Thursday, February 18, 2016

Therrien's Individualistic Mistake

Another Habs loss has brought with it a new storm of attention and controversy to this team. The room that was so strong in winning times, is no more immune to division when losses pile up than anyone else, it seems.

Up to this point, I have been giving Therrien and the team, quite honestly, the benefit of the doubt. I believe they are trying and probably performing to the level that their talent allows and finding out just how much losing one key player can hurt in a league with formidable parity.

Last night was a bit of a final straw for me. Certainly with Therrien. Never mind that I watched him coach a team throughout a third period that lacked the lustre a playoff-hungry team should have; what triggered my disdain came post game. Subban had just tripped in the offensive zone losing the puck to a 21-year-old rookie with 18 points, a play that led some seconds later to a rather pretty winning goal for the Avalanche. Michel Therrien, while continuing to delude himself (or trying to delude us) was talking about what he liked about the game, how the Canadiens had played a good game. Except for one "indivialistic" play.


This simply was not true. The team played alright, but this game was a toss up at that point. A team playing 0.200 hockey and hoping for better can't look to 50/50 affairs with other non-playoff teams as good games, not on a multi-game losing streak. It was progress, but not a good game. They let up two leads and yet again failed to score enough to matter.

The team played badly compared to what should be expected by a coach in his position. he was protecting his team.

All that is fair enough, and we take it for what it is, but then Therrien pinches in at the blue line in a vain attempt to save his career in the NHL. Instead of taking blame or laying it in the realm of luck, he lays it squarely at the feet of one player. And this player is not just Lucas Lessio. This player is the team's best player, perhaps its only truly good player at all. Therrien blames Subban for being individualistic.

This to me is selfish to the extreme. He preaches togetherness and team, yet creates discord and division. And this is in front of the press. We can only imagine now what might have been spewed from under the angry brow during a post-game locker-room rant.

For a coach with little else going for him (total lack of creativity, total inability to move away from favourites), this declaration is a final straw. For someone who loves irony, it will be satisfying if the comment that stubborn Michel thought would deflect attention from him would be the one to bring his ultimate demise in Montreal.

On Subban

To comment on Subban's play, I will say this. Very unfortunate, but I agree with the player. He was trying to do the right thing. And Subban is probably the player with the best edgework I have ever witnessed. It was probably fair of him to think he wouldn't fall -- this wasn't Jason Ward.

Furthermore, Subban is definitely the best player on the Canadiens right now, and definitely either the top or top two player in the system for this team and likely to play for this team in the next 5 years. in other words, he is simply indispensable to the team, the owner, the GM, the coach and the other core players.

Presumably, if Therrien doesn't like Subban he would see him traded for someone of equal value. A very unlikely scenario. Tons of cap issues, never mind finding a player of equal value...

Trading a coach though, that can be done in an instant. There are many available instants before the next game. It can't happen too soon now. 


  1. I have said for FOUR years this was the wrong hire and we will pay for this mistake for years to come if we don't resolve it shortly. MT is destroying the locker room on his way out to his french radio job and has helped stymy the development of the next generation and will make it hard to get any free agents to want to come to Montreal for a while. He has hurt this franchise as much as any coach in the last 20 years and that's saying a lot. I could go on but I don't want to say things here that are not fit to print.

  2. Imagine the foresight by Mark Bergevin: hire a coach who was viscerally critical of Subban on provincial (in Quebec's fantasy world, "national") TV, RDS's antichambre...and to not think it would come back to bite?

    Now, I'm no social justice warrior, far from it, but the question of race and Quebecois zenophobic attitudes need to be again raised. I've witnessed these kinds of attitudes before, firsthand, in both a work and sport context, and it isn't pretty.

    I wonder if it's even possible to get a French speaking coach who isn't a "good old boy"? Unclear.

    1. "the question of race and Quebecois zenophobic attitudes need to be again raised"


      It's just a coach mishandling his team and messing up his post-game interview. There's no race issue here, nor is there a language issue. If there's a xenophobic attitude at the moment, I'm afraid to say it's yours.

    2. "I know you are but what am I" is not an argument.

      Also, calling out endemic racism in Quebec is not zenophobic as I am from Quebec...

    3. But where is the racism in the Subban/Therrien issue?

      Also it's Xenophobic. Not Zenophobic.

      Is this the new Lions in Winter? Really guys?

