ESPN compiled their list of coaches and where they rank, broken into such aptly named categories as "The Elite", "The Proven", "The Jury's Still Out" (?), "The Suspect" and the "How Do We Know Yet?" (for the new coaches). Michel Therrien seems to have taken a slight beating from ESPN's Terry Frei, especially when you consider how quickly he turned this team around...
Therrien was listed under "The Proven", with this little anecdote of description:
Michel Therrien, Pittsburgh
I almost didn't put him here, in part because of his whining during the Finals. But all in all, you can't knock his work with the young Penguins, despite the reality that this was a powerhouse waiting to happen. And if you know his background -- as a phone company worker and assistant coach, he talked with Laval coach Bob Hartley about practice plans from the top of telephone poles -- it's easy to root for him.
Whining during the Finals? Maybe I'm just dealing with old age, or perhaps I've chosen to block it out of my mind, but will someone please tell me when he complained?
ESPN has this inane ability, unlike most pundits, to cover their ground accordingly. At first they mention how they almost forgot to put him there because he whined, and then they end it with how it's so easy to root for him. If it's so easy to root for Therrien, then how come you almost forgot him?
At least a former Penguin made it as well:
Randy Carlyle, Anaheim
This is his first NHL job, but the former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman has coached a champion and shown poise and aplomb.
And this is what it looks like when your friends start to coach:
Barry Melrose, Tampa Bay
This is in no way, shape or form a knock on our former ESPN colleague. Somebody should have coaxed him out of Bristol a long time ago. But he hasn't been a head coach since that two-seasons-plus stint with the Kings -- the one that began with a run to the Finals -- ended 13 years ago.
Alright, I don't want to copy over the entire list. Go check it out for yourself and say what you will here.
Personally, I think Therrien gets a bad rap. If Brooks Orpik hated playing for Therrien so much, why did he re-sign? Because he wants to win. Therrien doesn't sugar coat anything, he doesn't let guys off easy and he'll use the media to his advantage as an extra way of motivating a player (see also: Ryan Whitney). The guy came to Pitt with one thing in mind: win. For a team that has struggled through near bankruptcy, been annihilated in more ways than you can count for a few straight years and looking to move up and out into a new arena soon, a guy like Therrien is the perfect ingredient for victory.