Posts tagged ‘Michel Therrien’

May 12, 2014

Daniel Brière, Playoff Consultant

by Jacob Saltiel



Given his late career decline in skills and Coach Therrien’s reluctance to play him, Daniel Brière has rebranded himself from NHL player into NHL Playoff Consultant. He’s not exactly an assistant coach, but he’s spinning his excellent post-season reputation into a new career without having to retire. Before the website for Brière’s new gig comes up, here’s a leaked snippet of some of the boilerplate:

“With 113 playoff points in 116 playoff games, I have the experience to optimize, maximize, and synergize your playoff team’s chances of taking home the Stanley Cup.

Playoff strategy is about enabling an organization to achieve and sustain superior performance by overcoming challenges, understanding historical playoff trends and linking tangible actions to a clear strategic vision. Whether it’s pursuing the Stanley Cup, delivering upsets against heavily favoured opponents, driving efficiencies or winning series’ in fewer games, NHL teams need plans and tactics they can implement and deliver to drive successful outcomes.

My playoff experience has helped NHL franchises in different states of contention make the right decisions to allow them to take advantage of opportunities while minimizing risks. Combining world-class playoff scoring with decades of hands-on experience, I can help you:

  • Define a team-franchise vision linked to tangible actions and goals
  • Improve operational on-ice performance
  • Engage in strategic performance measurement and advanced analytics
  • Gameplan to promote your team’s assets and expose the opposition’s liabilities.

Let Brière Scoring Solutions take your NHL Franchise to the next level.”

No one wants to say that Therrien, after playing Douglas Murray and Brandon Prust in a crucial away game 5 when the other team has last change needs Brière Solutions, but hey, they’re paying the guy’s salary anyway…


(with thanks to whoever wrote the boilerplate for Corporate Consulting over at Deloitte)






May 6, 2013

Send In the Clowns: Game 3, Habs-Sens Review

by Jacob Saltiel

Over at, there’s the BGS review of Game 3, in which the Canadiens loss of composure and is traced back to their coach’s failure to react to the Senators’ scheming, and how wrath and rage won’t save the Canadiens in this round:

January 31, 2013

This Is How You Get People To Click On Your Website: The Canadian Press and PK Subban

by Jacob Saltiel

Oh hey…

Yesterday an article with the title “Subban Must Accept New Rules Before Rejoining Canadiens” went up on

Wow, eh? Sure sounds like the Canadiens haven’t taken an ‘all is forgiven’ approach to re-signing one of their best young players. With articles like that appearing alongside articles with titles like “No Celebrating In Habs’ Dressing Room Over Subban Signing“, you’d think that Subban ran over Bergevin’s dog or something.

The articles are attributed to The Canadian Press, but John Lu on TSN probably did the reporting, at least based on the “Moving Forward” video posted on TSN (accessible to the right of the article in the TSN video panel) where he interviewed the players.

Mixed Reactions to Mixed Reaction

Now, it’s true that the Canadian Press’ job is to create compelling stories, but it sure looks like they’re trying to manufacture a controversy where there may not be one at all. The narrative: “OH MY GOD PERNELL’S TEAMMATES HATE HIM” is much more likely to get the average hockey reader to click on their link than is “Montreal Canadiens go about their business while Subban rejoins team following lengthy contract negotiation”.

In both of the articles linked to above, the headlines don’t even correspond to the content that follows. The phrase ‘mixed reaction’ means that some people approve and some people don’t. In fact, in examining the article, it’s not so much a case of ‘mixed reactions’ as it is a case of players not wanting to discuss someone who isn’t there. As Markov said: “He’s not in the room yet, so let’s talk about it when he’s going to be in the room.” Ryan White, meanwhile, said “It’s a relief” and Lars Eller is quoted at the very bottom of the article as saying “A player of P.K.’s calibre is always welcome in the lineup.” Gorges’ comments about never having played with a player who held out before and taking a wait and see approach are non-committal, rather than explicitly disapproving. So, since no one actually said that they were unhappy to see Subban back, the phrase ‘mixed reaction’ quite simply does not apply here. The meanest thing anyone said about Subban was reported on “When someone suggested to Lars Eller that P.K. wanted to be known as The Subbanator, the Danish forward replied: “We’re going to call him Pernell.”A more accurate headline might have read “CANADIENS REFUSE TO POP BOTTLES OF VEUVE CLIQUOT AT SUBBAN CONTRACT SIGNING”. Had that been the headline, and had the Canadian Press entered the dressing room and failed to find this, this, or evidence of this happening, it would be accurate.

