It is looking increasingly evident that Michel Therrien will be the new assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers. Yesterday, this tweet emerged from Renaud Lavoie, that fortunately I didn’t have to translate from French:
Michel Therrien is back in the NHL. The @NHLFlyers will announce that he will be an assistant coach to Alain Vigneault. Confirmation should come in the next few days.— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) May 5, 2019
This was later confirmed by Dave Isaac:
Dave is very well connected with the organization, and as a reporter more tuned in to what is happening at the regional level, the news coming from him seals its legitimacy. Major Canadian network SN have also ran news of the potential hire.
From an organizational perspective, the hire makes some sense. Both Therrien and Vigneualt are French-Canadian, and were in the Montreal organization at the same time, when Vigneualt was coach and Therrien was a scout. Though, Therrien was brought in after Vigneault was fired. They’ve also faced each other a fair amount when Vigneualt was coaching the Rangers, so they are undoubtedly familiar with each other’s tactics and personalities.
However, that being said, if this hire is true it’s maybe not a good hire. Unlike Vigneualt who, despite some bad habits, has had more success than failures, Therrien has never been consistent. He coached in Pittsburgh during Sidney Crosby’s first three years in the NHL, and was fired during his 4th. Hilariously, the Penguins would win the Stanley Cup that year...without him. Before that, they were bounced out of the playoffs by Daniel Alfredsson’s Ottawa Senators, and then lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Detroit.
After a break, he was hired by Montreal for a second time in 2012-13, the lockout shortened season. His Canadiens would finish top three in the division for the next three years, and would get to the conference final in 2013-14, losing to Vigneault’s Rangers. He would then lose the reigns in Montreal, missing the playoffs the following year. He was then fired after a disappointing run of games during the NHL’s Centennial season. Yet again, after his departure, Claude Julien was able to take Montreal to a first place finish in the division, though they again lost to the Rangers, this time in the first round. Of course, coming in as an assistant coach will be different from him having total control on the team, but this trend of his teams getting better after he leaves is concerning to say the least.
There is a stunning indictment of Therrien’s coaching ability, and personality, in the biography of Daniel Briere, “Mr. Playoffs”, written by Martin Leclerc. The book is entirely in French, and there is an article on the book in French on CBC’s Radio Canada. When translated into English, there is a segment coming from Briere that reads, “When I walked into the room, [Therrien] started picking me once again, showing me some gameplay [...] He ended his speech by saying, ‘There’s nobody in the room that respects you! There is no one who wants to play with you!’ It was incredibly mean.” He goes on to say “Everyone knew I was the target player [...] I was embarrassed, embarrassed, hurt,” and finishes with “The message was very clear: my opinion was not welcome and I was better off shutting up.”
This is appalling player management by Therrien, and I don’t want somebody like this near the Flyers one bit. Singling out a player is one thing, but Therrien appears to pick hard favorites, and who knows who that would be. Of course, he is just the assistant, but I would have to imagine that Vigneualt was consulted on the hire, and therefore, Therrien is bound to have Vigneualt’s ear. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful this could be, especially if Therrien begins to single out skilled players. It could potentially be worse than Hakstol’s learning moment benching of young players. This could all just be projection, but with his track record, I think Flyers fans have a right to be nervous.
Update: the Flyers confirmed this news
They have also brought Mike Yeo on as an assistant. That’s...certainly news alright.