Tag Archives: Kirk Muller

Therrien Gets Boot

I know that my friend Mike Williamson, for more than six decades a Habs fan, is pissed about the Therrien firing.

Not because Therrien was fired, that’s a great thing! But because he feels Claude Julien is just another old retread, as Therrien was. Both with two kicks at the can, and it should’ve been time for fresh blood.

Kirk Muller should’ve gotten the chance, says Mike. He liked the idea of Gerard Gallant coming back too.

I’m fine with having Julien on board. Or pretty well anybody else for that matter. Not Patrick Roy, but pretty well anybody. I’m a wait and see guy with Julien, and maybe he’ll help jumpstart a team that needs to send the wives to Powell River, put their heads down, look within themselves and not like what they see, and climb out of this freefall with whatever inner and outer strength it takes.

The fact is, even with a healthy Carey Price, the team now looks almost as bad as last year’s. And if they’re even close to last year’s futility after the dust settles, I know my soul will go dead and I’ll spend my remaining years drooling and maybe trying to understand cricket.

Even Danno, a fellow who was a regular and enthusiastic commentor on here for years, told me recently that because of last year, he barely pays attention now.

It hit us hard, that pathetic display by the Montreal Canadiens last year, and now WTF? Younger fans with favourite players might stay true and sort of excited, but guys like me are getting the shit pounded out of our hearts and the times they are a changin.

Danny Gallivan, where are you? Come down and help make hockey magical again.

Michel Therrien needed to go. Something that Dra58 (Dan in Malone NY) has been saying all along, year after year. He recognized the ‘boring, dump and chase, don’t take chances’ Therrien style, and hated it. Echoed by Peter Rherbergen in Chesley, Ontario who nicknamed Therrien ‘Thornbush’ and who has called for the coach’s head for several years.

Peter says today: “It’s Valentine’s Day, and Bergevin showed us some love. The boys can be creative again. Emelin will horizontalize folks again, Weber may return to being a force, Galchenyuk will gain confidence, Shaw will learn grit within the rules.

Peter has always complained that Therrien has stifled certain players’ creativity, including PK Subban’s. And the way the benchboss gave Desharnais such major minutes is a big head scratcher.

Dishonest John in Kenora, Ont is another one. “Yup, as each day went by in this break I was thinking there was less and less of a chance this could happen. Now I’m over the moon.”

I’ll bet it’s the first time his high school students heard the old man yelp during math class.

We needed Michel Therrien gone for the sake of our health. Much of our mental stability was at stake. Although some of it was our own fault.

But imagine now if the thing continues to slide with Julien behind the bench. What a mess it would become. Another chapter of the big time soap opera called the Montreal Canadiens.  Equal parts sad and interesting soap opera.

Most of Montreal, plus fans everywhere else like you and me and Dan and Danno and Mike and Peter and Dishonest John, would need some serious drinks and drugs if the mess gets messier.

No way can we have a repeat of last year. So Therrien had to go.

Canadiens Zing The Blues

seven

Not much to report here.

Only that Canadiens beat the 5-1 (now 5-2) St. Louis Blues 3-0 to win their seventh straight out of the gate, with Carey Price recording his second shutout of this early season.

Seven wins and no losses, with Price as stingy as Scrooge McDuck, and everyone chipping in and doing their fare share of the housework.

On TV today it seemed like I heard nothing except how good the Blues are. And tonight I tuned into Montreal’s TSN 690 radio during the first intermission and the on-air guys simply gushed, and I mean gushed, about how fantastic the Blues are.

All that gushing, and the Habs were leading 1-0 at the time.

The first period showed the Blues on top of their game, outplaying and outmuscling the home team, and outshooting them 17-10. It was a concern. But like I say, we were leading.

Blues assistant coach Kirk Muller, interviewed midway through the frame, said there were good chances at both ends, but Kirk was just being polite because he’s a polite kind of guy. A good old Kingston boy.

Montreal was going nowhere, but Max Pacioretty deflected Tomas Plekanec’s shot with a minute and a half left, and outplayed or not, the home team took the lead.

Shortly before Alex Semin bulged the net in the second period with a fine wrist shot, Price made a huge glove save on Vlad Tarasenko, which prompted Scott Gomez to pat Price on the head.

Yes, that Scott Gomez. The face I hoped never to see again. Congratulating the opposing goalie like he used to when he played for the Habs. That Mr. Nice Guy thing to the enemy. The congratulations I never wanted to see again.

And there it was and there he was.

If the Blues are so good, how come they need Gomez?

