Therrien joins "second chance" club
It's a select group of men who get the honour of coaching the Montreal Canadiens, and Michel Therrien on Tuesday joined an even more exclusive list.
Therrien is the sixth man given a second shot as Canadiens head coach, joining Newsy Lalonde, Leo Dandurand, Cecil Hart, Claude Ruel and, to a lesser extent, Bob Gainey, who, as GM, held the fort after firing Claude Julien in 2004-05 and Guy Carbonneau in 2008-09.
Can you go home again?
If the measurement is championships, you could make a sweeping statement that "second chance" coaches tend to not have a lot of success. Problem is, every year 118 teams in four North American team sports fail to win a title, meaning that first timers fail and fail some more.
A snapshot then, of some modern occurrences of coaches back with the same franchise:
In the NHL, Paul Maurice had a second, less successful stint at coach of the Carolina Hurricanes between 2008 and early the past season after guiding the club to the Stanley Cup final in 2002.
Familiarity has bred contentment on more than one occasion for New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello.
New Jersey started the 2010-11 season a woeful 10-29-2. Since then, they've gone 88-47-9 in regular season and playoff games.
The man who helped jumpstart that resurgence with a 29-17-3 ledger last season was Jacques Lemaire, helped by assistant coach Larry Robinson. The ninth winningest coach in NHL history, Lemaire led the Devils to an upset win over Detroit to take the Stanley Cup in 1995.
It was the first of three Cups under three different bench bosses for the franchise. Robinson was head coach for a championship in 2000, but was fired a couple years later.
Lamoriello summoned Robinson again in 2005 when the third Cup winning coach, Pat Burns, was stricken with cancer. Unfortunately for all concerned, Robinson lasted less than half a season, burned out by the demands of the job.
He's still with the Devils as an assistant, although the prospect of a 10th Stanley Cup ring appears to be slipping away against Los Angeles.
Don't forget Slats
Generally speaking, second go-rounds as coach in the NHL in the post-expansion era have come from men who were general managers or had established power within the front office. This list would include the likes of Emile Francis (New York Rangers), Bob McCammon (Philadelphia), Bob Pulford (Chicago), Harry Neale (Vancouver), and Bryan Murray (Ottawa).
None won Cups.
Here's one that often gets lost in the mists of time: Glen Sather, pre-dynasty years.
Few outside of Edmonton remember that it appeared Sather would coach just one season in the NHL after the move from the WHA. When named GM, Sather handed the reins as coach of the Oilers ahead of the 1980-81 campaign to Bryan Watson.
But the Oilers went 4-9-5 out of the gate under the man they called "Bugsy", and Sather went behind the bench again, not stepping back again until nearly a decade and four Stanley Cups later. Watson stayed as an assistant for a time before launching a successful restaurant business in the 1980s.
As far as other North American sports leagues go, Joe Gibbs in 2004 returned to the Washington Redskins' sidelines after 12 years away but could not achieve anything approaching the success that saw him win three Super Bowls the first time around.
Shell, Nelson linked
Washington went just 30-34 in four seasons with Gibbs back, going 0-2 in the playoffs.
Here's a strange coincidence: After their respective 1994-95 seasons, Don Nelson left the Golden State Warriors and Art Shell was let go by the Raiders.
Ahead of the 2006 season, both came back to Northern California for another kick with those same franchises (Shell's Raiders had moved back to Oakland from Los Angeles). Nelson lasted four more years but never won a playoff round, while Shell was gone after a depressing 2-14 season.
Further down the coast, the singular Phil Jackson again proved exception to the rule. After a one-year absence — Rudy Tomjanovich had health problems and couldn't keep the job — Jackson added two more trophies to his crowded mantle with the Los Angeles Lakers after health problems saw step down from the job.
But without question, the undisputed kings of the second-chance saloon were George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees.
Billy Martin, Bob Lemon, Gene Michael, Yogi Berra (20-year gap!) and Lou Pineilla all were re-hired as Yankee skippers.
Such was the craziness of the Bronx Zoo that even Lemon replaced Martin in 1978, P.A. announcer Bob Sheppard told a stunned Yankee Stadium crowd that in 1980 Lemon would move upstairs, with the dugout to be manned by … Billy Martin.
Martin famously enjoyed, or endured depending on one's perspective, four additional stints with the club.
While Martin and Lemon piloted the Yanks to championships, those occurred in their first tenures.
With files from The Canadian Press