Just one day prior to the NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens have reportedly signed head coach Claude Julien to a long term contract, of which terms were not released. Julien coached the Canadiens to their best regular season in 10 years and guided them past the second seeded Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
“The Canadiens organization is extremely proud of the work accomplished by Claude Julien last season” General Manager Bob Gainey said in a statement. “The team posted its best record of the past 10 years, which is the result of the players commitment combined to a system very well established by the coaching staff. Claude has brought an excellent work ethic to the organization, and we are confident that his presence will allow our team to continue to improve for years to come.”
Julien lead the Hamilton Bulldogs to an astounding record of 33-6-3-3 during the 2002-2003 season, and when Montreal’s head coach Michel Therrien was fired in January of 2003, the Canadiens hired Julien to right the ship. A mediocre record of 12-16-3-5 in the final portion of 2003 wasn’t what the Canadiens were looking for, but newly hired GM Bob Gainey showed confidence in Julien and he and the Habs responded with just their second playoff appearence in 6 seasons.
The native of Orleans, Ontario did not shy away from controversy either. On December 2nd, 2003 Julien scratched the team’s leading scorer from the lineup, Mike Ribeiro, for extending his shifts. Ribeiro responded welll and went on to finish atop the Canadiens scoring list with a final tally of 65. The benching sent a message to the rest of the team that Julien wouldn’t take any garbage from any of his players, no matter their skill level. The Habs finished with a record of 41-30-7-4 for 93 points, good for 7th in the Eastern Conference. Claude, along with others, has now given the Habs and their fans a reason to be excited for the future of the historic franchise.