Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Time to replace Sylvain Lefebvre as coach of the Canadiens' AHL team?

Okay, I’ll come out and say it, if only to prove to those who accuse me of being a sunny-side-up cheerleader for the Habs, that I can cast a critical eye and find areas that can be improved:

Is it time to replace Sylvain Lefebvre as Head Coach of the Bulldogs? Three seasons now that he’s been in charge, and he’s missed the playoffs every time.

Marc Bergevin and Martin Lapointe have in the past defended him, saying he was charged with developing players, not winning AHL championships, and Michel Therrien has lauded the preparation of some of the youngsters who come up from Hamilton, but it’s still a results-based business. I know the Bulldogs are a development team, their prime reason is to groom players for the Canadiens, not necessarily to win games, but at some point, being competitive and getting playoff experience for the farmhands is part of that equation, no?

With a move to St-John’s next season, and a probable further move to Laval after that, is the time right to consider a change?

How about Guy Boucher, who’s coaching in Europe now? He could see it as a move backwards, to return to the Canadiens farm team, but financial compensation can overcome that stigma, and he’d be bench strength, for whenever the Michel Therrien touch grows stale. We know how much it can be a headache to have a pool of French-speaking candidates to choose from for the Head Coach job, how about having one parked in the AHL as a spare tire, ready to be pulled out of the trunk at a moment’s notice?

Or does that de-stabilize the hierarchy? Does that make Michel Therrien more of a lame-duck?

I gave Sylvain Lefebvre a mulligan twice now for missing the playoffs, but I’m growing impatient. Part of the experience for the farmhands should be some playoff battles. We remember how the Voyageurs and the Sherbrooke Canadiens would win championships or battle to the end, and the next season send a flock of young players who were battle-hardened, ready to fold into the Canadiens lineup. Missing out on AHL playoff experience is a detriment to our prospects’ development.

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