The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to a new three-year contract with head coach, Michel Therrien. The new deal will keep Therrien behind the Penguins' bench through the 2010-11 season.
Over the past two seasons the Penguins have gone an impressive 94-51-19 under Therrien, including two consecutive playoffs berth, and one Stanley Cup Finals appearance.
Therrien told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that: "I'm excited to have a new three-year contract with the Penguins and am looking forward to continued success here in Pittsburgh. It is a great hockey city with an outstanding fan base. All of our players comment on how much they love playing in Pittsburgh, and I can tell you that our coaches love coaching in Pittsburgh."
"We still have a lot of work to do, though, because we fell short of our biggest goal last season. Our goal is, and always will be, to win the Stanley Cup."
Penguins' GM Ray Shero commented that Therrien "has done a tremendous job with our team over the past two-and-a-half seasons, developing our young players while leading us to division and conference championships and the Stanley Cup final."
Therrien had one year left on his previous contract, but management felt that based on his success it was time for a new deal, with increased compensation. However, just how much of an increase is still unknown.
Therrien, who will turn 45 years young during the upcoming season, has been criticized by many as not being a "player's coach." His relationships with such Penguins as Brooks Orpik, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Whitney, and even former Penguin Colby Armstrong, have been portrayed to be all negative, all the time.
However, by listening to the players comment about their head coach rather than the media, it's easy to see that everyone respects Therrien for what he has done in Pittsburgh.
Granted, a lot of coaches would have enjoyed success working with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Gonchar, Sykora, and Staal, but it is the way in which Therrien manages his bench that makes him a true player's coach.
Not many coaches would throw their fourth line on the ice late in a tied playoff game. Michel Therrien did just that during the epic three overtime Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Maxime Talbot rewarded his coaches' faith by scoring the tying goal.
Therrien knows how to push the right buttons. He knows that if a guy (Orpik) isn't playing at the level everyone knows he is capable of, putting him on the ice as a fourth-line wing will surely wake him up.
He has to feel that benching Marc-Andre Fleury early in the season, when he was off to a slow start, had to impact his motivation to come back at above 100% after his ankle injury.
He knew that riding the relatively unproven, yet extremely hot goaltender (Conklin) rather than going with the more familiar backup (Sabourin) was the best bet for his team to have success in the absence of the Flower.
Michel Therrien is a player's coach, and he believes that the chemistry of a team is much deeper-rooted than who you are playing with on the ice. That is what makes him a perfect fit as mentor to this young group of Penguins.
Posted With Pictures on Experiencing the Evolution.