In a bold, dramatic move that will undoubtedly shake up his floundering club, Montreal GM Marc Bergevin has fired Michel Therrien and replaced him with Claude Julien — exactly one week to the day that Julien was fired by the Bruins.
“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.”
Per ESPN, Montreal asked for permission to speak with Julien on Sunday.
Just days later, the 56-year-old is now back for his second stint in Montreal, having coached the club from 2003-06. This also marks the second time he’s replaced Therrien as the Canadiens’ bench boss.
(Of note, there are only two roster holdovers from the last Habs team Julien coached: Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec.)
Since leaving Montreal, Julien achieved tremendous success in Boston, capturing the ’09 Jack Adams and ’11 Stanley Cup. He also left as the organization’s all-time leader in coaching wins.
As for Therrien, his dismissal comes with the club having plateaued since its 13-1-1 start to the year. The Habs are just 18-18-7 since but, following Sunday’s ugly 4-0 shutout loss in Boston, still remained atop the Atlantic Division. Per Sportsnet, Therrien is the first head coach to be fired with his team leading the division since Ottawa fired John Paddock in 2008.
It’s probably worth noting the last time Therrien was fired, he was the head coach in Pittsburgh. Pens GM Ray Shero turfed him on Feb. 15, 2009 — almost eight years to the day — and replaced Therrien with Dan Bylsma.
Bylsma, of course, led the club to the Stanley Cup months later.
More to follow…