As things continue to go south in Montreal it’s time to clear house and fire coach Michel Therrien. Here’s who we think should take over.
Things are not good in Montreal. After a 9-0 start to the season the Canadiens have been one of the worst teams in the NHL. They lost arguably the best player in the world, goalie Carey Price, to an injury and he may not return this season.
As the losses have piled up things have gotten tense on and off the ice. It all came to a head Wednesday night when coach Michel Therrien benched and publicly called out superstar defenseman P.K. Subban.
On Thursday, a report surfaced suggesting the unthinkable — the Canadiens may be looking to trade Subban.
As we discussed on Thursday’s THN Podcast, Therrien is the real problem and needs to be fired.
So who would be a suitable replacement? Here are some suggestions:
Who’s the only coach to lead Canada to a world junior gold medal in the past seven tries? Benoit Groulx. But that’s far from the only thing on the man’s resume. Groulx has won three QMJHL titles as coach of the Gatineau Olympiques and been to the final one other time in 11 years there. In the middle, he helmed the AHL’s Rochester Americans for two seasons, so he has pro experience as well. Most important for me though is the way scouts talk about him. Anytime a potential draft prospect from Gatineau is discussed, scouts give extra points for players who are given heavy workloads by Groulx – it’s a sign that the kids work hard defensively and can take on new duties. The opposite is true for players dealt away by the Olympiques – as in, hmmm, he couldn’t play for Groulx; that’s troubling.
The Habs have already seen first-hand what Groulx can do for their youngsters, since Montreal prospect Martin Reway saw his game take off during his time with Gatineau. Could he work his magic with a crop of underachievers at the NHL level? I say it’s time to find out. (Ryan Kennedy)
Crawford’s name comes up often when there are coaching vacancies, but maybe it’s the Canadiens who actually take a shot and bring him in. He’s spent the past four seasons doing solid work with Zurich of the Swiss NLA and Crawford has more than enough experience to command a dressing room right away. And there’s also the matter of Auston Matthews, who Crawford has spent 2015-16 coaching. The Canadiens’ drop down the standings has precipitous enough that it appears Montreal could have a decent chance at landing the first overall pick. And if they get to select first overall, there’s almost no doubt they’d take Matthews. Who better to help Matthews take his first steps in the NHL than Crawford, a coach who has already formed a relationship with him?
That’s not to say hiring Crawford should be contingent on landing Matthews, though. Crawford has done enough to warrant consideration on his own. He has experience in Quebec from his season behind the bench with the Nordiques in 1994-95. He won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 1995-96. Crawford then spent seven seasons coaching in a huge Canadian market with the Vancouver Canucks. And in the tough Swiss league, he coached Zurich to a championship in 2013-14 and has his team looking like frontrunners again this season. (Jared Clinton)
Guy Boucher checks off all the right boxes for me. He’s a french speaker, which is a must, whether the Habs will admit that or not. We know he’s interested in another NHL coaching gig, as he announced this would be last season coaching SC Bern in Switzerland and was promptly relieved of his duties. He was a serious contender for the Toronto Maple Leafs job before Mike Babcock swooped in as well. Boucher was reasonably successful as Tampa Bay Lightning coach and deserves a second crack. (Matt Larkin)