GM says fir­ing of Ther­rien was dif­fi­cult but nec­es­sary

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

Fir­ing Michel Ther­rien as head coach of the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens was nec­es­sary be­cause there was “some­thing miss­ing” in the team’s re­cent per­for­mances, gen­eral man­ager Marc Bergevin said Wed­nes­day.

“We were just not play­ing our game, we were not the same team as we were ear­lier on,” Bergevin told a news con­fer­ence a day af­ter dis­miss­ing Ther­rien and re­plac­ing him with Claude Julien. “There was some­thing miss­ing. The team per­for­mance showed there was some­thing not right, and the change had to be made.”

The Cana­di­ens opened the sea­son with a 13-1-1 mark but have been list­less over the last two months. They have a 2-6-1 record in their last nine games.

There was fear of an­other col­lapse like last sea­son, when the club was in first place but went on to miss the play­offs af­ter star goalie Carey Price was in­jured.

Bergevin praised Ther­rien as a bat­tler who gave his all to the Cana­di­ens in his se­cond stint as coach of the team.

“Michel and I worked very closely to­gether over the past five years,” he said. “We fought some big bat­tles and ex­pe­ri­enced strong emo­tions to­gether ... our work­ing re­la­tion­ship has al­ways been marked by in­ten­sity, sin­cer­ity and emotion, and our meet­ing yes­ter­day was no dif­fer­ent.

“That be­ing said, I’ve reached the con­clu­sion we were at a turn­ing point and that is why I de­cided to make this change in the club’s best in­ter­ests.”

Bergevin called Julien one of the best coaches in the NHL and the ideal man to turn around the slump­ing fran­chise.

Julien, who coached the Cana­di­ens be­tween 2003 and 2006, be­came avail­able when he was fired in his 10th sea­son with the Bos­ton Bru­ins last week. It’s be­lieved some other teams were also in­ter­ested in the 56-year-old coach.

Bergevin con­firmed Julien, who will speak to re­porters on a con­fer­ence call later Wed­nes­day, has signed a multi-year deal but he did not spec­ify length.

This is the se­cond time Julien has re­placed Ther­rien as coach in Mon­treal. Ther­rien’s first stint with Mon­treal from 2000-03 ended when Julien took over from 2003-06.

Julien is to run his first prac­tice Fri­day af­ter­noon and coach the next day in a mati­nee against the vis­it­ing Win­nipeg Jets. The na­tive of Or­leans, Ont., is to work his 1,000th NHL game Feb. 23 against the New York Is­lan­ders.

GENE J. PUSKAR, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Michel Ther­rien was fired Tues­day by the Mon­treal Cana­di­ens.

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