The Rules Are Up On the Fridge Door

The other article, about Subban accepting new rules, is silly. Considering that the Canadiens brought in a new general manager and coach in the offseason, do you know who else had to “accept new rules before re-joining the Canadiens?” If your answer was “EVERY SINGLE PLAYER, PROSPECT, AND EMPLOYEE” then your answer was correct. That’s generally what happens when any organization changes management, but The Canadian Press would have you believe that Subban is somehow different. The headline would only be meaningful if the reporter had some quotation or source indicating that Subban would get back in the lineup when he agreed to wear a full-caged helmet, or only use one skate in practices and games from now on.

The TSN article has no reference to anything of this type, only vague statements about the team’s philosophy:

“The first thing Marc Bergevin and I did was sit down with (Subban) and explain our philosophy and he understood where we’re coming from,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “It was a good, honest conversation with P.K. and we just want to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

Oh, really? Therrien had a sit-down with a player who, until now, wasn’t under contract to explain his coaching philosophy? OH DON’T HIT THAT BLOGPOST BUTTON YET! In both cases, the headlines above are cynically designed to get angsty-Habs fans to click on the articles and then go Edvard Munch’s The Scream on one another.

Look, it may be the case that Subban is an awful person and worse teammate, but to print this in an official media outlet would require, uhm, facts, right? When an anonymous player on the Canadiens goes on record stating that Subban is never invited to team birthday parties, that’ll be news. Or, hey, shouldn’t there be an answer to the question “why?” in these articles somewhere? Why might his teammates and managers be so pissed at him? Is that clearly mentioned anywhere? Is it even speculated about? There must be some form of telepathic mind-reading going on that the writer isn’t at liberty to divulge. Based on the quotations gleaned from conversations with the actual players involved, very little has actually been said that supports the main arguments of the two posts.

Until these questions are answered and supported by evidence, these types of articles will remain unpersuasive and not far removed from simple mudslinging. There may still be a story worth reporting here, but the articles posted above are poor examples of what fans should be reading on the matter.

January 27, 2013

Northeast Division Roundup, January 19-26

by Jacob Saltiel

Orr Checks Scoreboard, Still Plenty of Time to Dummy Scott

Based on the data accumulated over the first whole week of NHL hockey this year, all kinds of persuasive data can be extrapolated about the teams in the Northeast division. Actually, that’s completely silly to suggest, so please regard this analysis as a series of general impressions and observations. Read below:

Boston Bruins

After 7 days of NHL hockey, the Bruins have yet to hurt anyone in a way that cynically manipulates the NHL rulebook. Amazing what a team can do when they don’t focus simply on bashing. They started their abbreviated season on fire, taking 3 out of 4 possible points from a strong Rangers team and smothering the Jets and Islanders. It’s early, and 2 of the teams they beat are likely bottom-feeding this year, but they’re a team with a defined identity, a relatively young core, and no obvious weak points. It’s only been a week, but one thing that can point to future troubles ahead is the 4 goals the Rangers put on Rask. They’ll need him to steal a few goals against elite teams if the Bruins are to advance in the playoffs. Even with that potential flag, Dougie Hamilton looks like he can play, which is bad news for the rest of the East.

Buffalo Sabres

Hard to gauge this team, with a narrow win over the Leafs, a victory over the Flyers fueled by Vanek running hog wild, and trading losses with the enigmatic Hurricanes. Their addition of grit over the offseason has been mixed so far. Ott’s been strong and Stafford notably and foolishly fought Hartnell, but John Scott got punked by Orr. John Scott is a dancing bear dressed up in hockey gear whose only purpose is to smash. If he can’t perform his duty against the heavies of the league, he’s a waste of a roster spot. And, besides, it’s not like he can protect wee Gerbe from the referees, can he?

