Last night (02/17), the Montreal Canadiens suffered yet another defeat this season, this time at the hands of the Colorado Avalanche. In the words of head coach, Michel Therrien, “it’s too bad an individual mistake cost us the game“. PK Subban lost the puck and Avs scored, so to punish the star defenseman he was benched for the last few minutes of the game, and in the post-game scrimmage his coach threw him under the bus. (Nevermind that Subban is the team’s point leader and has been involved in 61.3% of the team’s goals). Now this is not the first time Therrien has attributed the team’s poor form on individual players. Indeed, it may be the case that some players just aren’t cutting it and you can rip them to shreds for that in private, but in the public eye you ought to take the loss as a team, as a unit, because that’s what you are. Or at least what you’re supposed to be.
The team started the season in a blaze of glory, their best in franchise history, then they lost Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher to injury and it’s been a slippery slope from there. Let’s be real – you weren’t winning because of Price, he was the only thing that stopped you from losing! The team is lacking in offensive prowess but these problems can’t be easily solved when Therrien is reluctant to provide rookies an opportunity, demonstrates poor utilization of players like Galchenyuk and favors Weise and Desharnais. He has already shown a terrible response following Galchenyuk’s girlfriend assaulting him by announcing “he’ll learn”. (This post goes into it in more detail). Therrien’s public treatment of players runs the risk of him being shut out of the dressing room as Darryl Sutter was by the LA Kings. When speaking of Lars Eller, the coach had this to say:
“To be on top of his game, he has to be responsible defensively. I trust Plekanec, I trust Desharnais.”
The coach recently had the team do suicide sprints on the ice to send a message. What message? That you are an incompetent coach? That you’re stubborn as hell? These are professional athletes whose fitness should be no issue, but suicides are awful and clearly Therrien is using it as a form of punishment. Let’s not focus on our terrible powerplay, instead you can do something unproductive as punishment. The message is clear: Winning doesn’t matter, the points don’t matter, me being in charge matters. A coach should be in charge and respected, but respect is earned. I would argue that the team’s cohesiveness will have taken a big hit this season, but when your coach is coming out and attacking individual players in public, maybe they are all working and hoping for his firing.
The only thing I #BlameSubban for is the fact the Habs aren’t dead last in the league. He’s saved your asses over and over again, is met with racist crap constantly, shows great humility despite his coach’s treatment, and is an overall wonderful human.