It would also be just fine if Henrik Lundqvist tasted some of the medicine that was given to Price. Let the Rangers be forced to use to their backup goaltender.

All’s fair in love and war.

 

 

Hockey Morning In Brossard

Luci and I went to the Habs practice this morning at the Sports Complex in Brossard, and I have to say, do I ever love doing this. Luci does too.

Grab a chair, sit behind glass in the open area with coffee in hand, and watch the boys go through various drills in an organized and business-like manner.

Stephane Waite had about eight players working on Carey Price from different angles and Price was up and down and didn’t seemed to be labouring with his knee.

Buday and Tokarski manned the other end with the rest of the guys.

Thomas Vanek was on a line with Max and Desharnais. The EGG line was together. Briere skated with Plekanec and Gionta. Prust, Weise, and Moen were together, and depending on the drill, it was various combinations involving White, Bourque, Parros and Michael Bournival.

And although it was cool to see everyone out there doing their thing, I found myself watching Bournival often. This is a kid with good size, is a beautiful skater, and has a great wrist shot.

My feeling is, Bournival (who was drafted in 2010 by Colorado and traded to the Canadiens later that year for Ryan O’Byrne) has a long and fruitful career ahead of him and the Canadiens landed a beauty when they got him.

Yes indeed, taking in a Habs practice.

A great way top spend an hour and a half. It’s nice that the public can do this and it’s all very comfortable.

Like a kid, I’m wide-eyed when I see the guys firing pucks and skating like the wind close up in practice. I guess I’m never going to truly grow up.

Brossard 1

Brossard 2

 

The Night MT Blew His Team’s Chances

Michel Therrien, as you know, coached the Canadiens once before, from 2000-01, when he replaced Alain Vigneault after 20 games, to part way through the 2002-03 season when he was fired and the team brought in Claude Julien.

That first season under Therrien saw the Canadiens miss the playoffs after going 23-27-13 under him.

The third season saw him fired after a dismal stretch that saw the Canadiens lose ten of twelve games.

But it was the middle year of Therrien’s reign, 2001-02, and in particular the second round of the playoffs, that became the saddest state of affairs.

The team, with a tremendously hot Jose Theodore in nets and a heroic Saku Koivu, who had returned to the team just prior to the post season after his fight with cancer, had upset the favoured Bruins in the first round and met the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.

Montreal would jump into a 2-1 series lead against the Hurricanes, and were leading 3-0 in the third period of game four when Therrien decided to yell at referee Kerry Fraser when the Habs were already a man short.

Fraser gave Therrien a bench minor for being mouthy, and it was downhill from there.

The Hurricanes scored on the 5 on 3, rallied and won 4-3 in overtime, and then clobbered the Canadiens 5-1 and 8-2 to eliminate Therrien and his deflated players.

Carolina would eventually lose in five games to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals after taking out the Maple Leafs in six games in the Eastern Final.

It could’ve been Montreal taking out the Leafs if it wasn’t for Therrien.

It could’ve been Montreal in the finals against Detroit, and although they would’ve been in tough against a team that boasted the likes of Shanahan, Fedorov, Hull, Yzerman, Lidstrom, Robitaille and the rest, at least they would’ve been in the finals, something that hasn’t happened since 1993 when they won it all.

But Therrien screwed it up.

Here’s Kerry Fraser’s explanation of the Therrien bench minor, from a 2011 TSN story.

“The bench penalty that put Montreal down two men was a turning point in the series for sure. The Habs were cruising along at the midway point of the third period and Therrien was feeling pretty good about himself and their chances, all decked out in his bright yellow sports coat. (I mention this because you couldn’t miss him behind the bench.)

“As the Carolina Hurricanes attacked the Montreal goal, Habs defenseman Stephane Quintal  delivered a heavy cross-check to the back of the upper shoulder/neck of a Cane with such force that it knocked the player clear into the back of the net. I was the trailing referee and called it from an open sightline at the blue line. It was an obvious infraction and Quintal went right to the penalty box.

“I was standing at the referee crease, about 90 feet as the crow flies from the Canadiens bench, assessing the penalty when I heard Coach Therrien screaming at me. I turned to see Therrien standing on top of the boards, like a big yellow bumble bee buzzing his wings up and down and hollering, “Kerry, what the *&^%$?”  At this point I really didn’t want to assess a bench penalty to put his team down two men so I thought I would give him a second chance. I pointed to my chest and mouthed the words, “Are you talking to me?”  Therrien nodded his head and shouted for the second time, “Yeah, what the &^%$?” I guess he wanted to make sure I got the point, even on the second attempt.”

 

 

Practice Makes Perfect

While you were helping keep things going by working hard, Luci and I were at the Brossard barn to watch the Habs work out on the field and then on the ice.

Not once did Michel Therrien or Gerard Gallant call me down and ask for advice.

Why would that be?

Anyway, everyone seemed loose and in a good mood and I suppose that’s good.

Practice Notes:

Max wasn’t there.

Price likes to bug teammates by flipping pucks at them.

The lady at the coffee counter is quite attractive.

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Moving On, Sort Of

Not all that thrilled with Michel Therrien right now, not that it matters I guess. Of course he could care less what me or anyone else thinks, aside from Marc Bergevin.

The Canadiens played like a frightened, hesitant, overwhelmed team against Philadelphia, and the one time one of them showed some fire and passion, PK Subban, who took a penalty for smacking a guy, the coach sat him on the bench for parts of the third period as punishment.

The one guy who was was actually awake and who may have helped in any sort of comeback attempt. Guys can sleepwalk, not score for fifteen games, and play like they’re hungover, but when PK shows some fire, not long after being named to the Olympic squad which means he’s one of the best of the best, he’s punished like a kid in school.

And Danno brought up a good point about Therrien not pulling Budaj for an extra attacker in the last minute. Therrien said he saw no reason, because the boys weren’t in it anyway. What kind of reasoning is that?

Mike also suggests that maybe those who thought it was wrong to bring in a coach who’d been canned once before by the team might be right after all.

Anyway, moving on. It can’t be healthy to stew for so long like this.

From the CJAD website – a backyard rink in St-Lazare, near Montreal.

rink 1

rink 2

rink 3

rink 4

 

 

 

Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.