Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Sports

Canadiens fire Therrien, hire Julien

The struggling Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien on Tuesday and hired Claude Julien.

General manager Marc Bergevin made the announcement two days into a bye week. Julien was fired as coach of the Bruins last week.

At 1-5-1, the Canadiens are the NHL's worst team since the start of February. They next play Saturday against the Jets.

Therrien, 53, was in his fifth season of his second tour as Canadiens coach and had three playoff appearances with a trip to the 2014 Eastern Conference final, eliminating the Lightning in the first round that season. They missed the playoffs last season.

Owner Geoff Molson tweeted a thank-you to Therrien, who went 194-121-37 as coach this time around.

He was also fired and replaced by Julien 46 games into the 2002-03 season. This time, it took 58 games.

In the past 10 years, the NHL leads North American sports in midseason coach firings, with 39 (the Lightning fired Barry Melrose in 2008 and Guy Boucher in 2013). The NBA had 30 in-season firings in that time, MLB had 25 and the NFL had 19.

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

That will come from Julien, who returns to Montreal, where he coached from 2003-2006. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011 and was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL until last week.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Evgeni Malkin scored and picked up an assist in his return from a lower-body injury, Sidney Crosby got his 999th career point with an assist and the host Penguins rolled by the Canucks 4-0. Phil Kessel, Jake Guentzel and Matt Cullen also scored and Matt Murray stopped 29 shots for his third shutout of the season and fourth of his career. … Defenseman Andy Greene scored the go-ahead goal on a power play and Kyle Palmieri converted on an odd-man rush with Taylor Hall to lead the host Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche. Jeremy Smith stopped 37 shots in his NHL debut for Colorado after seven seasons in the minor leagues. … Robin Lehner made 39 saves and Matt Moulson and Justin Bailey scored in the third period to rally the visiting Sabres past the Senators 3-2. Lehner is 4-0-2 against the club that drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft and traded him in 2015.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Blues forward Paul Stastny (lower-body injury) went on injured reserve.

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