In a move that many Habs fans have been expecting for some time, the Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien. Also out is assistant coach Rick Green. GM Bob Gainey will serve as the team’s interim head coach and has brought in former captain Guy Carbonneau to replace Green.
Julien had taken the job as head on January 17, 2003, when the team fired Michel Therien, just half a season after he led the team to the playoffs. After posting a 72-62-10-5 record as head coach, Julien has experience a similar fate. Just last season (2003-04), Julien had coached the team into the 2nd round of the playoffs, just like Therien had done. Now, they both share the title of former Canadiens head coach.
For the time being, GM Bob Gainey will serve as the team’s head coach. Gainey is an experienced coach, having coached Minnesota/Dallas from 1990-1996. Some might wonder how well Gainey will be able to do behind the bench, as it has been nine years since he has had that role.
Brought in to aid Gainey behind the bench is Guy Carbonneau. Carbonneau served as the Canadiens captain from 1989-1994 and was assistant coach of the team from 2000-2002. He left the team due to a dispute with the Montreal school system, and has served as assistant GM of the Dallas Star for the last three year. At the end of the season, it is expected that Carbonneau will be named the team’s head coach.
With this move, there is speculation that Gainey will hold off on any trades for the time being, so that he can evaluate his team from a new perspective. Recent rumors had been swirling about possible trades with Chicago and Colorado. It remains to be seen how the coaching change will affect those negotiations, if at all.