Once you digest everything involved in the monumental decision Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin finalized on Tuesday, there are two things that stand out above all else. Generally speaking, first place coaches aren’t fired in-season. “All the other adjustments system-wise, I’m going make them, but you can’t come in the middle of the season and change everything”. The Canadiens have struggled as of late, having lost two in a row and holding a 3-6-1 record in their past 10 games.
North of the border, the Canadiens were the hottest team in hockey at the start of the 2015-16 season, then a collapse for the ages struck when star goalie Carey Price got hurt and they missed the playoffs by a long ways. The hefty contract that Claude Julien carried with him has been shipped over to Montreal for the next couple of years. That concern and Montreal’s recent slump basically forced the Habs’ management to make some kind of move, and they opted for a common one: firing the head coach.
Dumped by the Bruins exactly one week ago, Claude Julien has found a new love to spend Valentine’s Day with in the form of the Canadiens. “So to me I don’t go to work, I just do something I love”. Julien went on to lead the New Jersey Devils during the 2006-07 season before he landed with the Bruins where he’d been ever since and helped lead them to the Stanley Cup in 2011 – the team’s first in 39 years.
“His track record speaks for itself”, Bergevin said. “It’s a home run”.
“There was something missing”, he said.
“There was something missing and the team performance showed that there was something not right and the change had to be made.”
The pre-season Vezina favorite is now just 17th in the league in save percentage at.917 and 14th in the league in goals-against average at 2.46. With competition for Julien’s services certain to heat up, Bergevin had to act fast. We had already started to score quite a bit.
We might not have to wait the full 14 days between now and the NHL’s trade deadline to see what Bergevin does next. Therrien is the fourth coach fired this season, following Florida’s Gerard Gallant (November), the New York Islanders’ Jack Capuano (January) and the Dallas’ Ken Hitchcock (early this month).
“Michel and I worked very closely together over the past five years”, he said. This marks the second time in franchise history the Habs have removed Therrien and brought in Julien. As the 1977-78 season closed, Shero tendered his resignation and signed on to coach the Rangers, whom he had played 145 games with during his days as a defenseman, and NY shipped cash and a first-rounder to Philadelphia to avoid tampering charges.