The Montreal Canadiens sport a subpar developmental record over the last decade, but former coach Michel Therrien feels there wasn’t much to develop in the first place.
On a recent episode of La Poche Bleu “Le Midi”, former head coach Michel Therrien was talking about development and praising the young prospects that the Canadiens currently have in their cupboards at this time. He spent much of his time praising top prospects like Kaiden Guhle or Owen Beck.
When Therrien began recounting his time as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens and his plight in developing the club’s young players, things got interesting.
Therrien told the story of his task in trying to develop former 3rd overall pick, Alex Galchenyuk. After explaining the process of trying Galchenyuk at wing or at centre and working around his perceived lack of Hockey IQ, the conversation quickly turned to the fault that’s been put on Canadiens coaches when highly touted prospects don’t succeed.
“To be honest with you, the only things we were able to develop were our Christmas gifts,” said Michel Therrien regarding the Canadiens’ subpar developmental record. “There wasn’t much else to develop.”
The comment even took host Stéphane Gonzalez by surprise, but he quickly attempted to smooth things over by stating that there are surprises and disappointments in every draft. However, Therrien took his criticism of the prospect pool a little further, mentioning that he would attend certain rookie camps and go home discouraged.
“I would attend these rookie camps and leave thinking to myself- and there were a couple of camps where none of the players ended up playing in the NHL- and I’d ask myself ‘which of these guys is going to be good enough to play?’,” said Therrien of his impressions of rookie camps during his time as Canadiens head coach. “I wouldn’t see many. Some camps, you’d have two or three that would show you something; speed, engagement and hockey IQ, which is really important.”
It’s a pretty direct shot at the Canadiens’ former director of scouting, Trevor Timmins and former general manager Marc Bergevin; as Therrien admitted that he didn’t have very much to work with when it came to development.
Timmins doesn’t have the cleanest resume regarding draft success, especially regarding the club’s ability to hit on their first-round picks during the last decade. However, during Therrien’s tenure, he had a very young group of players under his tutelage like Brendan Gallagher, Galchenyuk, P.K. Subban, Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi; all 23 years of age or less during his tenure.
Granted, the Montreal Canadiens switched from rebuilding to playoff contention in an instant; forcing Bergevin to trade picks or prospects to help the team “load up” for the playoffs. That being said, Therrien slamming the Canadiens’ ability to draft quality players was not something many saw coming; given Therrien’s tendency to lean on veterans as an NHL coach.
See Therrien’s comment at the 29-minute mark.