Torrey Mitchell would make it 3-0 in the third frame after firing home a Subban rebound, and the Canadiens roll along like a train chugging across the prairies, with a bar car filled with us whoopin’ and hollerin’.

Random Notes:

It’s an amazing 7 goals against in 7 games for the team.

Although the Habs were outshot 17-10 in the first period, the Blues only slightly edged them in overall shots – 38 to 36.

There was slight nastiness. Nathan Beaulieu and Steve Ott squared off in the second period, and Beaulieu held his own against this guy who was playing like he wiped his ass with fibreglass insulation.

Ott was at it all night, that’s his game, that’s why he’s in the league, and he eventually got tossed with a couple of minutes left.

When I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers bantams and midgets, I was a bit of an asshole like Ott. But he gets in there and gives and takes blows, whereas I relied on bigger teammates to come to my rescue.

Next up – Friday in Buffalo, and it would be nice to make this thing eight straight. Buffalo might be better than last year, I don’t know. They’ve got this 18-year old phenom Jack Eichel, which must help.

Eighteen years old. Imagine.

The Sabres last year managed only 23 wins all season.

And we have seven already!

 

 

Game Day – Canes In Town

Like so many other teams, and there’s about six of them, the Carolina Hurricanes are hovering around the eighth and final playoff spot. So they’re going to want to win the game tonight at the Bell Centre.

Of course, wanting, and actually doing, are two different things.

Carolina has won just one game in their past seven, although the win happened on Saturday against the Jets, which means they’re on a one-game winning streak. This team is missing two goalies, Cam Ward and Dan Ellis, due to injuries, so we might expect coach Kirk Muller to possibly don the pads the way Lester Patrick, coach and general manager of the N.Y. Rangers, did in 1928 against the Montreal Maroons at the Forum.

Montreal also has injuries. Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz have concussions, and Henri Richard and Dickie Moore have arthritis.

Random Notes:

And how did the 44-year old Lester Patrick do against the Maroons? He allowed one goal in regulation time and his team won 2-1 in overtime. This was game two of the Stanley Cup Finals and the Rangers would go on to win it all in the five-game series.

Mind-blowing side note:

Lester Patrick, along with his brother Frank, lived for a while in the Slocan Valley, near Nelson B.C., where they played hockey and helped out at their dad’s sawmill. My daughter lives in the Slocan Valley, and I knew you’d be amazed by this incredible coincidence. And not only that, I once worked in a sawmill which was only about 700 miles from the Slocan Valley. Truly eerie stuff.

Lester

Habs And Leafs

Just like the old days. Habs and Leafs on a Wednesday night. I grew up with this type of thing. But back then, the Leafs were almost good.

Toronto’s in 7th place in the East with 24 points, which is ridiculous. It’s almost March and they’re sort of still in it. Must have something to do with the short season.

Starting tonight, the Leafs begin their annual spring collapse. It’s the way of the world.

Random Notes;

Michael Ryder’s number will be 73, which means Brendan Gallagher, because he’s a snot-nosed rookie, forfeits it and takes on number 11. Previous Habs number 11 guys include, of course, the legendary Scott Gomez, along with Saku Koivu, Kirk Muller, Ryan Walter, Yvon Lambert, Marc Tardif, Rejean Houle and so on, all the way down to Clayton Frechette during the 1912-13 season.

Approximately 73 Habs in all have owned number 11, which is more than any other.

Number 11’s a nice low number and I feel Gally’s lucky to have it. Same with Brandon Prust with number 8. Considering numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 are all hanging from the rafters.

 

 

New Kid On The Block

The Canadiens have hired former player Gerard Gallant as assistant coach Gallant Joins Habs, and another piece falls into place. Whether or not it’s a good piece remains to be seen.

But it’s another in an important line of change, a restructuring of vast proportions. New GM, new assistant GM, new director of player personnel, new coach, new assistant coach, hopefully a new stick boy. With more to come. Pretty soon we won’t recognize anybody. Is Gomez gone yet?

The hiring of Michel Therrien as head coach seems to be the one area where folks are blowing their tops. The majority hate the idea. A guy I work with said to me the other day that surely I can’t be happy with Therrien coming back, that he’s an incompetent hothead. 66% of voters at the Hockey Inside/Out poll said it was a terrible move. Marc Bergevin, who hired Therrien, has been slammed as a guy we first liked and respected and were thrilled to have, and now we see he’s a bum. I don’t think like this though. I’m waiting at least four games before I bitch about anybody.

