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Can Michel Therrien become the right man for the job?

Michel Therrien has a great regular-season record in his second stint with the Habs, and sounds rejuvenated heading into the new campaign. But will the Habs continue to grow under his tutelage?

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

If you coach the Montreal Canadiens, you're going to get criticized. Heavily.

Ask Michel Therrien, who has been vilified in light of his results over the past few years. The criticisms hinge on antiquated tactics that aren't conducive to positive possession, tactics that rely on seemingly superhuman goaltending and a lot of blocked shots. They are also tactics that don't lend themselves to scoring goals. It's been covered extensively.

Even the most loathing fan should know Therrien isn't going anywhere unless things really unravel during the upcoming regular season. When it comes to the playoffs, though, any finish that's short of the third round is a failure, and would likely force the brass to enact an exhaustive review of the coaching staff.

The players have high expectations too. They want to win now, and the changes have been made to the roster that management felt were necessary to get to the next step. Zack Kassian and Alexander Semin are risks, but if they produce at a percentage close to their potential, they'll be qualified replacements for Brandon Prust, Rene Bourque, Jiri Sekac and the other departed players from last year's roster.

It seemed at this year's golf tournament that Therrien might actually be looking to make some adjustments. I'm sure he's as ready to win as anybody; to shed those criticisms, and prove that he's as capable a coach as his regular-season record shows.

There is a chance this season may not see the Habs make progress. There is a reason that taking on players like Semin and Kassian is considered to be risky, as it could be the last chance for those players to have the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to an NHL team. If the two newcomers aren't able to supply the secondary scoring the Habs so desperately need to get to the next level, and both experiments backfire, it's likely the Habs tread water this season. But it's unlikely Therrien sinks as long as the team keeps it's head above water.

The only way Therrien leaves this year is if a failure can be attributed to him, and that will require a full and relatively healthy season from the players. Whether his comments at the golf tournament were reflective of him changing his philosophy or not remains to be seen. No management team is going to look at a system that is producing wins and dismiss the coach, no matter how flawed the approach. But if he does deploy the players in his traditional fashion - that mis-labelled defensive style - the team could fail, particularly if Price has even a modicum of regression.

Then again, if Therrien changes his tactics and deploys scoring players in a way that emphasizes their speed and skill, maybe it won't be a simple recipe for a good record. The Habs have talent in spades, but high-flying systems aren't really how Therrien has found the degree of success that he has. It's not unreasonable to think that if he changes his approach that it could fail, because it's simply not how his Canadiens have won games.

At that point - if Therrien does change his style and the team falters - if he tries to be the coach this team needs and the losses pile up - then the writing will be on the wall, and he'll be dismissed. But as far as the regular season goes, that's about the only way a coaching change will be brought about.