As we all know, there wasn’t a whole lot of player turnover in the offseason
as only three new players were signed via free agency. Interestingly
enough, there were more changes on the coaching staff than free agent
acquisitions as no fewer than four new coaches will be working with the Habs
this season, led by Michel Therrien. Here is a closer look at Montreal’s
Head Coach – Michel Therrien
In my books, the most surprising offseason move was his re-hiring, I honestly
didn’t think Bergevin was seriously considering him. The 49 year old
returns to the team to hopefully improve upon his career .500 points percentage
with the club (his record in his first stint was 77-77-36). Therrien also
spent parts of four seasons (two full and two partial) with the Penguins from
2005-06 to 2008-09 before being replaced by current Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma.
In total, his record with the Pens was 135-105-32 highlighted by a Stanley Cup
Finals appearance in 2008.
Therrien is known as a fiery and demanding coach, one who holds his players
accountable. After the struggles of last season, I don’t think there are
many fans who are going to be unhappy with these particular attributes.
However, he also can let his emotions get the best of him and shows little
hesitation to use the media to call out a player. Tactically, there are
mixed reviews on his abilities. A new voice and direction was needed, time
will tell if he was the correct selection.
Assistant Coach – Gerard Gallant
Therrien’s first hire was bringing on the former gritty NHL’er with nearly
700 games of experience. Gallant has a quality coaching record having
coached at the junior, AHL, and NHL levels. The past three seasons were
spent with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL (where Nathan Beaulieu played in
junior) where his worst postseason result was losing in the league finals.
His regular season record with the team was a stunning 151-34-9.
Gallant’s pro experiences haven’t been quite as successful, unfortunately.
He spent parts of six years with Columbus, three as an assistant and three as
head coach (two of those being partial campaigns). In those six years, the
Blue Jackets made the playoffs precisely zero times. As the bench boss,
his record with them was 56-76-4-6. His last stint behind an NHL bench
came in 2007-08 and 2008-09 with the New York Islanders – they never made the
postseason with him as a coach either. Suffice it to say, he’s more than
due to have his first NHL playoff experience as a coach. Gallant will be
responsible for the forwards on Therrien’s staff.
Assistant Coach – J.J. Daigneault
Of the Habs’ coaching staff, Daigneault is the only one who does not have any
NHL coaching experience. He spent the last six seasons working for the New
York Rangers’ farm team as a defenceman coach, which is the role he will hold in
Montreal. Several of the blueliners he coached have gone on to be regulars
in the NHL, including Corey Potter, Daniel Girardi, Michael Sauer, Matt Gilroy,
Ryan McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto. While with Hartford/Connecticut
(their farm team changed names along the way), his teams made the playoffs in
five of his six years.
At the very least, the former NHL defenceman has experience with the Montreal
market. Not only is he a Montreal native, he also played over 400 games in
the bleu, blanc, et rouge.
Assistant Coach – Clement Jodoin
The phrase "What’s old is new again" doesn’t just apply to Therrien.
Jodoin returns for his second stint as an assistant coach and both times he will
have worked with the new bench boss. This time around though his role will
be different as he will be the teams’ ‘eye in the sky’ during games instead of
being behind the bench. He has held a few titles with Montreal – assistant
for five seasons, Director of Player Development and scout for one season, as
well as Head Coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2011-12, his most recent job.
Jodoin’s reputation is primarily that he is a good teacher. On a team
that has some blossoming young talent and more youth in the pipeline, this
should be quite helpful.
Assistant Coach – Pierre Groulx
The lone on-ice coaching holdover from last season, Groulx will begin his
fourth season as the Habs’ goalie coach. Previously, he has worked where
former Habs’ coach Jacques Martin did with Ottawa and Florida. He is also
responsible for the pre-game scouting reports on opposing netminders and
demonstrated last season that he can take on a larger role, being both the eye
in the pressbox and helping to run the forwards late last season.
For those wondering where last years’ coaches are now, Jacques Martin remains
with the Habs in an advisory capacity/part-time pro scout. Randy
Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur, who were let go shortly after Therrien’s
hiring, remain unemployed while Perry Pearn, let go early last season, is now an
Assistant Coach with Winnipeg. Larry Carriere, who served as an assistant
for part of last season, remains with the team as one of its Assistant GM’s.