The Habs have decided to make a change behind the bench, relieving Claude Julien and Kirk Muller of their coaching duties. Marc Bergevin announced the breaking news this morning and made this comment following the firing of his former head coach and assistant.
“I would like to sincerely thank Claude and Kirk for their contributions to our team over the past five years during which we worked together. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard,” general manager Marc Bergevin said in a team release. “In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group. We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change.”
Dominique Ducharme, as Bergevin mentioned, is appointed as the interim head coach and Alexandre Burrows was promoted to take Kirk Muller’s position as an assistant coach behind the bench.
Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports confirmed via Twitter that the Canadiens will finish the season with those coaches before looking for a replacement which will be done in the offseason.
The Canadiens started the season hot only losing one regulation game in their first 10 games and that’s when everything went downhill as they have lost their last three straight to plummet to fourth in the North Division.
This was Julien’s second go-round with the Montreal Canadiens and also coached the team from 2002-03 to 2005-06 and finished with a record behind the Montreal bench of 201-175-10-50.
He has been a coach for 18 seasons in the NHL with Montreal, Boston, and New Jersey and ranks 13th in coaching victories. Julien also has a Stanley Cup under his belt from back in 2011 with the Boston Bruins who beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games while winning the Jack Adams award back in 2009 as the coach of the year.
It was also Muller’s second go-round with the Habs as he had been with the team from 2006-07 through 2010-11 before Carolina hired him as their head coach. Muller then spent time with St. Louis as an assistant before the Canadiens brought him back in 2016 as an associate coach. He was in his fifth role in that capacity before today’s news.
Ducharme, who is 47 years old, spent the last two seasons plus the start of this year behind the bench as an assistant and has zero experience as a head coach in the NHL. However, he spent 10 seasons in the QJMHL winning the Memorial Cup with the Halifax Mooseheads in 2012-13; he also coached Team Canada at the World Juniors in 2017 and 2018 where he led his team to Silver and Gold medals respectively. With the move, the Habs are going from the sixth-oldest head coach in the NHL to the sixth-youngest.
Burrows, 39, is also relatively inexperienced on the coaching front. He was in his third season with Laval as an assistant having been hired to be a part of Joel Bouchard’s staff. While he has plenty of experience as a player where he spent parts of 13 seasons in the NHL, this will be his first time in an NHL coaching capacity.
The Canadiens are currently en route to Winnipeg and will speak to the media later today to answer questions about the coaching change and are back in game action tomorrow night against the Jets.