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Summarizing the Michel Therrien to New Jersey Devils Rumors & Media Responses

The big rumor has been Michel Therrien may be hired as head coach of the New Jersey Devils.  It's a hot topic among Devils fans and at first glance at these two posts on this blog (among other places online for Devils talk), not many fans are pleased by the idea for one reason or another. So much has transpired in the last 48 hours. 

Therefore, I feel it would be useful to summarize what's out there in terms of the coaching search for the New Jersey Devils.  It certainly would be useful for me. As usual, I will share the results of my curiosity.   Let's take a step back and review how the rumor transpired and what information came out since then (note: all times are EDT):

May 22, 9:39 AM: William DePaoli of InsidePittsburghSports tweeted that Michel Therrien has not heard from New Jersey Devils executives.  Again, Therrien didn't hear from New Jersey back on May 22.  Keep this in the back of your mind when you read the following.

May 26, 6:34-6:35 PM: DePaoli tweeted that Therrien was offered the job by the Devils.  In fact, his next tweet at 6:35 PM said that he was offered the job on Monday, which would have been May 24. This may have led to the following two posts by the Devils beat writers:

May 27, 1:49 PM: Tom Gulitti inquired with the Devils and nobody - including Therrien - was offered a head coaching job.  According to Lou Lamoriello, they've only begun the coaching search just after signing their prospects to new deals.  It is unclear at this point whether the Devils requested and received permission from the Pittsburgh Penguins to talk to Therrien.

May 27, 7:17 PM: Rich Chere posts up a story on about the Devils' coaching search only naming Therrien as possibilities among others like John MacLean, Kirk Muller, Ken Hitchcock, and Guy Carbonneau.  Chere did say that "Therrien is believed to be high on Lamoriello’s list," but there was not much other than that.

Fast forward to yesterday:

June 6, 12:28-12:32 PM: DePaoli drops a bomb on Twitter, stating that Therrien accepted a three year offer and the announcement would come in the following week after the Stanley Cup Finals are over.  He said he didn't report it on his site, waiting on a league source, but he did claim a source close to the available head coach confirmed this (12:31) and that his daughters may stay back in Pittsburgh (12:32). 

Editorial Comment: A head coach with family staying behind at the place of his last coaching job? I'm somehow feeling deja vu for some reason.

Anyway, reaction online sparked - here and here on this site for examples - and so conclusions were jumped to without an annoucement.  Today, was the walk-back of sorts.

June 7, 1:19 AM: Mark Everson of the NY Post has a story on the NJ coaching search. His main point was that Mike Keenan and Craig MacTavish aren't candidates for the New Jersey head coaching job (Aside: I didn't know they were?).  Everson also states that MacLean and Therrien are current favorites for the job. No reason is given as to why they are the favorite. 

While I can't prove it, I can't help but speculate that not many in the hockey world didn't pick up on what DePaoli dropped on Sunday.  To Everson's credit, he did note that there are other candidates and nothing was finalized at all. Just stating who he thinks the favorites are.

As an aside, I'm confused at his slam at "devaluing organizational loyalty" if MacLean is passed up. I didn't know loyalty was a prerequisite for being a head coach in the NHL.  Maybe Everson's pulling for MacLean?

June 7, 5:54 AM:  Motivated by rumors of Therrien (from Sunday) and Ilya Kovalchuk's supposed massive KHL contract offer from SKA St. Petersburg, Tom Gulitti put up this post early on Monday morning, which disputes the "report coming out of Pittsburgh.":  Gulitti confirmed that Therrien was a favorite, but there's nothing to believe that he's been offered a job, much less hired.  As far as what the reports were, I would think that would have to be DePaoli's tweets unless there's someone else out there carrying this news that I'm not aware of. If there is someone else, please let me know.

June 7, 8:53 AM: Rich Chere comes a little later in the morning, but comes with an anvil of a source about the rumor - Lou Lamoriello. Here's the quote from the man who would know best about the situation:

Although the former Canadiens and Penguins coach remains a top candidate for the vacant job, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said he has made no decisions at this point and no offer has been made to anyone.

"We have not picked a coach yet," Lamoriello said this morning. "There has been no decision on anything yet. There are reasons for that."

If this is just a denial, then it's a pretty straight-forward and decisive one.

Chere does go on to note a reason why no decision has been made yet, who he believes the favorites are and Therrien comes up again on the basis of  having recent NHL experience and success of sorts. 

June 7, 1:29 PM:  DePaoli tweets again. Nothing about what Guliti, Chere, or Everson have said. Rather, he actually brings up this interesting statement:

Devils asked permission (granted) to speak to Therrien on May 21 and he has been Devils top target since they began search late that week.

Hmmm.  Does this fit in with DePaoli's other tweets?  

For the last group, I have to go back 6 minutes to something James Mirtle tweeted.

June 7, 1:23 PM:  James Mirtle: "Sounds like Michel Therrien is the leading coaching candidate in New Jersey."

Seems innocous enough, right? TSN's Darren Dreger, a hockey insider on a network that has a huge focus on hockey (meaning, he's not just a dude on the Internet), responds a little later with a really interesting tidbit.

June 7, 2:12 PM: Darren Dreger: "@mirtle. Therrien believes he has a chance."

Really. Therrien believes he has a chance.  Nothing from the Devils, nothing from some other source, just that Therrien thinks he's the guy. That says a lot in my opinion.

The next tweet from Dreger says a lot more and should really put some of the rumors to rest:

June 7, 2:22 PM: Darren Dreger: "Therrien has yet to interview for the coaching job in New Jersey. He may get the call, but hasn't yet."

