P.K. Subban vs. Michel Therrien: Where top dog meets lame duck

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Greg Wyshynski
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 (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It’s gotten to the point where one legitimately wonders what, exactly, would warrant Michel Therrien’s firing this season from the Montreal Canadiens. 

Would he get fired for going 8-23-1 since Dec. 3? No, he’s very much not fired at the moment, and that is in fact the Habs’ record since Dec. 3.

Would he get fired for mismanaging his personnel, where good centers are playing wing and bad centers are getting more ice time? Where petty message-sending from an ineffective coach has sent star players having terrible seasons deeper into their personal abyss? No, that ship has sailed too.

Would he get fired for someway, somehow sparking a feud with the Canadiens’ most popular and, frankly, unimpeachable player this season because P.K. Subban blew a tire trying to make something happen, a goal was scored by the Colorado Avalanche and the Canadiens lost again on Wednesday night?

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Would he get fired for calling that player “selfish?”

Well, yes, but he probably won’t.

No, at this point, Michel Therrien could write his name in urine at the base of the Jean Beliveau statue outside Bell Centre while smoking his 200th cigarette that hour and screaming “GO LEAFS GO!” and still not get fired. Because what’s the point?

GM Marc Bergevin gave him and his staff a vote of confidence on Jan. 21. Bergevin was rewarded with consecutive losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets and a 4-7 record that’s propped up by a pair of shootout wins.

They’ve now lost three in a row and the wheels are coming off a truck that was already halfway over a cliff: There are accusations they “quit” on Therrien in a loss to Arizona; he bag-skated them before the Colorado game, and in his words it was the most arduous one he’s administered as Canadiens coach; and then, in the loss to the Avalanche, he stapled Subban and Max Pacioretty to the bench with his team needing a goal.

(A word on Pacioretty: atrocious. We thought his offensive bust this season was a result of losing Brendan Gallagher for a stretch, but it’s inexplicable that a player with 76 goals in his last two seasons has had two streaks in which he’s scored one goal in 12 games. Last night after the game, he ducked the media. Subban, knowing his play was going to be called out, talked. One guy wears the ‘C’, the other guy acts like it.)

Taking on P.K. Subban at this point is like engaging in a Twitter war with J.K. Rowling: not only are you going to lose, you will have most of humanity rooting for you to lose.

Did Subban have a good night? No. Is that the exception to the rule this season? Completely.

So there’s telling it like it is and then there’s protecting your star, and if you needed a better indication that Therrien knows he's fiddling while Montreal burns, you’ll notice he picked Option A.

He’s done it before, but his timing was better. Remember back in 2006, when he called the Pittsburgh Penguins “soff?” Hilarious, and important. He challenged a young team, knowing he was there for the long haul.

Last night? Well, unless there’s some of Grandpa’s magic eye medicine in those cigarettes he puffs, there’s no way Therrien doesn’t think he’s a lame duck, is there? Does he really think this team can still make the playoffs and save his job? They have a 5.2-percent chance of making the playoffs. That’s basically Calgary’s chances in the West.

Meanwhile, P.K. was P.K., preparing himself for accusation of “selfishness” causing some kind of locker room rift:

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Some have suggested that this could be the beginning of the end of Subban in Montreal, which smacks of Patrick Roy P.T.S.D. He’s not going anywhere. He loves being a Canadien, as his comments around his eight-year contract would indicate: “I have an opportunity to bring back a feeling to a city that is so hungry for it. This is the greatest organization in hockey. I want to keep the legacy going.” 

P.K. Subban is going to be in Montreal next season, which is more than you can say for Michel Therrien, unless Marc Bergevin is actively participating in career suicide. There’s no point in firing him on Feb. 18 if you weren’t going to fire him on Jan. 21. Let the season spiral the drain, shut down Carey Price, get in the lottery and make a go of it next season.

And when the axe falls on Therrien, the responsibility then falls on Bergevin. To find a coach that can work with the potential on this roster – maybe even one that doesn’t fall into the franchise’s myopic language standards! To find some NHL-caliber centers – maybe even one already on the Habs’ roster, currently playing wing!

To turn an average team that's carried by its all-world goalie (when healthy) and all-world defenseman into the contender we all figured it would be this season. Despite its coach.

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.