CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, PA — Michel Therrien will live in Penguins lore. Despite coaching the team before pervasive social media, Therrien is still a frequent highlight for his occasionally gruff assessment of his players. Therrien was a character and he coached the young Penguins core to their first Prince of Wales Trophy and Stanley Cup Final.
Sunday night, Therrien was at the UPMC Lemieux complex to participate in a charity hockey game spawned by the Tree of Life tragedy. Penguins and Steelers alumni skated against past and present members of the Israeli national team. He spoke with a small group of us old reporters including this one from Pittsburgh Hockey Now.
Therrien’s 2007-08 Penguins team fell short in their first Final appearance. They lost in six games against the Detroit Red Wings, but Therrien knew the core including Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury was special. The coach spoke with some pride about his former students.
“Passion,” said Therrien. “I remember, they were teenagers almost. I had to keep them out of the rink because they’d spend their days at the rink. This was all they knew.”
“You look at them, 13 or 14 years after, the one thing you can tell with these guys, they’ve still got the passion. Marc-Andre got the passion. Sid’s got the passion. Letang and Geno [sic], they’re passionate guys.”