Wednesday, 26 July, 2017

Claude Julien named head coach of Bruins' longtime bitter rival

Claude Julien named head coach of Bruins' longtime bitter rival Claude Julien named head coach of Bruins' longtime bitter rival
Kristopher Love | 17 February, 2017, 01:41

It is not easy to hire a head coach in Montreal, where proficiency in French is expected, in addition to everything else.

The Canadiens opened the season with a 13-1-1 mark but have been listless over the last two months and have a 2-6-1 record in their last nine games. And while he's at it, Julien gets to take over a team that, for all its flaws, is in first place in the Atlantic Division and has the one thing that could mask all those faults and help it make a deep run in the playoffs - a world-class goaltender named Carey Price. If you watch the Bruins we also recovered pucks, but I want both. It was there during their time at Twin Farms in Barnard that Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin got in touch to discuss the head coaching position. Therrien's first stint with Montreal from 2000-03 ended when Julien took over from 2003-06. Bergevin is scheduled to hold a news conference Wednesday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, Que., while Julien will speak with reporters via conference call in the early afternoon.

The Canadiens next game is Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

"I reached the conclusion that we were at a turning point for our team and that's why I decided to make this change", Bergevin said. "The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a hard one because I have lots of respect for him".

"Having said, I'm with another team now and I need to have that team succeed".

Bergevin says he is convinced that new coach Claude Julien is the man to turn around the slumping franchise. "He's been here before as a rookie coach, he left and won a Stanley Cup in Boston".

Team owner and president Geoff Molson added in a tweet: "Michel Therrien, merci beaucoup pour tout, thank you for giving everything you had to our team". It's not a fun feeling. We definitely have been underperforming as of late.

It doesn't hurt that Julien has experience in Montreal. So the Bruins enjoy some financial relief with the Canadiens hiring Julien. The summer saw the big move of trading P.K. Subban for Shea Weber, and there wouldn't likely have been another trade of that magnitude during the season, due to a lack of improvement and tight salary cap situation.

Fired by the Bruins just games before the 1,000th game of his National Hockey League coaching career, which oddly enough would have come against the Canadiens, Julien now gets a chance to do that with the team he grew up cheering for as a kid in Ottawa.

Ironically, Julien was sacked under similar circumstances as those that bring him back to Montreal.

Not only does that contract take the Bruins off the hook for Julien's reported $3 million contract next season, but actually gives the 2009 Jack Adams victor a raise from his salary with the Bruins and moves him closer to the top of the league's highest-paid coaches behind Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock (over $6 million per season) and Blackhawks boss Joel Quenneville.

"Any time a coach doesn't finish a season or any time a coach is let go, there's disappointment", Julien said.

But after key personnel and management changes, the Bruins have not been the same team in recent years. Julien has already coached the Habs once before.

It is an older, more confident Julien who will guide the Canadiens this time around.

Bergevin said he doesn't believe that Therrien had lost the confidence of Price - speculation that began December 16 when the Canadiens goaltender appeared to stare down the bench at Therrien after being pulled during a 4-2 loss to San Jose. He worked in television until the Canadiens gave him another chance in 2012.