MONTREAL – Michel Therrien has been a success story behind the Canadiens bench. On Saturday, that success earned him a coveted contract extension.
The Habs bench boss, who still had one year remaining on his current contract, agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension that will see him lead the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge through the 2018-19 campaign.
“I’m very happy that we were able to come to an agreement on a four-year deal. It shows the kind of stability Marc Bergevin and Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens. We made outstanding progress over the last two seasons, and we want to keep progressing,” mentioned Therrien, who begain his second tenure with the Canadiens on June 5, 2012. “As for me, I see it as a sign of confidence. It’s about good teamwork, whether at the coaching level or with management and ownership. I really take note of the fact that people at every level of the organization are involved and engaged. There’s stability. That’s allowed us to progress quickly over the last two seasons.”
Therrien, who has coached over 1,000 career games in the pros at both the NHL and AHL levels, didn’t hesitate to discuss his relationship with general manager Marc Bergevin, pointing out time and again the degree to which team spirit has continued to develop throughout the organization since the 2012-13 campaign.
“It starts from the top. Whether it be Marc Bergevin, Geoff Molson, the coaching staff in Hamilton or Marc’s assistants, everyone has played a part in creating good team spirit and you can see it all the way into the dressing room,” confided Therrien, who has led the Canadiens to two straight postseason appearances, the second of which culminated in a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013-14.
Despite his successes, however, Therrien isn’t a man to rest on his laurels. He insists that players will have to adjust to changes in his coaching style next season.
“You always have to want to improve. Hockey is a game that changes quickly. We’re always working on a plan of action we want to instill in our team. You can’t be afraid to make changes during the year. The players are used to it by now,” mentioned Therrien, whose coaching staff should remain intact in 2014-15, the lone question mark being Gerard Gallant who remains a candidate for the coaching vacancy in Florida. “The coaching staff gets together a lot during the summer to scout player tendencies and stay as current as possible. You want to be up-to-date on systems and new technology. You don’t want to have the same spaghetti sauce again and again. You’re always looking to improve it.”
Questioned jokingly about his lines during a late afternoon conference call on Saturday after inking his new deal, Therrien indicated that lineup changes are inevitable, but that such decisions belong to Bergevin and his staff.
“There are always changes. That’s the reality of our sport. We have young veterans that learned a lot and other young guys, too. It’s part of the process to become a winner. I’m very satisfied with the progress we’ve made over the last two seasons,” underlined Therrien, who is already preparing for the upcoming NHL Draft, which will be held in under two weeks time in Philadelphia.
With Bergevin working his magic over the summer, Therrien believes he’ll take charge of a much-improved team come September.
“I know one thing. Marc Bergevin is working really hard right now to improve our team ahead of next season,” offered Therrien.
He’s begun that process by making certain that Therrien stays put for the foreseeable future.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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