The IceCaps ended their year on a positive note as they won their final game of the season while making a big impact in the playoff race. Meanwhile, the Habs had their annual end-of-season press conference. Marc Bergevin’s decisions, or indecisions, is the focus of my Final Thought.
Though St. John’s isn’t playoff bound, they did manage to make an impact in the postseason hunt as their victory over Hartford in the final game of the season cost the Wolf Pack the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
News and Notes:
– Prior to their final game, the IceCaps announced their award winners for the season. They were as follows:
Rookie of the Year: Michael McCarron
Hardest Working Player: Josiah Didier
Man of the Year: Zach Fucale
Top Defenceman: Morgan Ellis
Team MVP: Gabriel Dumont
Fans Choice Award: Eddie Pasquale
– A grand total of 51 different players suited up for St. John’s. By comparison, the 2014-15 Hamilton Bulldogs had a total of 39 players.
– Bud Holloway finished tied for 7th in AHL points, tied with Providence rookie Austin Czarnik (whose older brother had a cup of coffee with Hamilton in 2013-14). His 61 points are the highest for a player on a Montreal AHL affiliate since David Desharnais had 78 back in 2009-10.
– Charles Hudon finished tied for 4th overall in goals with a career best 28. That’s the highest goal output by a Montreal AHL’er since Brock Trotter had 36 back in 2009-10. Coincidentally, his 28 tallies tied him with Eric Tangradi who was a member of the Bulldogs last year.
– Lines from last game:
Hudon – McCarron- Scherbak
Friberg – de la Rose – Dumont
Addison – Audette – Holloway
Bozon – MacMillan – Gregoire
Hanley – Dietz
Johnston – Ellis
Bourque – Didier
|20||Jacob de la Rose||2||1||0||+1||2||0|
Goals: Charles Hudon (28)
Assists: Bud Holloway (42)
Points: Bud Holloway (61)
+/-: Daniel Carr (+7)
PIMS: Michael McCarron (91)
Shots: Charles Hudon (181)
Marc Bergevin’s press conference last Monday did little to fan the flames spewing from Montreal’s fan base. In fact, it wound up making things worse. A lot of frustration stemmed from his decision to retain Michel Therrien but I can live with that. I’m not as quick as many to call for a coach to be fired; I like when teams show some patience and not just change coaches every year or two (hello, Ottawa). We saw this year with Anaheim that there can be benefits to sticking with a coach on the hot seat. Boston’s doing the same with Claude Julien which I think is the right call as well.
While I don’t take issue with keeping Therrien as much as some do, I do have concerns with the fact that the entire coaching staffs for Montreal and St. John’s are staying intact, save for Craig Ramsay who wasn’t really around a whole lot anyways. Yes, injuries at both levels this year provide somewhat of a reasonable explanation for their respective struggles but that shouldn’t absolve everyone of their failures entirely. We know the flaws with Montreal’s assistant coaches that aren’t named Stephane Waite. We know that Sylvain Lefebvre and his staff can’t put together a successful season in the AHL (though apparently winning doesn’t matter down there, a notion I wholeheartedly disagree with Bergevin about).
I’m not saying that they should have fired everyone not named Therrien (or everyone including him). But a change or two to bring in some fresh ideas and fresh voices would certainly have been justifiable based on the results and worthwhile at the same time. If you’re of the mindset that Therrien’s message may be growing stale soon (if it wasn’t already), a new coach or two at the NHL level could help change that or at least slow it down from happening. A new assistant coach that could get it in Lefebvre’s head that playing leading scorers in the bottom six is a bad idea would be a great asset and clearly no one down there currently can do that.
There’s a very fine line that Bergevin is walking right now, one that’s between loyalty and stubbornness. I can justify in my head that Bergevin is being loyal with Therrien, a coach under which the Habs have had success before this past year, by giving him another chance with a hopefully healthier and improved roster. I’m not Therrien’s biggest fan by any stretch but I can appreciate the rationale there. Keeping the status quo with every other full-time coach is another story though. The struggles (and failures) with them have existed long enough to know that this is not a flawless bunch by any stretch of the imagination. We know that Bergevin had a huge hand in picking these assistants and not doing anything to try to improve on even one of them feels more like stubbornness than loyalty. It’s a very fine line he’s walking; here’s hoping he picked the right side to walk on.