Monday, 25 January 2016

Michel Therrien, his team mired in a horrid slump, comes under attack. Well, more strident attack.

I came across this gem on social media the other day:
“I do not understand the adulation for Therrien by some here…”
This is where hyperbole meets untruth. I’m not picking on this person in particular, but it’s common to overstate the adversary’s position to make it more untenable.

Overwhelmingly, there are no great fans of Michel Therrien around. The announcement of his hire was met with dismay and unease by most, there was no great cheering from the grandstands.

What did happen though is a significant portion of the fanbase decided to give him a chance, the benefit of the doubt. And by and large he’s done very well, taking a team that was a bottom-feeder under Randy Cunneyworth and taking it to the top of the standings. He changed the atmosphere in the dressing room, installed a team work ethic and a climate of accountability.

We worried that he’d lose his marbles during games, or in post-game scrums, whereas in fact he’s been calm and in control, kept his emotions in check, and has been mostly supportive during difficult times, trotting out his adversity bromide. He’s kept a loose leash on the boys, giving them rest days after losses for example, when some of the more excitable faction wanted bag skates and fire and brimstone.

And now we hit a critical juncture in his tenure, and those members who think he’s as good as gone now want their pound of flesh, want me and my faction members to offer up an apology, that they were right all along.

Except they weren’t right. To constantly, personally attack the coach, despite his very tangibly positive performance, often due to his cultural background, was way offside. Some observers would offer insightful critiques, but unfortunately in my eyes it would get lost in the churn of the “clueless” references, and the ‘inability to adapt’. They all started to blend in.

One critic on a few months back hammered the head coach on the fact that ‘his’ powerplay last season was putrid, yet he refused or was unable to adapt, to adjust. I replied with, off the top of my head, seven or eight adjustments that were made in season to try to break the powerplay out of its funk. Unfortunately, he never replied with a “Well, that’s true, those adjustments were made, and it’s too bad nothing seemed to work. I only wish that…” You know, never continued the conversation, he just went in search of other posts where facts didn’t collide with his opinions.

And speaking of the powerplay, this year, when it did well early, the negative nellies were backslapping each other, how golly, that Mike Ramsay was really having a positive effect on things. I weighed in a couple of times, asking if we were all in agreement that Mike Ramsay was going to receive all the credit, take all the responsibility, in his part-time consultant role, and none of it was going to go to full-time Assistant Coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault, newly installed as in charge of the PP, replacing Dan Lacroix. I received nothing but crickets in response.

Now that the PP is again stuck in the mud, now, finally, the negative nellies are in agreement, the culprit is Michel Therrien. Always was. No one else has his fingerprints on this. Michel Therrien is stifling P.K., and making Andrei old, and Nate’s shot downy soft. No one’s bringing up Mike Ramsay now, no way no how.

So yeah, about your pound of flesh, and about how you were right, that Michel Therrien was going to get fired, that he should get fired, that’s the easiest prediction in the world to make, it’s trite to do so, with that whole ‘coaches are hired to be fired’ mantra.

To call for Michel Therrien’s dismissal, and then crow and bask in the knowledge that you were right all along during this tough losing streak, is like all those who’ve been saying for years that Keith Richards is going to die, he has to. Eventually, you’ll be ‘right’, but in another, more accurate way, you were dead wrong. He outlasted your projections since the 70’s. Keith Richards is going to die, but not before David Bowie and Glenn Frey.

So I’ll see your Michel Therrien, and raise you a Glen Gulutzan and Dallas Eakins and Randy Carlyle and John Tortorella and Alain Vigneault and Kirk Muller and Mike Johnston and …

As I've written before:
The thing is, I don’t even like Michel Therrien. I like Marc Bergevin, and Brendan Gallagher, and Carey Price, and Russell Wilson, and D.J. Fluker. I don’t know them, but I like them. And I don’t ‘like’ Michel Therrien.
Michel Therrien is gruff, ill-spoken, doesn’t present well. His laugh annoys me. The way he sticks his tongue out when he chortles at his own witticisms. The way he sometimes blunders when he speaks, overstating things (“My captain was crying in my arms”). His slicked-back hair. His little gut, and the way he wears his warmups a little tight.
I sometimes wonder idly how we can get Guy Boucher back in the fold, as our emergency option, when the wheels come off, inevitably. I want LHJMQ coaches in the system, in Hamilton/St. John’s, in Wheeling. In the revived Canadiens Junior (it will happen, trust me, when the new arena is built in Laval). De la relève, en cas.
When Geoff Molson cleaned house, then hired Marc Bergevin, I campaigned for Patrick Roy, and posted negatively, fearfully about the possibility of Michel Therrien being hired. I don’t remember a single post on HIO advocating that he should be the next head coach.
And yet, grudgingly, he’s won me over, proven himself again and again, making tough decisions, getting the team to respond. It’s not like I’m running around snapping my suspenders about his great results, I actually expected much, much less, and said so, openly.
And I find myself now being a Michel Therrien defender. Not because I like him. I don’t. I wouldn’t want to be paired with him at the golf tournament, I’d rather be with the Dream Weaver, or Michel Lacroix.
I defend him against intolerant, unfair attacks on him personally, his intellect, his lack of fair play. It’s ridiculous the accusations he faces up to on HIO. I shudder to think what it’s like on TSN message boards.

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