Sports Montreal Canadiens fire Claude Julien and Kirk Muller
What the Puck: Short leash in short season for Canadiens coach Julien?
Some of us thought we had a goaltending controversy. But it turns out what we really have is a Canadiens controversy. Why is a team that appeared to be so good two weeks ago now playing like a sad sack? There are also the beginnings of rumblings that perhaps what we really have is a coach controversy, as in is Claude Julien the best choice to bring this super-talented group to the promised land? Nobody in their right mind is yelling “fire the coach,” but many of us believe the head coach is indeed on a short leash and that his boss — the general manager with the rock-star hair — isn’t going to be patient with Julien this season.
The Canadiens announced Wednesday morning that head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller have both been fired.
has been named interim head coach, while Alex Burrows, who was an assistant coach with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has been added to the Canadiens’ coaching staff.
Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price in goal, Paul Byron back in the lineup
Carey Price will be in goal for the Canadiens Saturday night at the Bell Centre against the Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., CBC, SN, CITY, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) and forward Paul Byron will return to the lineup. The Canadiens placed Byron on waivers last Sunday and after clearing waivers he was placed on the team’s taxi squad on Monday. Byron has struggled this season with 0-3-3 totals in 14 games. The 31-year-old is in the second season of a four-year, US$13.6-million contract with a $3.4 million salary-cap hit.
After getting off to a 7-1-2 start this season while scoring 44 goals, the Canadiens were looking great and Montreal fans were excited. Bergevin’s off-season player additions had given the team a big boost and for the first time in a long time it didn’t seem like a question of if the Canadiens would make the playoffs, but how far they might go once they get there.
After going 2-4-2 in their last eight games and with the playoffs no longer looking like a sure thing in this condensed 56-game season, Bergevin decided to make the coaching move.
“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,” Bergevin said in a statement released by the team. “I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard. 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. ”
Stu Cowan: Players forced Canadiens GM's hand in firing of Julien
This is the third column I have written in the last two weeks about the Canadiens firing Claude Julien, but the first to be published. When the Canadiens cancelled a scheduled practice two Mondays ago and announced that GM Marc Bergevin would speak with the media at noon, I was pretty sure Julien was gone, so I had the column written that morning and ready to hit publish when the news broke. I was wrong. It seemed like the perfect time to make a coaching change because the struggling Canadiens had a six-day break in the schedule and it would have given the new coach time to work on changes he might want to make to the system, or the lines, during what would be like a mini-training
The Canadiens are coming off aand are in fourth place in the all-Canadian North Division with a 9-5-4 record, only three points ahead of the fifth-place Calgary Flames (9-9-1). The top four teams make the playoffs.
The Canadiens’ next game is Thursday night in Winnipeg against the Jets (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).
Ducharme has no head-coaching experience in the NHL, but joined the Canadiens as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season.
Before joining the Canadiens, the 47-year-old Ducharme had been head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads and Drummondville Voltigeurs and was also head coach of Team Canada at the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Hockey Championships, winning silver and gold medals.
Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson has made it clear in the past thatand Ducharme fits that bill.
Canadiens Game Day: Carey Price in goal for Dominique Ducharme's debut
Carey Price will be in goal Thursday night against the Jets in Winnipeg when Dominique Ducharme makes his debut as head coach of the Canadiens (8 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM). Price has a 5-3-3 record with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage. He is 1-3-1 in his last five starts. Backup goalie Jake Allen has a 4-2-1 record with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage. The Canadiens were shut out in both of Allen’s regulation-time losses. Ducharme was named interim head coach on Wednesday after GM Marc Bergevin fired Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller.
Julien, 60, has one more season after this remaining on his five-year, US$25-million contract.
After Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers last August in Toronto, Julien was rushed to hospital by ambulance while suffering from chest pains and required surgery to stent a coronary artery. He missed the rest of the series, which the Canadiens lost in six games, with Muller taking over as interim head coach.
“It’s always meant a lot for me to be doing this,” a healthy-looking Julien said about his job at the start of this season. “I don’t think there’s ever been a time that I’ve ever taken this job for granted. Especially feeling extremely fortunate that I’ve been doing it for this long.
“Having gone through what I went through this summer in the bubble, it could have gone either way,” he added. “It could have been the last time I was behind the bench, yet here I am today through a pandemic and everything else feeling fortunate to be able to continue to do the job that I love doing. And that’s the reason I’m still doing it is because I love it. I’ve always enjoyed coaching and being a part of a group, so that hasn’t changed.”
What the Puck: Aura of negative energy envelops fragile Canadiens
Is Carey Price trying to get Dominique Ducharme fired? That, by the way, is a joke. The US$10.5-million goalie certainly played a role in getting Claude Julien fired . As former Habs netminder J osé Théodore said in his Journal de Montréal column this week, when National Hockey League coaches get tossed overboard, it’s often because the starting goalie is playing like a minor-leaguer. After Thursday’s pathetic performance by Price in a 6-3 loss to the high-flying Winnipeg Jets, it’s clear Saint Carey is in one of his all-too-frequent funks, pretty well business as usual for the most overrated player in the NHL.
This was Julien’s second stint as head coach of the Canadiens.
Feb. 14 marked the fourth anniversary of Julien being hired by Bergevin as head coach, taking over from Michel Therrien when the Canadiens had a 31-19-8 record and were in first place in the Atlantic Division. Julien had been fired as head coach of the Boston Bruins a week earlier after leading them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
The Canadiens got off to a 13-1-1 start that season under Therrien, but were 1-5-1 in their last seven games and had been shut out three times in the last five games when Bergevin decided to make the coaching change.
This is a similar scenario now with the Canadiens’ offence stalling after getting off to a fast start.
Julien led the Canadiens to the playoffs in his first season, but they were upset by the New York Rangers in the first round. The Canadiens have not won a playoff series since, although they did win a qualifying-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins last season before losing to the Flyers in the first round.
Since taking over from Therrien, Julien had a 129-113-35 regular-season record.
The Canadiens haven’t won a playoff series since 2015, when they beat the Ottawa Senators in the first round before losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round.
Stu Cowan: Canadiens need to revive dormant offence .
Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is hoping a new goalie coach will help Carey Price get back on track. But firing Stéphane Waite and replacing him with Sean Burke won’t help the Canadiens’ struggling offence. The Canadiens scored 44 goals in their first 10 games this season while getting off to a 7-1-2 start. After losing 4-3 in OT to the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens are 3-5-4 in their last 12 games while scoring only 27 goals over that span. They have scored less than three goals in seven of their last 12 games. The Canadiens have scored 10 goals in their first four games with Dominique Ducharme as head coach and have a 1-1-2 record.