The Penguins signed a three-year extension with head coach Michel Therrien. The deal will keep him behind the Penguins' bench until the 2010-11 season.
EN Says: We love this signing. Therrien inherited a mess from Ed Olczyk during the 2005-06 season and the franchise has done nothing but improve since that point. Granted, Therrien has had a roster of talent to deal with that could rival some international teams, but several coaches have failed when put in similar circumstances. (Example: Just about any Rangers coach from 1997 until 2004.)
Therrien has a lot of detractors. We don't know why. All he has done here is win. He directed the team to its first divisional title in nearly a decade despite having a roster full of AHL-caliber talent at points during the season.
There is talk that Therrien can be rough with his players. Michel Therrien is hardly a cute and cuddly person at the hockey rink. But that didn't stop Brooks Oprik, a player who's name is often brought up when Therrien's people skills are discussed, from signing a multi-year deal at a perceived discount. It certainly didn't stop Marc-Andre Fleury from doing the same despite the fact Therrien didn't exactly treat him in a very gentle fashion when he struggled early last season.
Does Therrien do things that make you scratch your head? Definitely. We bellowed out countless vulgarities during the Michel Ouellet "era." And we're sure we weren't the only ones wondering why Ryan Whitney and Kris Letang were paired up during most of the playoffs. But you can't question the winning.
And anyone who can go off like this in a press conference is more than worth keeping around:
UPDATE: We talked to a Penguins official today and confirmed that Student Rush will be limited to only four games this season. All things considered, it's commendable of the Penguins to continue doing it in some fashion, even if it's scaled back. They could probably print any price they want on those 1,600 tickets. (400 seats will be available for each games.) Instead, they're letting college and high school kids snag them up for $20 each. Lots of other teams in far worse situations in regards to ticket sales don't even do this.
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)