Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Canadiens Fire Therrien, Hire Julien

Ever since Claude Julien was fired from his perch as coach of the Boston Bruins just before the New England Patriots Super Bowl parade last Monday, nothing but good things have been said about the 56-year-old who guided the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title, a Stanley Cup final and the President's trophy in the last six of his nine-plus year tenure in Boston.

Now Julien will get the chance to prove all of his enthusiasts right.

Julien was hired to take over has head coach of the Montreal Canadiens for the second time Tuesday in a surprise announcement that coincides with the jettisoning of head coach Michel Therrien, who had been at the helm since 2012. Therrien had two turns coaching the Canadiens, and guided them to a Conference Final in 2014.

Julien will enter his second tour of duty as head coach of the Montreal. He previously served from January 2003 to January 2006 with a record of 72-62-10-15 in 259 regular season games at the helm of the team.

The Canadiens are clearly in win now mode after trading for Shea Weber this off-season and as their franchise goaltender Carey Price nears the final year of his six-year $39 million deal. Add to that the fact that Price is approaching 30 and Weber will be 32 this summer, and it's easy to see what Montreal is up against.

Julien inherits a team that has been both good and bad in stretches this season. Montreal holds a six-point lead atop the Atlantic Division at 31-19-8. But the Habs have lost the plot recently under Therrien, going 4-8-2 in their last 14. Though the club wasn't rumored to be shopping for a new coach, GM Marc Bergevin has moved decisevely to claim Julien in the hopes that he can steer his team to the promised land.

There will be no press conference to discuss the move today. We'll be looking forward to dissecting the post-hiring and firing chatter tomorrow.

The Canadiens did release the following statement from Bergevin when the news broke:

"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. 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."