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Rene Bourque's complaints about Michel Therrien ring hollow

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Some players have some legitimate gripes with Michel Therrien, but Rene Bourque isn't one of them.

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There are loads of criticisms that can be levelled at Michel Therrien. He favours certain players for baffling reasons, the tactics he has the Montreal Canadiens using are 20 years out of date, his coaching style is boring, and downright ugly to watch, but he's not to blame for everything.

"Michel (Therrien) and I didn’t have the best relationship. We didn’t communicate. I didn’t know what he wanted from me, or vise versa." -Rene Bourque

No one can be sure what Rene Bourque was trying to achieve when speaking to the media in Columbus when he told them he didn't have a good relationship with Therrien, but looking at the evidence at hand, it just looks like an excuse.

There are some players who Therrien has given a rough ride over his tenure in Montreal. Lars Eller is the poster boy for that, but a lot of the rough ride Eller was given was forcing him to carry Bourque for large parts of the previous two seasons.

In spite of putting up approximately 22 points per 82 games played in the regular season in Montreal, and just 39 points in 142 games, Bourque was rarely benched, and never really lost his spot within the top-nine forwards. In fact, for nearly 40% of the two seasons before this one, Bourque was on the defacto second line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Gionta had his share of critics in Montreal, but over those two years, he still paced for 42 points per 82 games, while Plekanec paced for 49. On average, Bourque's most common linemates were producing at twice the rate he was, and playing significantly tougher minutes when apart from him.

It's not like Bourque was being stuck on the fourth line with a bunch of pluggers.

Therrien didn't exactly deny Bourque opportunities to score either, as despite having the ninth best point production on the powerplay among Habs forwards, he was consistently used on the second unit. In fact, from the lockout shortened season in 2013 to the end of last season, he logged more poweplay time per game than Alex Galchenyuk (1.66 minutes per game vs 1.61), while producing nearly a full point less per 60 minutes played. Eller meanwhile, played just 0.96 minutes per game on the powerplay, when he was putting up better production than either of them.

If anything, it could be argued that Therrien was far too patient with Bourque.

And I don't really buy that Bourque didn't know what Therrien wanted from him either. I can see how Therrien is an old school coach that doesn't talk to his players on a personal level very much, but what Bourque was tasked to do was remarkably simple and obvious. He wasn't a puck carrier by any stretch, so he was to drive the net off the rush to create havoc, and backcheck hard if it didn't work. Be a north-south player. He had very little responsibility on his lines, he just couldn't score... At all.

At 33-years-old, after several concussions, Rene Bourque just isn't the player he once was. His peak was short, and his decline has been long mostly due to him having an absurdly long contract, otherwise he may be out of the NHL right now. Bourque's struggles have spanned four different coaches now, on to a fifth. But yeah, it's Therrien's fault.