    4. I think you both have a point. There are xenophobic attitudes in Quebec (as everywhere), and if you watch late night hockey debates, you'd be excused for thinking they characterized the province.

      But Therrien does not dislike Subban as a person or for his ethnicity, what he dislikes is players who are creative. And worse creative against his orders.

    5. (Previously known as Anonymous)

      Yeah right. He'd have a point if it made sense to even talk about xenophobia. There was no indication of racism, not even a bit, on this issue. Now that it seems to be over, we have the luxury to look back at things and I still can't see any form of racism.

      I appreciate your attempt to appease the situation although I believe that comments like these are poisonous to any kind of conversation and should not be tolerated. Even though you might claim the website does not necessarily approve of its users' opinions, the fact that you allow such opinions to exist with no moderation whatsoever when they are clearly off-topic AND quite possibly xenophobic in nature makes you approve them one way or another, on a lesser degree perhaps, but still...

      And yes I do believe it was xenophobic because, otherwise, why would you see racism when there's no racism at all? Being a proud Canadian, having lived in Québec all my life and being 100% bilingual, I fail to understand how someone could share my background and yet aim to divide people in categories in order to make such statements. I'm always read to talk about politics, but I honestly prefer to do so on a politics blog, and if I talk about politics on a hockey blog, there's gotta be a pretty darn good reason to do so.

      Of course you can always raise the flag of freedom of speech - a flag which is constantly stained by those who abuse it nowadays, especially on internet - but I can also use my freedom to visit other Canadiens blog where people prefer to focus on ice hockey instead of ethnic division and below the belt politics...

    6. I think that this debate is tying us in knots. I agree we should focus on the Habs.

  3. I think it's important to know that the Lions of Winter welcomes healthy debates from all readers who wish to do so on our forum (within reason), but our readers views don't necessarily reflect the views of the writers here. Heck, there's a good portion of the time where the writers don't even speak for each other.

    I think it's also important to know, especially for those of us outside of Quebec who are Canadiens fans, that Montreal is truly a bilingual city. You can get by as an anglophone with little difficulty but as I found out when I went into Ma Poule Mouillee (fantastic poutine if you ever get the chance), not everyone does. Remember Quebec is the last bastion of the French language floating on a cloud of English over a sea of Spanish and, rightly or wrongly, the province has taken measures to see to that the French language is preserved.

    But we're not talking about the French culture of Quebec (although to separate the Canadiens from the culture of Montreal is like trying to separate heat from fire). We're talking about a coach and a player. Michel Therrien vs. PK Subban. This doesn't need to be looked at with ramifications of French vs. English. This isn't a political statement by Lions in Winter. It is a cry for our beloved hockey club to make a decision that is long over due as further proof of its correctness has reared it's ugly head.


    Without a doubt, Michel's bilingualism was a prerequisite for his job and with better anglophone coaches out there that certainly irritates fans outside of Quebec, but again, that's not what this is about. Not really.

    I truly believe that any moron could coach with Carey Price in net, playing as well as he has the past two seasons. The pregame speech could literally be to go and have fun and let Carey do his job.

    It's coaching without Carey that's the trick. We're not a Stanley Cup team without Carey, not really anyway, but that's okay. Look at Pittsburgh this year with a struggling Crosby. Where is Washington without Ovechkin, or Chicago without Toews and Kane? Great players make good teams great and Price is a great player.

    But we're still a good team though, far better than our recent record would suggest. The thing is, you can't play the same way without your best player and starting goaltender.

    At the beginning of the year, Crosby wasn't playing well and Pittsburgh wasn't winning. They replaced their coach, Crosby started scoring, Pittsburgh started winning, and now they're a playoff team.

    At the beginning of the year, Getzlaf and Perry weren't scoring and Anaheim wasn't winning. The coach changed his style of coaching, Anaheim started winning and now they're a playoff team.

    What did we get? Lectures about puck luck, calling out our best player, and sticking to the game plan. To expect a different outcome by repeating the same tactic is a sign of insanity.

    This is just a bad coach, with bad coaching methods and bad player management skills making a good team bad. This is also bad foresight and decision making ability from our GM to sit by and do nothing. At this point it's also a bad decision by the owner to not step in and demand a change.

    As fans, our devout loyalty to the Montreal Canadiens are being taken advantage of. The Canadiens' management know that we will fill the Bell Centre regardless of what they do (or in this case, don't do) this season.

    It is time for a change. We deserve better.