When a team is facing failure, especially a hockey team based in Montreal, with the first signs, a finger is always pointed at the coach. Sometimes fairly. More often, not so much. It’s the way it is.
As the Canadiens wallow in their two and a half month losing streak, Michel Therrien has been under constant fire from about 60 percent of the city’s population and 75 percent of it’s talk show hosts.
That was before the Subban incident Wednesday night in Denver. Now. if you were take a poll, it would show a landslide vote in favour of jetisoning the head coach, preferably before the game against the Flyers Friday.
The Subban incident is a coach-killer on so many levels and Therrien can only blame himself for the firestorm that only he created.
With just over two minutes remaining in a tie game, going for the win Subban carried the puck toward his off wing boards looking to circle and bring the puck deep into the Avalanche zone. Untouched by his check Mikhail Grigorenko, he fell and Grigorenko started a dog’s breakfast sequence that led to the winning goal with 2:02 remaining in the game. The natural reaction everywhere was, if Subban hadn’t fallen this never could have happened. Fair enough. Or if the Canadiens reaction to the Avalanche breakout which was three-on-three had been better and Max Pacioretty hadn’t allowed the aging Jarome Iginla to to outskate him to the net, it might not have happened either. In any case, stuff does happen in hockey games.
At that point, with a game still on the line, Therrien took leave of his coaching senses. With his team trailing a goal, he nailed his number one point producer to the bench through the final two minutes of the game presumably as punishment for falling down. Then post game Therrien singled out Subban as the reason for the loss, calling what happened “a selfish play” on his part.
That’s only the beginning.
Friday morning Louis Jean of TVA Sports started a rumour that the Canadiens are entertaining trade offers for Subban which in today’s social media/blogger world can make any questionably sourced 40-character twitter feed to be absolute truth in minutes.
And the predictable result was the ridiculous Friday morning dressing room scene you see pictured to the left as Subban was forced into the position of trying to make sense out of chaos started by the ill-considered rant of his coach.
As usual, Subban handled it with aplomb and diplomacy. About the play itself and Therrien’s criticism he was clear he thought his coach was wrong, “I’ve probably made that play 1000 times this season,” Subban said. “I’m not going to go and look over that play again because I know what happened. I lost an edge.”
Therrien started all of this because he lost his cool at a key time in a hockey game. At the same time, he probably lost a good percentage of support in a dressing room which is unerstandably fragile at this time.
There is absolutely no sense firing Therrien at this time of the season. To what end? To finish 22nd in the league standings instead of their current 23rd?
In his defense of Therrien in late January, Marc Bergevin said “the entire coaching staff will finish the season.” After that……..
Therrien’s final word. “It’s not because it was PK. I want you to trust me on that one.”
Sorry coach. Can’t do it. And I think a large percentage of your dressing room feels the same way.
One more time, here’s the play that started this mess –