PK Subban Benching Draws Ire of Montreal’s 4 Million Assistant Coaches
There are certain undeniable truths in hockey; there will be a winner every game, there will be at least one goal scored and one fan base will go away happy, the other, not so much. With the loser point some of the angst from a late game blown lead, a loss in OT, or the shootout, can be the proverbial lipstick on a pig but inevitably there’s going to be some upset fans. Multiply that by one million if it involves the Montreal Canadiens and its vitriol fan base. I can speak to this, I am one.
The cause celeb of the day, every day really is PK Subban. We use to take shots with the BB guns as kids on the farm at the top of the lightning rods on the barns. We’d fire hundreds of those tiny pellets trying to hit the wire or the little ball at the top. That number pales in comparison to the Montreal Canadien lightning rod and to the volume of shots and commentary involving him this week from his Team Canada selection through to his benching last night, ( January 8) another one, by coach Michel Therrien.
Here’s what happened last night; Montreal had arguably their best 2, 3, 4 shifts to start any game all season. They were forced back on their heels a bit when the Doug Murray-Francis Bouillon combo had a bad shift. Their early fever pitch slowed and Couturier banged a rebound home just past the six minute mark, 1-0 Flyers. Eight minutes later Zac Rinaldo scored a rare goal his first of the year on a train wreck play in front of the net and folks, believe when I say this, with the Flyers up 2-0 at this point the game was over right there. It was one of those nights, one of those games against a very hot team who won their tenth in a row in regulation on home ice for the first time in 29 years. The Habs had a bit of push back to start the second but that was pretty much it. PK had the puck knocked off his stick on one of his patented rink length dashes that made it about 25’ in front of his net. That’s okay that happens. I’m sick of seeing them, you should never, ever, ever have this happen again and again at the NHL level but, this con in his game is overshadowed by countless pros so in terms of an egregious mistake it’s not at the top of the list. What came at the end of the period is.
In a scrum at the end of the period players milled about endlessly, pushing and shoving with a couple of face washes. As the TV feed broke away it was clear there was yelling from an official for everybody to break it up, repeatedly. The feed went to commercial and the intermission began. At the start of the third I was chagrined to see PK as the only recipient of a penalty. Then they played the replay. There he was, again, with the scrum all but over, drilling somebody in the head, so he got two. When the Habs killed it and he got back to the bench, he got more than two; Head Coach Michel Therrien sat him down for a misconduct amount of time, give or take a minute, yet another benching for Montreal’s lightning rod.
This benching was more than justified. To many this is yet another salvo in the dissolving relationship between the lightning rod and the Head Coach. The reality show CH24 has added to the repertoire of the million assistant coaches in Montreal. Seeing MT rip into Mr. Subban during one such show is not for the faint of heart or the heart of many Habs fans. For the overwhelming majority of fans this coverage is all new. All they see is their superstar heir apparent being struck down repeatedly by a coach who by doing so has now stepped into the realm previously painted by the likes of Henri Richard when he said about Head Coach Al MacNeil during the Stanley Cup finals in 1971, ‘he’s the worst coach I ever played for,’ before Richard would conclude the series with two goals in game seven and he and MacNeil won Montreal a Stanley Cup.By the way, MacNeil was demoted right after their Cup win.
PK Subban came into the league with a massive reputation. He’s done little to stem it. He can pull you right out of your seat. I swear he goes up the ice at times and I feel I’m watching Gilbert Perreault. Or he can turn it over and lose it with the best of them. Erik Karlsson is leading the league in giveaway’s and a giveaway in a lot of instances is when you’re trying to cheat and you know what they say, if you’re not cheating you’re not trying…but, there is a big but on this one; the undisciplined play has to stop.
There is a massive difference between a brutal giveaway and an undisciplined act on the ice. In one case you may have no control, a slip, a misread; pressure in that instance caused you to make a mistake. An undisciplined play is one you have total control over and for anybody, any Habs fan to think PK Subban can continue in this vein, time and again and play on or lead a team to a major win in pro hockey they are sadly mistaken. Michel Therrien was 100% justified in that benching and he probably will be in the next one also. It’s my contention that if Therrien does not make the second round this year and/or is as badly embarrassed as he was by Senators coach Paul MacLean last year in the playoffs he’ll be let go anyway. That aside do people really think undisciplined play should be allowed to continue indefinitely? Are there no repercussions, ever, for selfish, undisciplined play? Yes there are, you sit or you don’t dress. Suck it up Habs fans. This display on twitter this morning from the fawning masses was equally embarrassing. PK does no wrong I guess. Thing is, I’m not a huge Michel Therrien fan. I was not thrilled by the hire, my original choice was Marc Crawford whose latest attempt in Dallas was not a good one but either way, the average length of a coaches career is about three years to make something happen or to be going in the right direction as a coach. Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz defy that standard but unless you have won or have improved by about year three, certainly year four, you’ve pushed the envelope.
Coach Therrien’s days are numbered of that there is no doubt but he still could make it through his tenure at least. PK Subban’s countdown to being a winner is permanently on hold until he understands certain mechanics of being a pro. BTW, I saluted his making Team Canada. I was thrilled for him and the Habs and he 100% deserved it. If anybody thinks he could pull off such an undisciplined move at the Olympics and not need pliers to get the splinters out of his rear end, they too are sadly mistaken.
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