Of course, if the Canadiens look great and jump out of the gate when the season kicks off, things will be fine and there will be an urgent need to find someone else to kick in the gonads. But if the team falters and slumps, that’s not thunder you hear, it’s a chorus of 66% of poll voters yelling “I told you so,” who knew all along and proved one thing – that Toe Blake was wrong when he said predictions are for gypsies.

Gerard Gallant doesn’t speak French and that might be slammed around for awhile. I’m sure the French media have their guns cocked, ready to aim and fire. Kirk Muller didn’t speak the language either as an assistant coach and was tabbed as the second coming, and most everyone it seemed, wanted Muller to move up to the head job.

He’s still talked about as what could could have been, as the the most brilliant bench boss material to come down the pipes since Scotty Bowman. But the Carolina Hurricanes, with Muller behind the bench, finished 12th of 15 teams in the east, just four points ahead of the Canadiens, and we’ll see if good old Kirk has the magic touch next season. I hope he does. I hope his team ends up just below the Habs.

I’ll be on the front lines in calling for Therrien to be fired if the team blows a tire and becomes as sad or almost as sad as last year’s edition. But for now I’m content with the decision to bring this guy back, and any other moves the team makes. I was at the point where anybody could have been brought in, a peewee coach from Chicoutimi or Rene Levesque’s illegitimate love child, it wouldn’t have mattered, because what we had wasn’t exactly working, which is an understatement, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Pay A Visit To Kirk’s Place

The Habs are in Raleigh tonight to face a team run by the bench boss we all know and love, Kirk Muller. The Canadiens let this guy go, it’s too bad, and although he’s not bilingual, he’s only a six month course away from being so.

Oh well. It’s not the first time our Habs have blundered. And we certainly can’t blame the guy for moving on and landing the head role somewhere else.

I hope Kirk enjoys a long and successful career as a big league head coach, (although his first year at the helm sees him out of the playoffs), and if he wins tonight, good for him. We don’t want the two points anyway, but regardless.

Today, in Raleigh’s NewsObserver.com, there’s a little feature on the Man Who Got Away – Canes Hockey Fans Winning Over Muller

2011 – The Year Of Gomez’s Promise And Other Fine Moments

Another year older and deeper in debt. Etc.

2011 had some fine moments for Habs fans, and unfortunately, some not-so-fine moments. So let’s have a glimpse at what happened in this Year of the Rabbit. And please keep in mind, things aren’t in order here. That would be way too normal.

Carey Price posed with his arms crossed after a win, which upset some and I don’t know why. I thought it was quite creative. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury mimicked Price a week later but alas, it all ended there.

Saku Koivu returned for the first time after being traded to Anaheim, and that was nice. Unfortunately, Saku’s new team won 4-3 in a shootout.

P.K. Subban was selected for the All-Rookie team at the All-Star game in Raleigh. PK’s smile made us smile, and when he put on Jeff Skinner’s jersey in the shootout competition he made us smile even more. At least I smiled. I don’t know about you.

I held half a dozen or so contests in 2011, with people far and wide winning some good shit.

James Wisniewski took a puck in the face in Edmonton, looked like we’d lose him for months, but he was back for the Heritage Classic in Calgary just a few days later. We would eventually lose Wiz anyways when Columbus gave him a zillion dollars. And speaking of the Heritage Classic, Carey Price put on his new facemask that was so weird that little kids were put to bed early so they wouldn’t see it and have nightmares.

Rearguard Brent Sopel played one year with the Habs, and when he was cut loose at the end and not picked up, ended up going to the KHL and is probably slurping borscht as we speak.

My grandson Adam entered the world on February 3rd and will almost certainly play for the Habs in twenty years.

Also in February, Luci and I went to Vancouver to see the Habs beat the Canucks in a terrific game where we had great seats and a wonderful time. And speaking of Vancouver, Gilbert Brule of the Edmonton Oilers was driving in his car with his girlfriend, near the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, and stopped to pick up a hitchhiker who happened to be Bono from the band U2. I just find that as weird as can be.

Boston won the Cup, as you know, and thousands rioted in the Vancouver downtown area. Several dozen are just now on the verge of having their big court appearances and most say they feel bad. I feel bad too. Because the Bruins won the Cup.

We lost assistant coach Kirk Muller to Nashville affiliate Milwaukee Admirals, Boston Pizza changed their name to Montreal Pizza during the playoffs, Bruin Andrew Ference gave the finger to the Bell Centre crowd after scoring a goal, a tortoise named Gerry La Tortue tried to predict games in the Habs-Bruins series and often failed miserably, and Hal Gill signed a one year, 2.25 million dollar contract.

