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Claude Julien Hired as Canadiens Head Coach, Michel Therrien Fired

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2017

NEWARK, NJ - JANUARY 08: Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins works the bench against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on January 8, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. The Bruins defeated the Devils 4-1.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens announced on Tuesday that they fired head coach Michel Therrien and replaced him with former Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien.

General manager Marc Bergevin spoke about the decision to make the change, per a press release from the team's official site:

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. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. 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.

Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reported that the Canadiens asked the Bruins for the right to interview Julien on Sunday. Therrien was not told about the decision until Tuesday afternoon, per Darren Dreger of TSN.

Still, the move wasn't expected by many. The Canadiens came into Tuesday 31-19-8 and atop the Atlantic Division, and as Bob McKenzie of TSN noted, the organization didn't give any indication a change was imminent:

Bob McKenzie @TSNBobMcKenzie

Therrien/Julien is quite the surprise. All the messaging emanating out of MTL for last days/weeks has been no chance of a coaching change.

The Canadiens did miss the postseason last year under Therrien, however, the first time since he took over as head coach in 2012.

As Ian Mendes of TSN noted, there was a certain familiarity to Julien replacing Therrien:

Ian Mendes @ian_mendes

Claude Julien took over for Therrien as Habs coach midway through 2002-03 season and again in 2016-17. That has to be an NHL first, right?

Julien, 56, spent the past 10 seasons as the head coach of the Bruins, going 419-246-94 in that time. He previously had stints as the head coach of the Canadiens (2003-06) and the New Jersey Devils (2006-07). He led Boston to a Stanley Cup title in 2011 and another appearance in 2013.

But the Bruins missed the postseason the past two seasons and found themselves on the fringes of the playoff picture this season, prompting the team to fire him on Feb. 8.

The Canadiens, meanwhile, clearly felt they had tapered off after a 13-1-1 start to the season, and Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star believes the addition of Julien should help right the ship for the Habs:

Bruce Arthur @bruce_arthur

I am shocked the Bruins let the Habs talk to Claude Julien, because I think the Habs got better today

Montreal's front office clearly feels that will be the case, and Boston fans will certainly be irked if Julien helps lead its rivals to a long postseason run the same season he was fired from the team. If nothing else, two of the teams battling for a postseason berth and the Atlantic Division crown have undergone major changes over the course of the past week.