Canadiens fire coach Michel Therrien
January 17, 2003
MONTREAL (AP) -- The Montreal Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien on Friday after hockey's most storied franchise won just two of its last 12 games.
He was replaced by Claude Julien, coach of the Canadiens' AHL affiliate. Therrien succeeded Alain Vigneault as coach in November 2000.
The firing came after losses in Atlanta and Philadelphia this week in which the Canadiens scored just one goal and were outshot badly in both games.
``It was a very difficult decision to take,'' general manager Andre Savard said in French in a news conference at the Bell Centre. ``I had confidence that the situation would get better, that we would start winning games. But it didn't happen.''
Savard said made the decision to change coaches after Thursday night's 4-1 loss in Philadelphia and told Therrien on Friday morning before the Canadiens' practice.
``The loss in Atlanta really hurt but you have to look at the whole month,'' Savard said.
The Canadiens are fourth in the Northeast Division at 18-19-4-5 and in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Therrien is the sixth coach to lose his job in the NHL this season. San Jose, Atlanta, Calgary, Columbus and Colorado have all made coaching changes.
Last season, Therrien led the Canadiens to the playoffs for the first time in four years. They reached the second round before losing to Carolina in six games.
The Canadiens, owners of a record 24 Stanley Cup titles, had missed the postseason two straight seasons for the first time since 1992 and had the worst record in the 30-team league when Therrien was hired.
Julien was in his third season as coach of the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bullodgs, who became the Canadiens' shared affiliate with Edmonton this season, lead the AHL with 72 points and a record of 33-6-3-3.
``It's a great honor and a privilege for a guy like myself who grew up in Ottawa wearing a Montreal Canadiens jersey to have an opportunity like this,'' Julien said.
``When Andre called me and offered me the job there was no doubt I was going to do it.''
Julien's first game will be Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Canadiens will send a fifth-round draft pick in 2003 to Edmonton as compensation. If Montreal makes the playoffs, the pick would become a fourth-round selection.