By Ian Palmer
In NHL News, the Montreal Canadiens made a couple of offseason moves to help them gear up for the 2014/15 NHL season on June 14 by re-signing head coach Michel Therrien and trading forward Louis Leblanc. General manager Marc Bergevin announced the 50-year-old Therrien has been given a new four-year deal while LeBlanc was sent to the Anaheim Ducks for a conditional fifth-round pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Therrien is currently in his second stint as the Canadiens coach and just finished his second season in it after returning to the club in the 2012/13 season. He had spent parts of the previous four seasons coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canadiens have gone 75-42-13 over the past two regular seasons under Therrien. They made it as far as the Eastern Conference Final this year after going 46-28-8, but were ousted by the New York Rangers in six games. They finished the regular campaign with 100 points, which was their best total since 2007/08, and was good enough for third place in the Atlantic Division.
Since Therrien had one year to go on his previous contract he’s now signed with the Habs until the end of the 2018/19 campaign. Therrien was happy with the deal and said for teams to be successful in the NHL they need to have stability and he sees this move as a definite vote of confidence. He added that it’s important the team has progressed and improved over the past two years and if it can continue to do so it could result in a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in the near future.
Therrien’s first stint with the Canadiens began back in 2000 when he was hired to take over the reins from Alain Vigneault. However, he was let go in January of 2003 after Montreal struggled out of the gate in the 2002/03 season with an 18-19-5-4 record. He’s been behind the Canadiens’ bench for a total of 320 regular-season contests over the years and has led the team to a record of 152-119-49. Therrien may be searching for a new assistant coach next season if Gerard Gallant ends up being hired as the new head coach of the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have interviewed him for the vacant position and he’s one of several candidates.
As for the 23-year-old Leblanc, the Canadiens took him with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2009 draft. He has played just 50 games with the team since then and has posted five goals and five assists for 10 points. He appeared in eight games with the NHL side this year and failed to register a point. The right-handed center spent most of the 2013/14 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) where he racked up 10 goals and 18 assists for 28 points in 62 games.
Bergevin said that after spending the last few years with the Canadiens organization the club felt that moving Leblanc was the best thing to do for all concerned. Bergevin feels Leblanc can resurrect his career with another NHL franchise since he didn’t have the opportunity to play many games with Montreal. However, Leblanc could find it an even harder task cracking the talented Ducks’ lineup.