Michel Therrien isn’t getting fired. Marc Bergevin said so this morning.
The vote of confidence from Montreal’s general manager came after his head coach’s job security became a hot topic as the Canadiens’ slump extended into January.
Since starting the season 19-4-3, the Habs have won just four times in their last 21 games.
“I’m responsible for everything that happens with this team,” Bergevin told reporters.
Now that the coaching staff’s status has been assured, the big question becomes whether Bergevin will try to improve his roster prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
He doesn’t seem to be interested in any rentals:
Bergevin’s trade-deadline strategy may also depend on the status of injured netminder Carey Price, who won’t be back until February at the earliest.
“It’s slower than we expected,” Bergevin said of his star goalie’s recovery. “There hasn’t been a setback. I don’t know exactly the date, but I don’t think he will be back (before) three weeks or a month.”
The Canadiens are back in action Saturday in Toronto.
Related: Therrien was ‘disappointed’ by Habs fans who booed Markov
Sean Couturier has a lower-body injury and will not play tonight in Pittsburgh.
The loss is huge because Couturier is the Flyers’ top defensive forward, and he usually shadows Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, the Penguins’ high-scoring stars. He also had 14 points in the last 14 games and has been arguably the Flyers’ best player in the last five-plus weeks.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol claimed he expected Couturier to be ready to play Thursday, but that after he received treatment, it was determined he couldn’t go.
With Couturier out, center Jordan Weal could make his Flyers debut. Weal was acquired in the trade that sent Vinny Lecavalier and Luke Schenn to Los Angeles.
Tonight is a big game for both teams, given the standings:
The Flyers lost their last outing in painful fashion. On Tuesday, with just eight seconds remaining in regulation, they surrendered the game-deciding goal to the Maple Leafs.
Prior to that defeat, the Flyers had gone 5-0-1 in their last six.
Before he makes a trade — if he makes a trade — Blues GM Doug Armstrong wants to see what his team looks like when healthy.
“Ultimately, you want to deal from knowledge from what your team is. Right now, we don’t have that knowledge,” Armstrong told ESPN yesterday. “One of the areas we liked about our team was going to be our balanced scoring, being a difficult team to check. Right now, because of the injuries, we’re not as difficult to check. We don’t have that second or third wave we thought we’d have.”
Currently, the big missing piece is 23-year-old Jaden Schwartz, out since October after fracturing his ankle.
But that’s expected to change soon. Schwartz practiced with his teammates yesterday. He’s not ready to go yet, but once the All-Star break is over, he could be back in the lineup.
“Certain things with the ankle feel better than others,” he told the Post-Dispatch. “The ones that don’t feel as good, I have to work on that. It’s a week to week thing. … (The ankle is) not quite normal yet. I have to do some things to get it back to speed.”
St. Louis has missed the goals that Schwartz provides. After 50 games, the Blues have the 17th-ranked offense (2.5 goals per game). Last year, they finished fifth (2.9), when Schwartz’s 28 goals were second on the team to only Vladimir Tarasenko‘s 37.
The Edmonton Oilers announced this morning that defenseman Andrew Ference will undergo hip surgery and be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
Ference has only appeared in six games in 2015-16. He’s been on injured reserve for the majority of the time with what the Oilers called a “nagging hip injury.”
The 36-year-old is signed through next season for a cap hit of $3.25 million.
Related: Ference no longer captain of the Oilers
Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman had the same message today that he did earlier this month when Jonathan Drouin’s trade request went public:
The Lightning won’t be strong-armed. They’ll trade the 20-year-old forward when they’re good and ready to trade him. There’s no timeline for the completion of a deal.
Of course, the difference today is that Drouin has been suspended by the Lightning, without pay, after he failed to report for his AHL duties.
And, so, while Yzerman maintained that he won’t be pressured into making a trade that doesn’t benefit the club — in fact, he’s still open to a reconciliation — he did concede that a deal to move the talented forward is “actively and aggressively” being pursued.
As for the claim by Drouin’s agent, Allan Walsh, that the Lightning had recently “advised that a trade involving Jonathan was moving closer to completion,” Yzerman denied that ever happened.
Yzerman also had this piece of advice for any player in Drouin’s situation:
For Drouin, that’s obviously not possible anymore. All he can do now is wait and hope that Yzerman finds a deal that’s to his liking.