Michel Therrien seems to have more in common with the late Rodney Dangerfield than just a few facial expressions or similar gestures would indicate . It appears, from my point of view, that like Dangerfield, Therrien "Don't Get No Respect" either.
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I was reading different articles over the past couple of days and there are a number of people that think Therrien needs to win a round or two in the playoffs this year or he will lose his job as the Penguins coach. I can imagine a scenario where MAYBE that would be justified, but on the whole, I find that point of view a little short sighted.
I am not around the Penguins on a daily basis, so I can't say for sure if Therrien is a good coach when it comes to specific things like "in game" decision making and adjustments. But I can say that from my seat on the sofa, over the past two and a half years, he must be doing something right! And Ray Shero and the Penguins ownership group seem to agree. They feel this team is ahead of schedule when it comes to making a serious run at the cup (see "Penguins Acquire Hossa" if you need a refresher).
That's why I am a little confused at the comments by others that the Penguins need to advance a round or two in the playoffs or Therrien will be gone.
That line of thinking almost suggests that the Penguins are winning IN SPITE OF and NOT BECAUSE OF Michel Therrien's coaching.
If you look at how the past two and a half seasons have unfolded (including the year he took over for Edzo), this team seems to play it's best hockey only AFTER Therrien (and his assistants you would assume) has to give the players a swift kick in the pants. And, as coaches go, he seems to be the perfect guy for that type of motivation.
Now, I am not suggesting that someone else couldn't come in here and do a good job. I am simply saying that I think part of the Penguins success is because of the way Therrien coaches. And maybe his style of coaching is something that "fits" this group of guys -- better than some people are able to see or admit.
Early in the season, when the club was under performing, Therrien was very clear in his message to the fans and players. Paraphrasing..."They need to work harder."
Popular players like Colby Armstrong and Mark Recchi - and veterans like Daryl Sydor - were benched because they were not competing hard enough in the coaches eyes. While Recchi never made it back on the ice in Pittsburgh, Armstrong and Sydor did...and both of them played considerably better than they did prior to their benchings.
And although as fans, we may have sometimes had issue with Therrien's seemingly endless juggling of lines, it appears that in addition to trying to find combinations that work (Malkin, Sykora, Malone), he may have also been trying to make sure there was always a little uncertainty in the player's minds. The kind of uncertainty that keeps you on your toes and makes you play your best.
The Eastern conference is really tight right now. By looking at the standings and the game scores over the past few weeks, it appears as if ANY team can defeat ANY other team in a seven game series. The Penguins could probably finish anywhere from 1st to 5th overall. Which means they could end up playing almost anybody else!
Under these circumstances and with the obvious parity that currently exists in the East, I would find it difficult to axe Therrien for a first round loss unless his team simply appeared unprepaired (got swept or did not compete well) or he made blatant coaching mistakes that cost them a series.
I know that the acquisition of Hossa has raised the stakes in Pittsburgh. And some people from both inside and outside view it as "they need to win now"...which may translate to "Therrien needs to win now." I just don't see it that way yet.
I am still of the belief that this is a very young team, that needs the proper motivation to play it's best hockey. And in my mind, Michel Therrien is the guy that "pulls the right strings" or "presses the right buttons" or whatever phrase you want to use to explain his successful motivational tactics.
Regardless of how far the Penguins advance in the playoffs, I don't think that approach is something that will need to be changed any time soon.
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