Other Articles Elsewhere on June 7:  At 11:37 AM, Bruce Ciskie of NHL Fanhouse picks up Everson's and Chere's posts for their story on the Devils' coaching situation.  He does not mention DePaoli.  At 2:25 PM, Greg Wyshynski puts the story as one of the top headlines of Puck Daddy's daily Puck Headlines post.  He links to Everson's and Chere's posts - nothing from DePaoli.  At 5:07 PM, SBNation's NHL section highlights the coaching search and my post which I bring up here because, well, hey, I'm not above self-promotion. Travis links to Chere's post, my post yesterday on possible coaches, and that's it.  Again, nothing from DePaoli.

Overall Thoughts

So let me see if I get this straight:

William DePaoli is clearly plugged into the Pittsburgh sports scene and would logically have his own sources with Therrien as a former head coach of the Penguins. According to what he's tweeted: the Devils got permission on May 21, have already offered Therrien the job on May 24, and tweeted that this was a done deal on June 6 with an announcement coming next week.  While they may only be tweets, they definitely garnered attention.

Looking back at just his tweets, I'm befuddled. Let's assume the Devils did get permission from Pittsburgh on May 21. It's not like either team had anything to do, and it's not like the Penguins had any reason to say no, Dan Bylsma's their man for now.  Back on May 22, Therrien didn't hear from the Devils according to DePaoli.  So the Devils got permission the day before and were wrapped up in other things to not reach out to Therrien the next day? Or even on the same day, just to say "Hello, we got permission to speak to you and we'd like to set up a meeting?" 

Maybe by just a stroke of luck, the Devils contacted him later that day after DePaoli got word and made his tweet. That's a possibility.  Perhaps the Devils talked to him over the weekend. That's a possibility.  Perhaps the Devils made this all happen, going as far as to offer the job, all on Monday, May 24, per DePaoli's tweet on May 26? That's a possibility.  Besides, it was just an offer, it's not unreasonable to think Therrien would talk it over with his family, consider the situation, and then make his decision a week later, in which DePaoli's source picked up on it yesterday.

However, this doesn't square with the other posts and tweets that are out there.  Therrien is only being reported as a favorite for the job and has been mentioned as a candidate more than a few times. According to Gulitti, the Devils "just started" their coaching search which was reported May 27.  This morning, Gulitti disputed the rumors and Chere came out with a quote from Lou himself saying that no one has been offered, much less Therrien.  Everson didn't bite on the rumors and neither did FanHouse, Puck Daddy, SBNation's main NHL section in addition to the NJ-based Devils beat reporters.

What really strikes me is Darren Dreger's tweets.  His second one presents a contradiction to DePaoli's tweets. If Therrien hasn't been interviewed, then how can he logically have been offered a job?  I can see the Devils getting permission early, but assuming it was granted on May 21, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense on the surface that the Devils would not have even interviewed Therrien by now.  Were either party so busy that they couldn't talk in more than 2 weeks?  Really?

I have to ask: Who's right? DePaoli and his source or Dreger and his source?  Moreover, what's right? That the Devils haven't interviewed Therrien; that the Penguins gave the Devils permission on May 21; that the Devils made an offer (well, this isn't true per Lou via Chere); all of this; some of this; or none of this?

The exchange between Mirtle and Dreger is even more enlightening to this mess of a rumor.  Again, I have no reason to believe that DePaoli doesn't have sources or that he would tweet something that he wouldn't have faith in.  Dreger's response to Mirtle's statement was that "Therrien believes he has a chance."  That's not anything definitive outside of Therrien being hopeful on his chances.  Which is fine, I think. I'd be worried if a Devils head coaching candidate wasn't confident in himself about getting the job. 

Allow me to engage in some baseless speculation.  Would it not be possible that Therrien's source heard that Therrien believes he's the favorite and that he will be offered based on past experiences with Lou and the Devils? If they supposedly spoke last summer, then it wouldn't be too far of a guess to say he's a favorite. 


Everson, Gulitti, and Chere have all said he's definitely in the running and that much I can agree with.  He's the only head coach available with recent NHL success by managing the 2007-08 Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals, he has to be in the conversation. That I understand.  I'm not saying whether it'd be a good hire or not though (I was wrong on Lemaire when he was hired, admittedly, said so here), just that I get the logic behind the Devils considering the Therrien for the job.

That he's already been offered the job or will take the job is what I'm struggling with. Therefore, I'm not convinced.

That said, I could be dead wrong by my understanding of the history of this rumor. Maybe there was someone else with information I didn't know.  Maybe some new information will come to light that makes sense of all of this.

Plus, it's entirely possible Therrien will ultimately become the head coach of the New Jersey Devils, vindicating some or all of what DePaoli said.  However, if Darren Dreger, Mark Everson, Tom Gulitti, and Rich Chere are reporting that nothing has been finalized; if other outlets aren't willing to commit to a source of the rumors; and if Lou himself says that no one's been offered; then I think it's a bit silly to expect Michel Therrien as head coach of the New Jersey Devils.  

In any case, the whole point of this wasn't to show where DePaoli's tweet's don't mesh with what other reporters have said.   The real point is that when rumors get started, things can spiral out of control, conclusions are jumped to before the facts come out, and so that is why I'm usually skeptical of most reports from insiders that aren't widely reputable.  That's why I've taken this whole episode of Therrien-to-Devils with a grain of salt.

I must conclude that my fellow Devils fans should do the same until some new information comes out.  

Let me know what you think of all of this.  If you have any other information that makes more sense out of this, please link to it in the comments.  I'm not going to worry about Therrien in the meantime.