Unemployment did not last long for Claude Julien. Just one week after being fired by the Boston Bruins, Julien was named the head coach of the team’s archrival, the Montreal Canadiens.
The announcement came Tuesday afternoon after the Canadiens fired head coach Michel Therrien. The Habs were off to a hot start this season before going ice cold, compiling the worst record in the league in January and putting up 1-5-1 numbers in February. Their most recent game was a 4-0 shutout loss to the Bruins.
Therrien was in the fifth year of his second term coaching Montreal. Interestingly, it was Julien who also succeeded Therrien as head coach of the Canadiens after Therrien got the boot midway through the 2002-2003 season. In his second stint with the team, Therrien led Montreal to a 194-121-37 record with three playoff appearances and a trip to the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.
Julien coached Montreal from 2003-2006 before taking a job as the Bruins bench boss which he held for nearly ten seasons. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011, ending a 39-year Cup drought for the Bruins. The Bruins have narrowly missed the playoffs the past two years, losing the majority of games to close out each season. As of last week, Julien was the longest tenured coach in the NHL. That title now belongs to Chicago’s Joel Quenneville.
Last season, Julien was honored as the winningest coach in Boston Bruins history when he notched win number 388 on March 7, 2016. Julien has coached 997 career NHL games and is ranked 27th all-time among NHL head coaches in this category. He will hit the 1000-game mark on Feb. 23 when the Canadiens host the New York Islanders.
Former Providence Bruins head coach and former Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy has taken over the coaching duties since Julien was fired last week. The Bruins have gone 3-0 since the coaching change.
The Canadiens are currently hanging onto first place in the Atlantic Division while the Bruins sit in third. Both teams have played 58 games.
Following Julien, Therrien marks the fifth NHL coach to be fired this season. He joins Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues, Jack Capuano of the New York Islanders, and Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers.
With last game between the longtime foes featuring two fights, a move like this is sure to pour some gasoline onto a recently relit fire.
The two teams are not scheduled to play each other for the rest of the regular season, but a playoff series is possible. If that should happen, be sure to set your DVRs.