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What happened to "No Excuses?"

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No excuses may be the Canadiens motto, but management certainly didn't have a problem employing excuses yesterday.

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The Montreal Canadiens season is over, and now we get to spend a whole offseason talking about what went wrong and how it could be fixed. But before I personally delve into player analysis and draft targets, there is something else that I need to get off my chest. I was pretty upset with Geoff Molson yesterday, and that took time away from being able to discuss two individuals in control of the day-to-day.

Yes, they would be Michel Therrien and Marc Bergevin. Ever since I watched that press conference, all I can think about is the team's motto. That sign in the room that has been featured prominently on 24CH. Large letters proclaiming with the utmost certainty that there are "NO EXCUSES." I suppose that coming up with that motto was a whole lot easier than actually living by it.

It took mere minutes into the season-ending presser for them to start making excuses. Carey Price went down, and that was too much to overcome. A bunch of other guys got injured, and that was a lot to deal with. They tried to make some big trades, but they were rejected.

And that crown jewel of excuses was a prevalent topic for them from the very start of the conference.

For an organization that boasts "NO EXCUSES" as it's motto, management sure seems content to ignore it. Maybe they only mean for that motto to pertain to the players, because it seems that everyone beyond them is permitted to hide behind whatever collection of excuses they can come up with.

Yes, the injuries - in particular that of Carey Price - were a major problem this year. That cannot be denied, but the simple fact is that good teams can get through these things. Last year, the New York Rangers pushed their way into the playoffs without Henrik Lundqvist. If a team is well put together by the GM, and coached the right way, injuries can be overcome.

Maybe the Canadiens would have made the playoffs with a healthy Carey Price. I won't deny that possibility because I've seen the man play, and he could feasibly make that happen. But that would have required him to stand on his head. That's not a recipe for long-term success, and it doesn't bode well for a good run in the playoffs either.

Their power play ranked 25th in the entire league. There were numerous games where some better success on special teams could easily have gotten them wins, but their futility in those situations really hurt them. They often looked more dangerous while killing penalties, which suggests some serious system issues.

They finished 16th in goals scored and 21st in goals against. Yes, Price would have helped with the latter quite a bit, but again, something has to be wrong with the system being employed if that is the team's reality without him. I think he's the best player in the world, but this season conclusively proved that they rely on him too much. This is problematic

But enough about Price. Getting back to that press conference, there were two particular questions fielded by Michel Therrien that left me rather furious.

  • When asked very directly why Alex Galchenyuk's ice time was down from last year despite his improved production; he danced around the question without providing anything even close to resembling an actual answer.
  • When asked very directly why David Desharnais was trusted with more power play time than Galchenyuk despite being out-produced by the latter at a 2:1 rate; he evaded the question without providing anything even close to resembling an actual answer.
Alex Galchenyuk is show ready, and he proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt this season. He should play centre, he should have been doing it all season, and he absolutely should be given more power play time than the likes of David Desharnais. Therrien doesn't want to answer questions like these, because they truly expose his shortcomings.

Perhaps he should have listened to that second question a little more intently. If he had picked up on that gap in production between the two players sooner, they may have been able to ice a power play better than 25th in the league. They may have won more games. They may have at least given their fans a unit that didn't cause them to jeer. But I digress.

Marc Bergevin wasn't much better about answering direct questions either.
For Therrien and Bergevin to come out, with the support of the team's owner no less, and basically heap the whole failed season on the Price injury is ridiculous. For them to then dance around questions of player usage, trade rumours, and other hot button issues  is disrespectful to the media, and more importantly the fans.

It was the most frustrating press conference in recent memory. It left fans with more questions than answers, and did very little to restore any confidence moving forward.

NO EXCUSES, right ?

Except for when said excuses are too good to pass up, I suppose.