The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller, the team announced Wednesday.
Dominique Ducharme has been named interim head coach, while Alex Burrows joins the coaching staff.
The firing comes as little surprise to Habs watchers, with the team in the midst of a significant slump. The decision was not made overnight, according to sources.
“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. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard,” said general manager Marc Bergevin in a press release.
Tuesday, Montreal dropped their second game in a row to the Ottawa Senators – a feat that spoke volumes about the 9-5-4 Canadiens this season.
With Bergevin doing his part by dishing out some serious green for free agents like Joel Edmundson, Tyler Toffoli, and Josh Anderson, the bar was set high for this truncated season.
The Canadiens hired Julien in February of 2017, eight days following his ouster from the Boston Bruins. It was his second stint with Montreal, as he ranks fifth in franchise history with 201 wins behind the bench.
Julien has coached a 667-445-152 record with 10 ties across 18 NHL seasons with the Habs, Bruins, and New Jersey Devils. He won the Jack Adams Award in 2008-2009 and secured a Stanley Cup victory with Boston in 2011, ranking 13th overall among coaches in wins.
“In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group,” said Bergevin. “We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change.”
Ducharme has spent two years with Montreal and has a lot on his shoulders, but the franchise is banking on his energy to transform the culture. The addition of Burrows, who’ll replace Muller, should theoretically accomplish the same.
The Canadiens play the 11-6-1 Winnipeg Jets Thursday and will have every chance to test the dynamic of Ducharme and Burrows.
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