Unless you were one of the few at Game 7 in Detroit, chances are you were screaming your face off in a bar or the comfort of your own living room at the seconds ticked down to triple zeros. At that moment all of Penguins nation breathed a sigh of relief and reveled in the notion that this team of kids were in fact Stanley Cup champs. With the exception of the obvious - Bill Guerin, Chris Kunitz and other recent additions within the past season - we've seen these kids grow up from basement dwellers into the Stanley Cup champs they are today. We all know they're still "young," in both hockey years and otherwise, but there's almost this sense of family about the team. Am I right?
One guy knows all about that, more so than any of us. He watched Game 7 on TV just like any of us and felt the emotions of a Stanley Cup win from the comfort of his own home. The only difference is, he was once closer than any of us will probably ever get to the Cup and his emotions weren't necessarily positive ones. He literally took these kids in as rookies from 2005 - 2008 and watched them evolve well throughout last year's loss in the Finals. We are, of course, talking about Michel Therrien.
In days following the Cup win, more articles, posts and stories hit the press and web faster than some of us knew what to do with them. Some stated the obvious -Penguins win, Pens are champs, etc. - while others jumped right off and took a look at personal player journies to get there. By sheer volume alone, some of these stories were buried, lost or at times even ignored. How many times can you REALLY keep reading about Game 7?
On July 31, one story in particular regarding Michel Therrien's reaction to the Cup likely slipped past the eyes of many Penguins fans I'm sure. This doesn't necessarily mean it wasn't touched upon in various articles coming out of Pittsburgh, but I'm specifically citing this individual article. Now, with thanks once again to our residential French-to-English translator Becky, we can catch a glimpse of Michel Therrien's reaction to the Cup. You'll notice that, despite having a moderate sense of bitterness (seriously, who wouldn't?), he holds no ill will toward the team, nor does the team hold any toward him. Or am I just reading that wrong?
You be the judge.
From Radio Canada (direct story link):
Unable to watch the celebration
Michel Therrien wasn't able to watch his successor Dan Bylsma raise the Stanley Cup...
The former coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins did, of course, follow the journey of his former protégés, but he had to turn off the TV at the--particularly cruel--moment of celebration.
Therrien, in very good spirits, made this revelation Thursday on the television show Bons baisers de France [Best Wishes from France]. "When you work with young players and you watch their progress... Last year we were just two wins from the Cup! I remember the first time in the Final: it didn't matter what I said to the guys, they were just so nervous."
Therrien was pleased, however, that a number of his former players, as well as owner Mario Lemieux, called him to thank him for his role in their conquest of the Stanley Cup. Of course, France Beaudoin [presumably the host of the TV show] couldn't help asking the former skipper of the Montreal Canadiens if he was still bitter about his dismissal. "My psychologist told me that I was correct, but now I wear long sleeves," he said, joking. "Of course I am bitter."
The circumstances of his departure
The French-Canadian coach didn't see his February 15th dismissal coming. After all, he had been a candidate for the Jack Adams trophy in 2006-2007, and his trip to the Stanley Cup final the next season had earned him a three-year contract.
"In December, things were not going so well. We had nine payers injured; you replace them with players who are not ready for the NHL. When the bicycle chain comes off, it's not that easy to put it back on.
"At the time I was fired, things had been going better for a couple of weeks. Then we play a poor game in Toronto and the general manager gives me the news. You pack your bags and you are at the airport an hour later. You get home, no one in your family knows what's happened."
Therrien still hopes to return to the NHL since he feels that his frank approach is "a good formula."
In closing, the former coach was asked, "If you were Bob Gainey, would you have gone out and gotten Hal Gill?" Therrien didn't respond, settling instead for a hearty laugh.
And just for an added bit of nostalgia, Becky was kinda enough to add a few quips from Marc-Andre Fleury's blog from back in February regarding Therrien's departure:
Despite the fact that we went to the Stanley Cup final as recently as last year, Michel lost his job. He took the fall for the lack of success of our team. If we weren't winning enough, it wasn't Michel's fault. He's not the one wearing skates. The players, myself first of all, take part of the blame.
I can assure you that there was no group in the dressing room that wanted his dismissal.