Montreal Canadiens

Subban remains lost in the desert of his indecision, causing angst for everyone in the Montreal area, but Markov’s return has brought up memories of the Canadiens’ vaunted power play of a couple of years ago. There’s a lot of smoke coming out of the Montreal blogosphere about Subban being an elite two-way defenceman, and while he may yet become that, one only has to watch the Canadiens powerplay with Markov at the wheel to see the difference between someone who can and someone who cannot run a powerplay. So long as Therrien’s running Bouillon and Kaberle out there, the Canadiens can still use Subban’s top-notch defensive presence. The shortcomings of Frankie Boo and Kaberle will reveal themselves over time- even in a shortened season. Even so, a disjointed throwaway loss in Toronto and two ‘taking care of business’ wins against ragged Florida and possibly sadsack Washington, and the Habs look good for a team that finished bottom of the conference last year. Tonight, they’ll be taking on the Devils without Pacioretty, who unexpectedly came down with appendicitis and will be out for a month.

Ottawa Senators
The young Senators can score goals, but as the Tampa Bay Lightning showed, they can also end up on the wrong side of some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. While some have pointed to their goaltending as deep, Anderson is as prone to brilliance as he is to mediocrity from one night to the next. Though Bishop is touted as a strong goalie prospect, displays like the one against Tampa reveal that he still has some adjusting to do. Maybe Robin Lehner in the AHL is the longterm answer, but they’ll find out once they unload Anderson or Bishop. They’ll be exciting to watch, and if Turris turns into a point-a-game centre (4 goals and an assist through 4 games as of now), they’ll be regularly chasing other teams’ starting goalies onto the bench.

Toronto Maple Leafs
What the heck is going with this team, right? Screwing with their goalie rotation by playing the crab-like Scrivens over Reimer, starting seemingly half of their farm team and Nazem Flarning Kadri lighting it up, it’s hard to tell which way this team is going. Sources also say that Hercule Poirot is investigating the identity of one ‘Michael Kostka‘. Anyroad, this is a Leafs squad that blows into Pittsburgh and stomps out the Penguins and then gets set ablaze like so many backyard leaf fires in the fall by John Taveres and the Strong Island. Phaneuf’s attempt to combine Tavares’ face with the endboards was an interesting attempt at alchemy, but should have been rewarded with a suspension. Last night, against an elite team likely to finish in the top-half of the East’s playoff ranks, the Leafs crumbled in the 2nd half, losing 5-2 to the Rangers. While they have some young guys who can score, it looks like their team defence couldn’t keep a minifridge out of their net.

January 23, 2013

Game 2: Canadiens vs Panthers, Crushing the Cats

by Jacob Saltiel
Carey Price

The Cycle of Life is Disney, the Cycle of Violence is Hockey
from Yahoo! Sports

Schedule Casualty

Commentators in the NBA refer to the 5th game played in 7 nights on road trips as a “schedule loss”. At that point in the sequence of the schedule, the team is so tried from travel and playing that they chalk up the loss to the schedule over any other considerations. It’s this phenomena of league planning that prompted a $250,000 fine of the Spurs when their coach sent his star players home before the last game of the trip.

In the NHL, there are no 5 games in 7 days, but 3 games in 4 nights will occur several times, and starting the 27th of January through February 3rd, the Habs play 5 games in 8 nights, though mostly at home.

Last night it was the Panthers skating out for the back end of a 3 in 4, and the Habs did well to jump all over them. Michael Caruso played less than 2 minutes after getting injured early, and rotating 5 defence left Montreal’s forwards space to work with.

Crushing Be Here

Panned elsewhere in the blogosphere, the additions of Prust and Armstrong, along with the re-signing of Moen looked good last night. Those three, along with White, battered the Panthers all night long, forced turnovers, and on one particular shift hemmed their opponents behind their blueline, who failed to organize a breakout under pressure.

White showed a little too much enthusiasm in defending Gorges, cruising in on the non-combatant Fleischmann and feeding him rights and lefts. The bill came out to 27 minutes in penalties, and had the Panthers been fresher, might have represented an opportunity to get back into the game. Still, the Habs need to defend their stars and let it be known that crushing awaits anyone who hits anyone in red disrespectfully. As the rap album warns, Violence Begets Violence, and chances are good that the next time these teams meet (Feb. 14th, in Florida), White will have to fight someone who can defend themselves. In comparison to last year, he’s got backup.


Markov’s 2 goals and return to effectiveness on the powerplay is great, but don’t overlook Diaz. After watching Kaberle and Markov skate all over each other’s plans during Saturday’s game, Therrien split them up, and the results were excellent. There were far more dump-and-chase plays that ended in Diaz and Markov swapping points, changing the point of attack by dumping the puck around the boards. Additionally, Kaberle was able to run to the 2nd powerplay unit, which did more than wind the clock down.

