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Former coach Therrien watches from home

Michel Therrien has time on his hands these days, which is why he was able to celebrate his mother Rachel's 75th birthday Friday night in Montreal.

"It's the first time in six years that I've been able to spend a lot of time with her," Therrien said by phone yesterday.

Not that it was by choice. Therrien was fired as Penguins coach Feb. 15, with two-plus years left on his contract.

Therrien declined to discuss his former team's chances in the Stanley Cup Final and all other Penguins-related matters, such as whether he believes his firing was just; whether he believes he would be in this position if he'd stayed on; and whether he believes his relationship with star winger Marian Hossa had anything to do with Hossa's defection to Detroit.

Since he was fired, Therrien has spent most of his time in Pittsburgh, where he still owns a house. He also has made visits to his hometown of Montreal, vacationed in Cuba and done some playoff commentary for RDS, a French-speaking sports network in Canada. He planned to return to Pittsburgh today.

Will he be watching the final?

"It depends on how far it's going to go," Therrien said. "I'm taking my kids (teenagers Elizabeth and Charles) on vacation on June 10th."

That would leave only Game 7, if necessary, and you'd have to believe Therrien would find a way to watch that one, given that the team he was coaching a little more than three months ago would be playing for the Cup.

The Penguins owe Therrien about $2 million over the next two years. He was 135-105-32 in parts of four seasons, his tenure of 272 games just two behind Red Kelly (1969-73) and four behind Ed Johnston (1993-97) among the longest coaching tenures in franchise history.

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