MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens wasted no time locking up the head coach who has led them to the Eastern Conference final.
Montreal re-signed Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension Saturday, two weeks after the Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“It really shows the stability that (general manager) Marc Bergevin and (owner) Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens,” said Therrien on a conference call. “We’ve progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It’s a sign of confidence.”
Therrien, who has coached the Canadiens for the past two seasons, has one year remaining on his contract before the extension kicks in.
The 50-year-old led Montreal to the playoffs twice in the last two years, falling to the Ottawa Senators in five games in the first round of the 2012-13 post-season and following that with a six-game East final loss to the New York Rangers this year.
Therrien said his team still needs to learn how to be a successful playoff team, and referred to the Chicago Blackhawks and Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings as examples.
“We have a good group of young veterans. I really like the chemistry at the core of our team. The players have really bought into the team concept,” said Therrien, who offered little on pending free agents Andrei Markov and captain Brian Gionta.
“I’m really satisfied with the progress we did the last two years. Regarding if there’s going to be any changes for the next year, that’s the business of the game. And I know one thing for sure, Marc Bergevin is working really hard to improve our hockey team.”
Therrien’s new contract wasn’t a surprise. Bergevin had previously confirmed that Therrien would be back behind Montreal’s bench.
Therrien coached the Canadiens for parts of the 2000-03 seasons, and was 77-77-22-14 over that span. He was 75-42-13 over the past two years.
Prior to his second stint with Montreal, Therrien coached the Pittsburgh Penguins for parts of four seasons, making it to the Stanley Cup final in 2008 before losing to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
He’s hopeful the Canadiens take another step forward next season.
“We’re constantly adjusting,” he said. “We do it from one month to the next, and from one year to the next. It’s so important to adjust and make sure you’re getting the message across.”
© The Canadian Press, 2014