The Habs have made a change behind the bench as they announced on Tuesday afternoon that they’ve fired head coach Michel Therrien and have hired Claude Julien as their new bench boss. Terms of Julien’s deal were not disclosed.
Julien is no stranger to the Canadiens as he made his NHL coaching debut back in 2003. Coincidentally, he replaced Therrien back then as well. He spent parts of three seasons behind Montreal’s bench, posting a 72-62-25 record in that span before being let go in January of 2006.
Since then, he has spent time with New Jersey for one season and with the Bruins for a decade (he was let go by Boston just last week). He has a career coaching record of 538-332-127; he ranks 27th in NHL history in games coached with 997 and 21st in wins.
GM Marc Bergevin released the following statement:
“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,” Canadiens general manager, Marc Bergevin said in a prepared statement. “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.”
As for Therrien, he leaves with a strong 194-121-17 record in his second go-around with the team. He ranks 4th in franchise history in both games coached and wins. The timing of the move is notable as it’s believed that multiple teams had approached Boston about getting permission to speak to Julien so clearly Bergevin decided to act fast.
It’s not very often that the coach of a division-leading team is let go this late in the year. In fact, it hasn’t happened since 2008 when the Senators let John Paddock go.
The team will hold a press conference on Wednesday morning at 11 AM but Julien is not expected to meet the media at that time. Instead, he’ll speak on a conference call in the afternoon. The new bench boss will have a couple of days to get settled in before the team skates on Friday, the earliest they’re able to with them in the midst of their bye week.