Michel Therrien Fired by Pittsburgh Penguins: What Took So Long?

Matt TrevorsContributor IFebruary 16, 2009

Well, the ink has been dry on my first article “What’s wrong with the Pittsburgh Penguins” for about five weeks now, and the Penguins front office has finally answered the poll question by firing Therrien. 


In that poll, I listed three options for getting the Penguins back on track—fire Therrien, stop juggling lines, or have the boys skate for a full 60 minutes. 


Of the people that answered the poll firing Therrien and skating a full sixty tied for first; I guess Shero had the tie-breaking vote by following through with the firing of the head coach. 


I can’t say I disagree with the decision, but I think the timing is atrocious.  Firing a coach with twenty five games left in the season and five points out of the playoffs says one thing to me—the Penguins head office had absolutely no faith in Therrien leading the Penguins into the playoffs. 


According to the Penguins radio broadcast team they have changed coaches midseason eight times prior; making playoff appearances in four of those eight occasions.  Only one time have they made a change later in the season and they went three games under five hundred for the remainder of said season. 


I think we can all agree, three games under five hundred is not going to result in a playoff berth for this year’s Pittsburgh Penguins. 


In the past five weeks the Pens have had some pretty stellar wins (2-1 shootout win over the Sharks, come-from-behind win vs. the Lightning) and some pretty blood-boiling losses (the 6–2 loss to the Leafs comes to mind) along the way and I can’t help but ask: 


What the heck took so long? 


I’ve seen no change in the Penguins consistency, they certainly are not skating a full sixty minutes game in and game out, and basically every time Therrien got in trouble, he switched up the lines.  So what’s different between now and then?  What was the straw that broke Shero’s back? 


I can’t see inside Shero’s mind, but I think a 6-2 trouncing by a sub five hundred team will get any GM’s blood pressure up. 


Maybe we’ll never know for sure, but I know one thing—Shero should officially start worrying about his job.  After all, he just offered Therrien a three-year extension, and he was accredited with the Hossa trade.  Obviously both decisions did not pan out.


As I put the finishing touches on this article the Pens are trailing the NHL’s basement dwelling NY Islanders 1-0—not exactly how the new head coach, Dan Bylsma, pictured his debut unfolding.