PITTSBURGH – Michel Therrien, who led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to a 21-1-2-1 start in the American Hockey League season, has been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was announced today by General Manager Craig Patrick. Therrien replaces Eddie Olczyk, who will remain with the organization in another capacity.
Therrien, 42, former coach of the Montreal Canadiens, will be joined in Pittsburgh by three new staff members – assistant coach Mike Yeo, strength and conditioning coach Stephane Dube and goaltending consultant Gilles Lefebvre, all of whom worked with him in Wilkes-Barre.
Also relieved of their duties in Pittsburgh were assistant coaches Joe Mullen and Randy Hillier, strength and conditioning coach John Welday and goaltending coach Shane Clifford.
Therrien was in his third season as head coach of the Penguins’ top farm club in Wilkes-Barre, having led the Baby Penguins to AHL Calder Cup Finals in 2003-04. Previously, he spent six seasons as a coach in the Montreal organization, including three as the Canadiens head coach from 2000-03 where he posted a 77-91-22 record.
“We have been very disappointed in our performance this season, and we felt it was time to make a change in direction,” Patrick said. “Michel has done a tremendous job in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, not only this year but in all three years there, and he has played a key role in developing some of our young players. And his experience in coaching the Montreal Canadiens will be an asset as he accepts this new challenge.”
Patrick said that the Penguins will conduct a search for another assistant coach to join Therrien and Yeo. In the meantime, Eddie Johnston, the Penguins’ assistant general manager, who has extensive NHL coaching and management experience, will join them in an interim role on the coaching staff.
A native of Montreal, Therrien played three seasons in the AHL (1983-85, 1986-87) for Nova Scotia, Sherbrooke and Baltimore, recording 89 points (16+73).
Therrien coached four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with Laval and Granby (1993-1997), posting a .720 winning percentage. Therrien won a Memorial Cup with Granby in 1995-96 and reached the QMJHL finals three times.
Therrien coached three-plus seasons in the American Hockey League with Fredericton and Quebec (1997-2000), compiling a 115-122-22 record. He won a division championship with Quebec in 1999-2000 before taking over the head coaching position for the Montreal Canadiens during the 2000-2001 season.
In seven seasons coaching in the AHL, Therrien compiled a 209-203-32 record. In three seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, he was 94-81-10.
Yeo, 32, spent seven seasons with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, the last six as an assistant coach. Yeo was named an assistant coach on January 24, 2000 after announcing his retirement as a player.
The North Bay, Ontario native played in 19 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton during the 1999-00 season before ending his playing career due to knee injuries.
Prior to joining the Penguins’ organization Yeo played five seasons with the Houston Aeros of the IHL. As the team captain during the 1998-99 season, Yeo recorded 18 points (6+12) in 57 games and helped lead the Aeros to the Turner Cup championship. Yeo recorded 127 points (55+72) and 511 penalty minutes in 317 career games with Houston.