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Therrien vs. Subban
The Habs go into the weekend in second place, one point behind the Penguins with a game in hand. The Canadiens lost to Buffalo 3 – 2 in overtime on Tuesday night and dominated the Islanders 5 – 2 on Thursday. But all the talk this week has been about Michel Therrien and P.K. Subban. It all started in the overtime period against Buffalo when P.K. went to make an open ice hit on the Sabres Mark Pyksyk and missed, badly. For some unknown reason, referee Frederic L’Ecuyer called a penalty on Subban for high-sticking. It was a bad play on Subban’s part, taking himself out of the play, and maybe even a little dangerous, but there was no high stick. Regardless, Buffalo scored on the power play and won the game. Therrien responded after the game, “It’s a bad penalty, especially with the effort the guys did in the second and third periods. We’re going to take care of that and make sure it doesn’t happen again.” What is that, a veiled threat to Subban? Hasn’t Therrien learned not to call out your players in public? Subban has been nothing but brilliant this year for the Habs. He’s got nine goals so far to lead all NHL defensemen, and has to be considered as one of the top contenders for Norris Trophy. From the banning of Subban and Carey Price’s triple-low-five celebration at the beginning of the year, to this singling out of Subban for the loss, Therrien seems to want to show Subban who’s boss, with an “it’s my way or the highway” attitude. All it’s going to do it drive a wedge between Subban and Therrien and create friction in the dressing room.
It continued on to Thursday night against the Islanders. In the second period, after Subban jumped on the ice a little too soon on a line change, the Habs were called for too many men. Michael Ryder served the penalty, and Subban found himself on the ice for most of the penalty kill, and then sitting on the bench for much of the rest of the second period. Another message from Therrien? At least this time he didn’t single out Subban by name, and he sat David Desharnais as well. “I didn’t like the chemistry out there,” Therrien explained. P.K. responded with the tying goal and then added one more in the third. After the game, it was pointed out that Subban did not seem very happy, especially after scoring two goals and winning the game. “No, I’m happy. It was a tough game.” I am worried that Therrien is simply trying to break Subban, trying to stifle his confidence and youthful exuberance. It’ll be a sad day for the Habs and their fans if he succeeds.
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Francis Bouillon signed a one-year contract extension for $1.5 million, which keeps him with the Habs through the 2013-14 season. At 37 years old, this contract may allow Bouillon to finish his career in Montreal, which is just where he started back in 1999-00. Bouillon finished his junior career as captain of the Granby Predateurs in 1996, playing for Michel Therrien and winning the Memorial Cup. He then moved up through the ECHL, IHL and the AHL before signing with the Canadiens in 1999. Bouillon played nine seasons with the Habs before signing with the Nashville Predators in 2009. With Michel Therrien behind the bench for this season, it’s not surprising that Bouillon is back with the Habs. At 5’8” and 200 lbs., Bouillon may be one of the smaller defenseman in the NHL, but is one of the strongest, earning him nicknames like the Bull or the Tank. Habs GM Marc Bergevin may be looking to keep Bouillon’s veteran presence around to tutor Trevor (Director of Scouting) Timmon’s young defense picks coming up. Guys like Jarred Tinordi, Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Josiah Didier, Magnus Nygren, Colin Sullivan and Darren Dietz.
Marc Bergevin also announced the signing of Darren Dietz, Montreal’s fifth pick in the 2011 draft, to a three-year contract. Dietz, 6’1” 195 lbs., has been playing with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, racking up 24 goals and 34 assists to lead all WHL defensemen in scoring. Dietz, a native of Medicine Hat, Alberta, will report to the Hamilton Bulldogs next season.
Frank Selke, Jr.
Sad news for Habs fans as former Canadiens executive and Hockey Night in Canada intermission host Frank Selke, Jr. died Monday at the age of 83.
Selke Jr., the son of legendary Habs GM, Frank Selke Sr., was to Canadiens fans what Ward Cornell was to Leafs fans, the face of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday nights. Selke Jr., the Habs Director of Publicity from 1951 to 1965, hosted the Habs intermissions for most of the 1960s, and from time to time took his turn “up in the booth” with another Habs legend, play-by-play man Danny Gallivan. After leaving the Habs, Selke Jr. went to become the Oakland Seals’ President and GM from1969 to 1971. He left there to become the Vice-President of Canadian Sports Network, the producers of Hockey Night in Canada until 1992. After retiring from HNIC in 1992, he became the Executive Vice-President and a Director of Special Olympics Canada, an organization Selke Jr. had been involved with, in one capacity or another, since 1969. The Special Olympics Canada organization called Frank Selke Jr. “their greatest ambassador” for 44 years.