The Short Memories of the Hockey World
Lou Lamoriello loves to surprise people, and he loves the history and traditions of the Montreal Canadiens.
Put those two together, and you might have an unexpected name pop up as a possible candidate to be the next coach of Lamoriello's New Jersey Devils, probably the best coaching vacancy in the game right now.
Having the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins playing in a playoff series this week brought to mind the fact that Michel Therrien coached both clubs, and in fact coached the Pens to the Stanley Cup final just two springs ago.
Yet while everybody is talking up minor league coaches like Scott Arniel and Guy Boucher, or even a veteran like Ken Hitchcock, Therrien's name is oddly absent from the rumour mill.
Chalk that one up to the short memory of the hockey world.
Therrien, in other words, seems perfect for Lamoriello, who has surprised the industry twice by hiring Jacques Lemaire, and fired a few coaches when it was least expected, as well.
Lamoriello's most successful coach have all had links to the Habs, no surprise given Lamoriello's days playing baseball in Quebec as a young man and his fascination with the Montreal organization.
Along with Lemaire, Larry Robinson and Pat Burns also won Cups in Jersey. Therrien, meanwhile, coached the Canadiens from 2000 to 2003 before being fired 46 games into the 2002-03 season.
He went on to coach in Pittsburgh's minor league system before being elevated to guide the Penguins where he coached parts of four seasons before being replaced by Dan Bylsma last season.
Therrien is regarded as a gruff, no nonsense coach, and one with a history of emotional outbursts, either planned or spontaneous. He lives forever in YouTube fame for going off on the Penguins shortly after he arrival, saying their "goal was to be the worst defensive team in the league," saying they were "soft" and that "a lot of guys don't care."
But look at the coaching record. Pretty good. He brought a lot of structure to the Penguins, turned them from a bad team to a good team - albeit with Sidney Crosby in the lineup - and got along with his young superstar rather well.
He's only 46 years old and has nearly two decades of coaching experience in the QMJHL, AHL and NHL.
He's about as proven a commodity in the coaching fraternity who available right now. He'd probably help in Tampa Bay or Atlanta, but New Jersey looks like the perfect fit.