USATSI_9868515_154158418_lowresThe Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Michel Therrien and have hired Claude Julien as his replacement.

“I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said. “The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him.”

In the minds of many Montreal fans, Therrien’s firing has been a long time coming.

Despite the Habs’ position as first in the Atlantic Division with a 31-19-8 record, many saw Therrien as a big problem behind the bench. The coach, in the fifth season of his second tenure with the club, went 1-5-1 over the past seven games and drove down to 18-18-7 after a 13-1-1 start to the year.

The dip in fortunes was obviously enough to make even Bergevin nervous and he made the second huge move in less than eight months.

The first was the trading away of P.K. Subban, another piece of the Montreal puzzle often blamed and/or praised for the entire team’s fortunes. Subban’s “personality” was often targeted as being a problem inside the room, so he had to go.

And now the firing of Therrien addresses another obstacle, real or imagined, between the Canadiens and winning it all.

“I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction,” Bergevin said. “Claude Julien is an experienced and well-respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach and one of the league’s best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track.”

Julien steps into the picture in Montreal for the second time, too. He coached the team from 2003 to 2006 and was brought aboard then as Therrien’s replacement. The wheels keep on spinning.

It’s expected that Bergevin will be rather active in the days leading up to the trade deadline. We’ve already taken a look at some of the possible moves, with a second line centre among the potential targets. How Bergevin will address the team’s needs is still up in the air, but he’ll have a lot to prove and nothing less than the Cup will satisfy the team’s fanbase.

In other words, there are no excuses left.

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