Meet the new boss…
Canadiens fire head coach Therrien, Julien brought back as replacement
The Montreal Canadiens fired head coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday and brought back former Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien to help put life back into their slumping team.
Julien became available when he was fired in his 10th season with the Bruins last week and Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin was quick to snap him up. It is believed that a handful of other teams were also interested in the 56-yearold coach.
The Canadiens opened the season with a 13-1-1 mark but have been listless over the last two months and have a 2-6-1 record in their last nine games. There was fear of another collapse like last season, when the club went from first place to out of the playoffs after star goalie Carey Price was injured.
Speculation had been building that Therrien would be let go. He ended up being replaced by Julien for the second time in his career. Therrien’s first stint with Montreal from 2000-03 ended when Julien took over from 2003-06.
The move was made with the Canadiens on a five-day break. Bergevin is scheduled to hold a news conference this morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, Que., while Julien will speak with reporters via conference call in the early afternoon.
Julien is to run his first practice Friday afternoon and coach the next day in a matinee against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. The Orleans, Ont. native is to work his 1,000th NHL game Feb. 23 against the New York Islanders.
“I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together,” Bergevin said in a release. “The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction.
“Claude Julien is an experienced and well-respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league’s best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track.”
The Canadiens are coming off a pair of losses to teams that have gone on winning runs since changing coaches: St. Louis and Boston.
“As a player, especially as the captain, you feel guilty,” Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty told Sportsnet. “Ultimately if we had performed better, especially as of late, then you don’t force management to make a decision like this. We definitely have been underperforming as of late. But I feel it’s on the players.
“We’ve seen around the league this tends to be the result when teams don’t step up and perform. I have nothing but great things to say about Michel and that’s what makes this pretty tough for me.”
The question is whether Montreal would have made a move if Julien had not become available.
However, he fits the team’s needs in bringing experience, a history of playoff success and an ability to communicate with fans and media in French, which is all but compulsory for a Canadiens coach.
He inherits a team that considers itself ready for a Stanley Cup run now with Price in goal and with veteran Shea Weber, acquired in an off-season trade that sent P.K. Subban to Nashville, anchoring the defence.
His first tasks will be getting Price out of his own slump and finding a balance on the forward lines, particularly getting young talents Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher on track.
Then-Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien speaks at a news conference in this April 2016 file photo.