--Sam Kasan PENS REFLECT ON THERRIEN
A lot of Pens on the current roster were on the team when Michel Therrien was the club's head coach. Nine Pens played for Therrien, but his biggest impression was left on the young stars like Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. Those players were just breaking into the NHL and were simply teenagers learning under Therrien's guidance. Needless to say, he help mold them into the players they are today.
"For a lot of us, we grew up together and had a lot to learn," Crosby said. "I feel like he gave me a lot of opportunities and responsibility at a pretty young age, but he definitely had an influence on my career. I appreciate everything he did for me."
"There are a lot of things I learned," Letang said. "He's someone that was really fair, especially with me. I really worked in the early-age of my career with him playing defensively. He teaches his players to come to rink and work hard. ... It was my first few steps in the league playing defensively and playing hard."
The media caught up with Michel Therrien following Habs morning skate. He had a lot of great things to say about his time in Pittsburgh and what tonight will be like for him, facing his former team for the first time...
On Crosby sending him a congratulatory text:
Sidney is a special player for me. I took him when he was 18 years old. I remember when I talked to him the first time, I said my goal is to make sure you’re going to become the best player in the NHL. I didn’t know that at 19, he was going to become the best player in the NHL. He got the title that year. He’s a special guy. He’s a true professional. I enjoyed my time spending with him. It’s always flattering when one of your ex-players calls you to wish you good luck in your challenge.
On what he took from his Pittsburgh experience:
You got to be patient with young kids. Make sure they learn to play the game the right way. There’s a lot of teaching that has to be done. This is what I learned when I was in Pittsburgh. This is what I try to do with our young guys as well. Put them in a position where they’re going to be able to be successful.
On returning to Montreal for a second time:
I was surprised. I was surprised in a way. But when I went through that process, what they were looking for in search of a new coach and my first meeting with management, I felt comfortable. I knew inside myself I was the right guy for that job, for that challenge. Knowing this market, it’s a big plus. I’ve been here before and I learned a lot from my first time in Montreal. I learned a lot when I was in Pittsburgh, too, as well. That’s why I felt I was ready for that job.
On seeing the Penguins for the first time as a coach for the other team:
It is going to be a special game for myself. And it won’t be different for any of the players. I’m sure it is going to be a special game for Colby Armstrong, too, as well. When I was coaching in Pittsburgh, every time I faced Montreal it was a special game. So that’s normal. One thing you’ve got to focus on is preparation. You’ve got to focus on the game. I really enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh. It was a second home for me. We stayed there even after I ended up losing the job because we loved the city and the fans. But we have to move on. I have a new challenge here in Montreal and I’m really excited about rising to the challenge for the Montreal Canadiens.
--Michelle Crechiolo MORNING SKATE INFO
Paul Martin, who suffered a lower-body injury Thursday night in Carolina, was not on the ice for the team's morning skate. The Pens appear to be shuffling their forwards and defensemen for tonight, and it looks like Eaton will play.
Bergevin brought in Michel Therrien, who coached the Pens from 2005-09, to take over behind the bench for a second stint with the Canadiens after a three-year hiatus from coaching – and it’s a move that’s worked out surprisingly well. The Canadiens have responded to Therrien’s tough style and are thriving under him. They say Therrien has instilled a new team-first, winning attitude in a club that missed the playoffs last season – and has essentially the same players. Want an example of just how team-first the Canadiens are now? The Canadian Press reported that the club banned the "triple low-fives" victory celebration Carey Price and P.K. Subban used to perform after home wins in favor of a team salute to the fans.
Right now, the Canadiens are on a 7-0-2 tear that has them in first place in the Eastern Conference. A big part of their success is their balanced attack. Different lines have been stepping up each night, and they have eight players with double digits in points and four players right at the precipice with nine points. Left winger Max Pacioretty leads with 16 points (6G-10A) in 16 games while longtime Hab Tomas Plekanec’s eight goals rank first on the team. Bergevin’s first draft pick, 19-year-old Alex Galchenyuk (taken No. 3 overall last June), has fit right in the lineup, while offseason acquisition Brandon Prust provides an edge.
In the spirit of Therrien's blow-up rant below, I've got a little side story that some of you may enjoy that involves Pens' communications director Jen Bullano (@PensPRLady).
Back when Therrien was first hired, Bullano was a PR intern with the team. Part of her job was to transcribe the coach's post-game press conference. During the public lashing, Therrien called the team "soft." But when Bullano and other Pens staff members played back the tape to transcribe, they thought Therrien said "suck." So in the post-game transcript given to the media, Therrien said of the team, "They suck."
Of the two major newspapers, one ran a story with "soft" while the other ran a story with "suck." So Bullano, to her credit, went into Therrien's office the following day to apologize for the mistake - which is a scary thing if you know Therrien.
After Bullano said sorry for mistakenly writing suck, Therrien responded, "It's OK. I like your way better."
START THE DAY
The Pens will hit the ice at 11:30 a.m. for their morning skate at Bell Centre in preparation for a 7 p.m. showdown with the East-leading/surprising Montreal Canadiens and former coach Michel Therrien.
After coaching a few seasons with their American Hockey League affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the Penguins promoted Therrien to Pittsburgh Dec. 15, 2005 in place of Ed Olczyk. He guided the team to one of the most dramatic turnarounds in NHL history the following season in 2006-07 and led them to the playoffs for the first time in six years. The following year, in '08, he coached the Pens to their third Eastern Conference title and a berth in the Stanley Cup. Therrien was replaced the next season by current bench boss Dan Bylsma, who led Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup championship that season.
Therrien was always known as a no-nonsense coach and strict disciplinarian. He also wasn't afraid to call out his players to the media when he deemed necessary. In fact, maybe his most memorable moment in Pittsburgh came about a month after he arrived. Following a 3-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Therrien went on an epic rant that lives on to this day in the minds of Pens fans everywhere.
So in honor of the Pens first matchup against their former coach, here is Therrien's wonderful post-game rant.