A woman in Vancouver flashed her boobs at San Jose’s Ben Eager while he sat in the penalty box, Winnipeg got an NHL team again – the ex-Atlanta Thrashers, and Luci and I went to Ontario where we hooked up with some great new and old friends and co-workers in both Ottawa and Orillia, enjoyed a luncheon with NHL oldtimers in Toronto, visited my dad in his new old folks home, stayed with my brother, and went to see the old arena in Orillia where the doors were locked.

2011 was the year of the big Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty, which fractured Max’s neck which in turn caused many Bruins fans to laugh and jump with glee. It also allowed Mark Recchi to use his medical knowledge to diagnose the situation and conclude it wasn’t as bad as we were led to believe.

Jean Beliveau turned 80 in 2011, Wayne Gretzky 50, Carey Price 24, and Don Cherry 119.

I had an interview in Puck Daddy and Bruins fans accused me of sounding like a Hab fan.

Andrei Kostitsyn slammed Jacques Martin for playing him improperly, Josh Gorges signed for one year, 2.5 million, Erik Cole also inked for 4 years, 18 million, and Roman Hamrlik went to Washington.

Assistant coach Perry Pearn was let go, and the two Randy’s – Cunneyworth and Ladouceur, joined Martin behind the bench.

Vancouver Giant sensation Brendan Gallagher had a great camp and almost made the Habs, Chris Campoli was added to the blueline corps, and Scott Gomez told us he was embarrassed by his previous season, was sorry, and things would be different this year.

Longtime Canadiens trainer and equipment guy Eddie Palchak passed away, Andrei Markov almost played on the Habs’ California trip but didn’t, Jacques Martin was out and Cunneyworth in, Rocket’s star was stolen from the sidewalk at the Forum, the bilingual coach issue has raised it’s ugly head, and I mistakingly ate some toxic maple syrup and lived to tell about it.

So there you have it. I know I’ve missed a lot, but enough’s enough.

And of course, I wish you all a very splendid New Year. May it be your best year ever.

 

 

 

The Two On The Bread Lines

Would you want either of the recently canned coaches, Paul Maurice or Bruce Boudreau, coaching the Habs?

Because when you look at them, it’s not exactly like bringing in Scotty Bowman or Jacques Lemaire.

Boudreau can’t even be considered an experienced NHL bench boss. Four and a half years behind the bench for the Washington Capitals. Before that, it was 15 years riding buses in the minors and eating Teenburgers, which probably helped make him the round ball of jelly he is today.

He also can’t be considered a winner, although his regular season record is excellent. It’s in the playoffs where he falls short. Four years with the Caps, losing twice in round one and twice in round two. Not spectacular showings considering he had a team many felt to be the best in the east and maybe in all of hockey.

Boudreau of course is a world-class swearer, as we witnessed on HBO’s 24/7. I haven’t heard cursing like that since the days when I would wander into Orillia’s Top Hat billiard room as a young teenager and mingle among some of Central Ontario’s finest thugs and future convicts. But swearing is a non-issue. Toe Blake was banned from the Forum pool hall for his salty language. So if Toe could let loose with expletives, then Bruce can too. (Although maybe some of those scenes on 24/7 could have been sliced for the younger viewing audience).

Anyway, I’m pretty sure there aren’t many coaches out there slated for future sainthood.

Boudreau’s problem, which Montreal doesn’t have, was Alex Ovechkin, who became, like the big star on a peewee team, a sulking child when the coach decided not to play him at certain times, like 60 minutes a game, every game. Ovechkin stopped playing, stopped being one of the two best in the world, felt hard done by and persecuted, and hopefully he still lives with his mom so she can whip up some borscht and dumplings and make him feel better.

The end came fast when Boudreau lost Ovechkin.

It’s also interesting to note that I saw it explained yesterday that it was Kirk Muller, as assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens at the time, who figured out how to stop this flashy Russian by mostly keeping him to the outside, and other teams quickly followed suit. He became predictable and remains predictable now. Ovechkin’s star is fading while Sidney Crosby’s is glistening.

Oh, and maybe I should mention – this Russian, so hard done by, is in the middle of a 13 year, 124 million dollar contract.

Paul Maurice is a much more experienced coach than Boudreau, with 14 plus years under his belt in Hartford, Toronto, and Carolina. He sniffed success just once, taking Carolina to the Cup finals in 2002 before losing 4 games to 1 to Detroit. But again, like Boudreau, there hasn’t been a lot of glorious moments in this coaching career.

