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Montreal Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien
The Montreal Canadiens got off to a quick 12-3 start this season, but had only won 7 of their last 25 games prior to yesterday. But it still came as somewhat of a surprise when their general manager Bob Gainey announced the removal of Claude Julien as coach and moved himself into that position. He also brought in former Canadiens captain Guy Carbonneau as an associate coach to replace Rick Green and he will also be the next head coach of the team. Julien was made aware of the change by Gainey in a phone call Saturday morning and both him and Rick Green remain under contract with the Canadiens.
Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau are beloved in Montreal and played together for the Canadiens and worked together in the Dallas Stars organization. Gainey did not feel it was necessary for Carbonneau to make his head coaching debut in the midst of a tumultuous season and wanted him to have a fresh start next year. "There really was no reason to drop him into a pot of boiling water when we can drop him in and warm it up gently," Gainey said. "Guy will grab on to where we are and where we're going and what is needed quickly."
Doug Jarvis was promoted from assistant to associate coach, while goalie coach Roland Melanson remained in his job. Gainey's decision to shake up the team comes as many observers have commented on the poor play of some of the team's best players. Though he did not make any roster changes over the first half of the season, Gainer hopes that the coaching change will light a fire under the team's best players. This is particularly the case with goalie Jose Theodore and defenseman Sheldon Souray who have been the subjects of many trade rumours. "There are players who went through tough times, maybe injuries or personal things," Gainey said. "It's normal for a player to go through periods where they're not at their best, but when it goes on for a month or more, it's not normal. "A team can't function unless its key players give their maximum."
The change behind the bench certainly had an impact in the short term, as the Canadiens responded to the new coaches by defeating the visiting San Jose Sharks in a 6-2 romp.