We were all told that Michel Therrien had matured. That he was not the hot head that led the Montreal Canadiens the first time around and partially cost them a playoff series. That he was a new person.
We were lied to.
Therrien is the same hot head. He’s the same disciplinarian who has his pets and the people he can’t wait to see fail. He’s turning legitimate talent on this Canadiens team into nothing. He’s taking everything that’s special about this team and making it play his style. It’s almost as if he’s trying to prove a point.
Last night Therrien was up to his old tricks again, benching P.K. Subban throughout the overtime period along with Alex Galchenyuk and Daniel Briere. He played Douglas Murray twice in overtime. The only thing that didn’t surprise me is that Dale Weise or George Parros got a shift.
It’s simple psychology. If you discipline every mistake, then people will try to avoid making another mistake. However, that’s not what you want from a hockey player like Subban. When Subban – or anyone – plays to not make a mistake, it’s not natural to them. And guess what? They end up making mistakes anyways.
So congratulations, Mike – can I call you Mike? – You’ve come to do what no other person in the league can do – neutralize Subban. You could also say that he’s done the same thing with Lars Eller, and if he’s not careful another young center – Galchenyuk – can go down that road too.
Briere has been there, done that. He just doesn’t care. Play him with Parros? He scores. Play him less than Parros? He goes out in the next period and scores. The fact that Briere has been quiet and as productive as he’s been – regardless of what you thought about the signing – is a testament to his attitude.
Therrien seems convinced that the best way to play defence is without the puck. That is wrong. But what that reinforces is that you can’t make mistakes with the puck. Did Subban make a mistake? Yes. Did he deserve to sit out? Absolutely not. Did Therrien ever do this to Kris Letang? I doubt he did.
Did he give the Eller or Briere treatment to David Desharnais? No. Well, maybe for a shift or a period. Nothing more.
It’s one thing to lead your team with discipline. It’s another to have unequal treatment of your players. This Montreal Canadiens team isn’t constructed that badly. But Therrien is making it worse with the way he is using his key parts – and worse – making his key parts worse.
You don’t slow down your race car in the straightaways when it has trouble taking a corner. You fix the problem in the corner. That’s what Therrien doesn’t realize. By making P.K. Subban play safe, he’s no longer P.K. Subban. You take the mistakes – that every player makes – with the outstanding that most players can only dream of.
But no. Michel Therrien just has his team dump it in.