Claude Julien’s second stint in Montreal has come to an abrupt and unceremonial end.
The Canadiens on Wednesday fired the head coach and associate coach Kirk Mueller, the team announced. Dominique Ducharme was promoted to head coach, and Alex Burrows was added to the coaching staff.
Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin thanked the duo in a statement, saying he has “great respect” for the two coaches.
The Canadiens actually got off to a blistering 8-2-2 start this season in the NHL’s North (Canadian) division. They’ve started to struggle a bit recently, losing their last three straight, including back-to-back losses to the lowly Ottawa Senators in overtime and a shootout.
That being said, the Habs were 9-5-4 through 18 games and in the division’s top four teams, which means they currently hold a playoff spot.
“In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group,” Bergevin said in a statement. “We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change.”
It’s hard to believe it’s been more than four years since Montreal rehired Julien. He wasn’t on the street long after the Boston Bruins dismissed him in 2017, signing a five-year contract just a week after the B’s fired him. He had one year remaining on that contract, which reportedly paid him $5 million per season.
The Canadiens went 129-113-35 in Julien’s second go-round behind Montreal’s bench. They made the playoffs twice but never advanced beyond the first round.