The Montreal Canadiens continued a busy day today as they announced they signed head coach Michel Therrien to an extension that takes him until the 2018-19 season.
If the extension wasn’t a surprise, the term may be as he may have the most commitment of any coach in the league. However, the term is really insignificant as if he proves to struggle, it’s not like the Molson’s have to worry about paying him. However, the long contract does mean Therrien will have a longer leash than some would hope.
I was not shy to hide my criticism of some of Therrien’s decisions throughout the year, but a lot of those were rectified in the playoffs. I thought he had great decision making in terms of roster construction. Perhaps the only puzzling moves were playing Douglas Murray and Travis Moen instead of Nathan Beaulieu and Ryan White against Boston.
However, he was able to get the Canadiens to the third round where he seemed to be outcoached by Alain Vigneault. He seemed unable to generate any offence, but a lot of that could be the players being fatigued.
One thing is for certain: the Canadiens need to abandon their dump and chase system to a more secure possession system. They took a nose dive in that department this season despite improvement in other areas.
Another interesting thing to look for is who Therrien will get to replace Gerard Gallant if he ends up getting a head coaching job, most likely with the Florida Panthers. It is reported that he, not Dan Bylsma, is the favourite for the job and Gallant was one of the loudest voices in the Canadiens coaching staff.
I’m willing to keep an open mind with this move. Therrien showed growth over the season despite a very odd regular season with his decisions. However, the pressure is now on Therrien as he has raised the bar as to what is expected from this team. If he doesn’t meet that bar, I doubt he sees the 2018 season.