He’s a likeable enough fellow, it seems, but his players, like Boudreau’s, stopped playing, even though these guys are paid a king’s ransom for half a year’s work, plus all the free meals they can eat in their home city. It’s a good job. I don’t know about yours but it’s better than mine.

My feeling is the Habs don’t need either of these guys. Get rid of Jacques Martin and promote one of the Randy’s. Or entice a winning coach from elsewhere, using Scott Gomez-like money. We know Molsons has lots of cash. My friends and I have spent a vast fortune on their beer over the years.

And maybe old and retired Sovietski Viktor Tikhonov should go to Washington to help Dale Hunter. Put the fear of the gulag in Ovechkin.

Good, Bad, And Ugly – Habs’ October

October was quite a month, eh?

It began on the 1st when the boys schmucked Tampa Bay 5-1 in preseason play in Quebec. We liked that.

On the 6th, it was a miserable 2-0 loss in Toronto in the first game of the regular season, but three days later, the gang rebounded by ruining Winnipeg’s party with another 5-1 win.

So October began with two wins (one in preseason) and a loss, and I suppose we were okay with that. Maybe slightly concerned with the loss in Toronto and the dismal six and two record in preseason, but we clobbered Winnipeg, didn’t we? 

Unfortunately, the heart of the month became a gnashing of teeth and the call from far and wide to send Jacques Martin to Pinkslipsville. Six straight losses. Andrei Markov still missing in action with no end in sight, and Jaroslav Spacek injured. Mike Cammalleri too. Erik Cole looked like a huge mistake, and assistant coach Perry Pearn got the dreaded word and not Martin.

The power play and penalty kill stunk. Guys like Mr. Reliable, Josh Gorges, were making weird mistakes. Fans were leaving early from the Bell Centre, and we longed for Kirk Muller to come back somehow.

And Scott Gomez? He was there sometimes in the month and sometimes not. It’s not important.

Would they ever look good again? We weren’t sure. What about Subban? His road to superstardom had gone from pavement to gravel. Carey Price was good but it wasn’t enough. Not when you’re a stud like him.

It was a lousy time and a great excuse to drink beer.

But however, October did end nicely.

It began with Yannick Weber tying the game with three seconds left in the first period that got the ball rolling as the Canadiens first downed the Flyers, then struck twice against the Bruins. And October, which is the birthday month of my dad, my brother, my son, myself, my best friend, and several people at work, was salvaged. (Please note – if my math is correct, nine months before October is right around New Year’s Eve. A lot of moms and dads were in a frisky, champagne-soaked mood, don’t you think)?

Erik Cole is getting it together and has become one of our best players. Travis Moen has been a nice surprise, as has David Desharnais. Raphael Diaz should be thanked for his yeoman’s service. Carey Price was voted NHL 1st star of the week. Guys paid to score are starting to score. PK Subban is finding his mojo and as a bonus, became engaged in battle with the Nose That Skates.

And through it all, Max Pacioretty, and then Lars Eller after returning from injury, have played like guys ready to don All-Star jerseys.

The team went from worst in the east to two points out of a playoff spot in a nanosecond. And we heard that Andrei Markov is indeed still alive and could return in November, a month when parents get frisky because there’s nothing else to do except write early Christmas cards.

Now it’s almost a six-day rest. It’s been years since Saturday when the Habs last played, and players’ babies will be toilet-trained by the time the team plays again, in Ottawa on Friday. Then it averages out to a game almost every second day after that, including one next Tuesday when the red-hot Edmonton Oilers, with all those young guns, come to town.

But until Friday, may the practices be sharp, may the bruises heal, and may the team not forget how they won their last three games. We want no more of the misery that so much of October gave us. It wasn’t a great month, even though it’s the anniversary of moms and dads everywhere getting frisky on New Year’s Eve. 

 

Kirk Muller Makes His Move

After five years as assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, Kirk Muller is no longer in the fold. This nice guy, whom my wife has a crush on, has become the new head coach of the American Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals, an affiliate of the Nashville Predators.

I don’t suppose anyone’s surprised. Rumours and speculation flew around for months about the possibility of Muller making some sort of move, although the recent word was that he was on his way to the Chicago Wolves, the new Vancouver affiliate, which of course didn’t happen.

So long, Kirk, and good luck. We know you’ll do well, and we know we’ll see you sooner than later as an NHL bench boss. Just wish it was as Montreal’s bench boss.