It’s early, but Diaz has 3 assists in his first 2 games, and even when Subban comes back, he should get more time on the 1st or 2nd PP unit. Diaz stopped Panthers penalty kill breakouts on a few occasions, keeping possession and setting up his linemates to make plays.

Having given Diaz his due, it was thrilling to see Markov simply wind up and rip it once again.

Gally, Gally, Gally

Against expectations, Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Prust formed a solid 3rd line against the Panthers. They were able to cycle, put shots on net, and gave Therrien much better minutes from this 3rd line than he got on Saturday. Galchenyuk’s game is covered elsewhere, but it’s worth mentioning that Gallagher also looked good, and his inclination to burrow right into the crease following shots is both fearless and valuable to the Canadiens.

Meanwhile on the 2nd line, Bourque played well with Plekanec and Gionta, though he had little to do with Plekanec’s goal.* Throughout the game, Bourque showed some speed and some hitting, while the line as a whole performed with some structure.

On a night where the top-line missed a wide open cage- ERIK COLE STAND UP- Therrien needed his other forwards to perform, and that they did. If the top-12 forwards can play like this every night, the Habs might be better than expected. They will, however, have to show that they can play this way against more rested, and more talented teams.

And soon.

The Capitals and Ovechkin await the Canadiens in D.C. Thursday night.


*Kovalev backchecked Plekanec on that play like it was 2008 and they were still linemates. He escorted him to the slot rather than battled him, but Turtleneck will take it.

January 22, 2013


by Jacob Saltiel

It’s -20 in Montreal?

No doubt looking forward to tonight’s game against the Canadiens, the Florida Panthers took Monday night off, losing 4-0 to the Ottawa Senators.


Since losing to the Leafs on Saturday, Therrien has been experimenting to generate something resembling cohesion from his 2nd and 3rd lines.

Chantal Machabee of RDS just tweeted that the result of these experiments is to drop Eller* from the lineup, move Galchenyuk and Gallagher to the 3rd line with Prust, and bump Bourque up to Plekanec’s wing as follows:





Assuming this is what the lines will be by gametime, it looks like Therrien’s hoping to put together a 3rd line with some grit, scoring, and peskiness (moving from left-to-right across your computer monitor). Given that Gallagher’s also a rookie, and Galchenyuk struggled to distinguish himself on Saturday, it might be optimistic to expect structured play from this line.

Last year, Bourque failed to do much riding shotgun with Plekanec, and it’s not as if he had an extended training camp to build chemistry. Despite that, Bourque might be an improvement on Galchenyuk by scrambling less and providing a better target for Plekanec’s passes.

Word is that Bouillon will still be patrolling the 2nd unit powerplay as Therrien insists on playing Kaberle and Markov together.

The Return
Kovalev will probably get some cheers tonight, and the Habs will get a look at least year’s Southeast Division champions.

The Panthers have two scoring lines. Last year’s top-line of Fleischmann, Weiss, and possibly Scottie Upshall in Versteeg’s absence** returns. The other scoring line is big and consists of Kovalev, Mueller, and the exciting young Huberdeau.

Therrien will have to match one of his top-two lines against one of those Florida lines, since he doesn’t have two checking lines. It’s unreasonable to expect Galchenyuk to match up defensively against the Panthers and the 4th line should be rumbling with the big line and trying to intimidate Huberdeau and knock Kovalev out of his narrow comfort zone.

Theodore will be sitting this game out, which may not help the Habs if the Desharnais trio can’t run wild on the Florida defence.

Big Game Hunting

The Panthers should be tired from two days in two nights. If the Canadiens can play with more organization on their 2nd and 3rd lines than they did on Saturday, they should be able to take this game. Of course, with Kovalev in town, there’s the possibility he reciprocates the love from the stands with a huge night, setting up Huberdeau for success in his first game in Quebec.


*Not sure why Eller’s getting dropped so soon in the season other than for Therrien to make a point.

Machabee, again: “Lars Eller laissé de côté pour le match de ce soir. Pourquoi cette décision après un match? “Pas le temps de niaiser” a répondu M. Therrien.”

This translates as:

Reporter: Lars Eller is a healthy scratch tonight. Why would you drop him from the lineup after just one game?
Therrien: No time to screw around.

**Versteeg’s on the IR with hip surgery