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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 coaching staff.
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.