Being a head coach in a hockey market like Montreal isn’t easy when times are good, so imagine how hard it can get when the team finishes near the bottom of the standings.
In his second stint as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens, Michel Therrien has had success. From 2011-12 to 2014-15, Therrien helped guide the Canadiens to a 125-64-23 record. But the “honeymoon” came to a crashing halt this season.
Montreal got off to a 9-0-0 start, but injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher derailed the Canadiens’ season.
With Price and Gallagher on the shelf, the Canadiens went through a miserable stretch in December. From Dec. 3 through Dec. 26, the Canadiens played 10 games and won just one those contests. Things didn’t get much better from there.
Without the defending Hart Trophy winner at their disposal, it’s normal that the Canadiens would dip a little bit, but the lack of solutions from the coaching staff was concerning.
The Habs have made plenty of changes to their roster after last season’s disappointment. Gone are Lars Eller and P.K. Subban and in come Shea Weber, Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw.
The Canadiens also added Kirk Muller as an associate coach, but the rest of the coaching staff remained intact.
“Given what we went through in the last six months, to panic and change everything, I’m not ready to do that,” Bergevin said in April, per CBC.ca. “I’ll look at every aspect of the organization to see where we can improve, but to turn everything upside down? No.
“Last year we had 110 points. I’m not ready to throw people out the door based on what happened this year. Nobody is walking away with a clean slate, but we have to break down what happened. Michel learned a lot. We all learned. We’re not happy. It’s my job to address this team moving forward, but Michel will be behind the bench on opening night.”
With plenty of off-season change and the return of Carey Price, there are no more excuses for Therrien. As loyal as GM Marc Bergevin has been to his head coach during this rough patch, don’t be surprised if a slow start costs Therrien his job.
Therrien has already been fired twice before (Montreal and Pittsburgh), so this could be his last head coaching gig in the NHL.
The pressure is definitely on.