Gauging a Montreal Canadiens coach can be a tricky endeavor.
For one thing, you must consider the expectations that come inherent with being the bench boss of a franchise that has won a record 24 Stanley Cups.
It’s not about excellence alone, however, as management acknowledged years ago that their head coach probably needs to speak French.
“Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach,” Team president Geoff Molson said in a statement back in 2011.
Some hoped that the Habs would part ways with Michel Therrien after the team’s second-round exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning, yet GM Marc Bergevin stood idle.
Has the coach of a 110-point team that finished second overall in the league, a team coming off an Eastern Conference final, ever faced so much heat at home? Doubtful. There is a strange reluctance to embrace Therrien here, despite three consecutive outstanding seasons on his watch.
One might break down the arguments in three different ways:
1) Therrien is the best fit, period.
2) Therrien is the best fit considering Montreal’s Francophone requirements.
The 21-year-old scored a career-high 20 goals and 46 points in 80 games during the 2014-15 season, but found the back of the net just once in 12 playoff games.
“As long as I’ve played, I’ve never set goals for points,” he said during a conference call on Friday. “You have to prepare yourself to stay healthy and be in the right mindset. I expect to have a great year and I can’t wait to get started.”
Negotiations on a new deal for Galchenyuk were delayed this summer after he fired his agent Igor Larionov. The Hall of Famer suggested Galchenyuk was unhappy with his ice time and the way he was used by coach Michel Therrien.
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Galchenyuk said of Larionov’s comments. “I’m happy to be in Montreal for two more years and it’s up to the coaches and trainers to decide where to use me.”
Galchenyuk believes the club’s recent addition, free agent Alex Semin, will be a good fit in the Habs’ lineup.
“I met him right before he signed,” Galchenyuk said. “I was at the (Canadiens) kids’ camp and he was with his agent in the dressing room. When I came off the ice, I heard he had signed. I’m happy for him. He’s a skilled player and I think it will work out well.”
Galchenyuk’s new deal carries an annual average value of $2.8 million. He will be a restricted free agent once again following the 2016-17 season.
Montreal’s regular season scoring leader Max Pacioretty practiced with his teammates on Monday for the first time since suffering what is believed to be a concussion on April 5.
Pacioretty sported a tinted visor all but giving away the fact his “upper body injury” is in fact a concussion.
The 26-year-old called the practice a special teams practice adding he’ll need to test things out in a contact practice.
“Before playing a game, you try and practice with the team, full contact. Today was a special teams practice, so it was perfect timing to get back out there. I still have to be cleared for contact. That’s the next step,” said Pacioretty per the team’s website. “That’s the same with every injury. You could feel great skating around, but as soon as you start battling it doesn’t feel as good and you re-aggravate it. I’m headed in the right direction, but I’m still not completely over the hump.”
Pacioretty fell awkwardly following a hit from Panthers defenseman Dmitry Kulikov.
“I’ve responded really well to treatment. I’ve gotten better every day. I think the stuff that goes on behind the scenes is really what has made me feel a lot better. I’m taking it day by day and I’m feeling better. That’s what’s important,” said Pacioretty, who took shifts on the Habs’ first power play unit alongside David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau. “When you’re waiting in Florida, you’re thinking best or worst case possibilities. But, as soon as I got back and saw the doctor, I felt pretty comfortable and I felt confident that hopefully I could come back soon. It’s not something that we’re rushing at all, though.”
Coach Michel Therrien wouldn’t indicate when his top scorer would return to the lineup.
“We’ll use him when he’s ready, whether that’s Wednesday, Friday (Game 2), Sunday (Game 3 in Ottawa). We don’t know when,” said Therrien.
Pacioretty had 37 goals and 67 points in 80 regular season games.