Montreal bench boss Michel Therrien isn’t holding back in expressing anticipation over playing his former team.
The Canadiens will host the Penguins — the club Therrien took to the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 — on Saturday night, the first time he’s faced Pittsburgh since being sacked in 2009.
“It’s going to be special, I’m not going to hide it,” Therrien told the Canadian Press. “But I’ve got some great memories of my time in Pittsburgh.
“There are some players I know well. I have a lot of respect for them. But to play against your old team as a player or a coach is special.”
The 2008-09 Penguins were a heavy Cup favorite after losing to Detroit in the finals the year prior, yet never were able to get things going.
After posting a 27-25-5 record through 57 games, the team made the decision to replace Therrien with Dan Bylsma…and the Pens went on to win their first Stanley Cup in 17 years.
A number of the Penguins that played under Therrien are still with the team: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, Brooks Orpik, Chris Kunitz and Mark Eaton, to name a few.
Therrien says he remembers the team fondly and is looking forward to facing them at the Bell Centre.
“It was a challenge. No one expected us to be in a Stanley Cup final that quickly,” he explained. “We’re in first place now and they’re in second, but playing against that team is a challenge even if Malkin (concussion) is out.
“There’s only seven or eight guys left on that roster since I left, but the identity is always the same.”