It happens in all sports and on all levels. A team struggles and the person that gets blamed is the head coach.
The Penguins organization and GM Ray Shero have decided to part ways with Michel Therrien coming just a day after the Penguins embarrassing 6-2 loss in which they gave up a 2-0 lead, and a five goal third period.
I think that this firing is a way for the Penguins organization to place blame on just one person rather than a team in its entirety. I am not saying that Therrien has no part in this, but to fire him because a team is playing like they just do not care is not right.
Therrien turned the Penguins around 180 degrees last year, helping to coach them to the Stanley Cup Finals. He came into this year with almost the same team as last year, but was plagued with injuries all season.
There is no doubt that the Penguins have played poorly this year. The poor play has ranged from lack of shots taken by the offense, to a poor power play, to inconsistent goaltending. It has been one thing or the other this whole year, and it finally came to the point where something needed to happen.
When Shero gave his comments on why he fired Therrien, he stated that the team was not going in the right direction, which is the most blatant and obvious thing he could have said. He should have said that the Penguins players are the reason why they now have a new coach. Blame needs to be put on everybody in a team sport when somebody is fired who is not even playing in the games.
I am tired of teams axing coaches because "the players" are not playing well at all. Coaches are just scapegoats for organizations, because forbid a GM calls out players for playing terrible and them being the reason why the team is in 10th position in the conference.
Like I said before, I am not saying Therrien is innocent in all of this. I personally did not like his lineup changes for every game. Players cannot perform consistently and get into a grove with line mates if they are playing with different ones each night.
One other thing is the Penguins inability to hold and secure leads. They have lost too many games after having a lead. This one has to go both ways with a team. The coach has to be able to keep his team focused, while the players have to keep up their intensity level as well.
Along those lines is that we are talking about professional athletes. The Penguin players do not need to be told to keep up the hard work. They have been playing this game for a long time, and have worked hard to get to the NHL, so why would they need told to keep doing so?
I do not think that the Penguins organization made the right move on this one. Therrien was a class act and a good coach. If the Penguins stumble more down the stretch, Shero is going to look bad, and Penguins fans are going to be very unhappy with the organization more than they are now.