The Montreal Canadiens have turned to Claude Julien as head coach in an attempt to avert another collapse, the NHL team announced.
Michel Therrien, who had coached Montreal the last five seasons, was relieved of his duties on Tuesday in the bizarre midseason swap, which comes as the Canadiens have lost 10 of their last 13 games.
Julien had been on the market for a week after he was sacked by the Boston Bruins on February 7.
Ironically, the Canadiens lost to the Bruins and Julien's successor Bruce Cassidy in a listless 4-0 decision on Sunday, likely setting in motion Therrien's long-rumoured ouster.
"The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him," Canadiens general Marc Bergevin said in a release. "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."
Therrien had Montreal atop the Atlantic Division, but the season, buoyed by a hot start, was beginning to enter a freefall similar to the one that kept the club out of the playoffs a year ago.
Montreal's talented roster suddenly could not score, averaging just 2.07 goals per game in the 13-game slump, including three shutouts in their last five outings.
The main difference between last year's collapse on the makings of an rerun is the presence of goalie Carey Price, who was injured most of last season, and defenseman Shea Weber, who was in Nashville then.
Price's play especially has dipped off significantly since 2016 turned to 2017, having allowed three or more goals in 11 of his last 16 starts.
Therrien, hired for a second stint with the Canadiens in 2012, was said to have lost the locker room. And with the success shown by teams who recently fired their coaches - the St Louis Blues are 5-1 under Mike Yeo, who replaced Ken Hitchcock February 1; the Bruins are 3-0 with Cassidy — the time to make a move to salvage the season was now.
Therrien finished his encore run in Montreal with a 165-107-32 record, but failed to build on the franchise's Eastern Conference finals appearance in 2012-2013, his first season.
Julien, 56, coached the Bruins to a 419-246-94 record during his 10 seasons in Boston, including a Stanley Cup title in 2010-11.
But his tenure came undone as the Bruins started the season 26-23-6, an unacceptable ledger given the team's back-to-back seasons of missing the playoffs.
To begin his Montreal trial, Julien will inherit all of Therrien's assistants, who were retained by the club.
|Syndergaard exits Mets start with apparent arm pain|
|Tye out for rest of IPL season|
|Warner fireworks see Sunrisers to victory over KKR|
|Van Wolfswinkel fires Vitesse to first major trophy|
|Finishing above Spurs never Wenger´s target|
|Pochettino delighted to award fans with ´emotional´ derby win|
|Let´s see what Chelsea have got - Spurs plan to pile on the pressure|
|Ronaldo´s perfect work ethic at Real Madrid sets him apart - Simao|
|Two red cards as merger-threatened rivals meet in Top 14|
|Porte backs up home glory with Romandie win|
|Pouille powers to second career title|
|Life on the road is sweet for record-breaking Man City|
|Koeman marvels at Gueye for controlling Hazard|
|Tottenham 2 Arsenal 0: Alli, Kane deliver in White Hart Lane´s derby farewell|
|Bills fire GM Doug Whaley, entire scouting staff|
|Home games will show whether we deserve top four – Guardiola|
|Kane breaks Tottenham record in north London derby|
|Salford climb to third with Widnes victory|
|Montella: AC Milan on track despite draw at Crotone|
|Svitolina blitzes Mertens to claim Istanbul Cup title|
|Overheating problem wrecked Hamilton´s race ´from the get-go´|
|It´s easy to lose your head - Conte salutes Chelsea attitude|
|Bath secure Champions Cup berth|
|City penalty was wrongly awarded - Agnew|
|Decima number two for Nadal in Barcelona|
|Siegemund sinks Mladenovic in Stuttgart thriller|
|´Ugly´ Roma paid the price, admits Spalletti|
|Alonso´s ´dreams´ wrecked by McLaren reliability woes|
|This was like a cup final – Cahill understands magnitude of Everton win|
|Jones and Smalling unlikely to face Celta, Mourinho claims|
|It´s his day - Vettel congratulates Bottas despite Massa frustration|
|Everton 0 Chelsea 3: Pedro stunner sets the tone as Conte´s men pass final major test|
|Middlesbrough 2 Manchester City 2: Jesus salvages late point in top-four hunt|
|Bottas thanks Mercedes for ´strange opportunity´ after Sochi triumph|
|Crotone 1 AC Milan 1: Rossoneri stumble again in further blow to European hopes|
|Injury sidelines Juve´s Rugani|
|Rashford clearly deceived referee, says Swansea boss Clement|
|Mourinho has ´zero criticism´ of ´exhausted´ United but again questions defensive trio|
|Bottas holds off late Vettel surge to claim first F1 win|
|Daredevils set unwanted IPL record in thrashing by Kings XI|
|Manchester United set unbeaten record with unwanted 36-year highest draw tally|
|Manchester United 1 Swansea City 1: Sigurdsson deals damaging blow to Mourinho´s top-four ambitions|
|Roma 1 Lazio 3: Keita double wins Derby della Capitale|
|South Africa great Donald to work with Sri Lanka for Champions Trophy|
|Lallana return the best news Liverpool could get - Klopp|
|Foran returns for Kiwis in ANZAC Test|
|Inter have financial muscle to sign Messi, claims Mazzola|
|Incredible Fritelli meltdown opens door for Levy in China|
|Mata returns to Man Utd squad, McTominay in line for debut|
|Gimenez set to miss Champions League semi-final|
|Klitschko ´one punch´ from knocking Joshua out|
|Melbourne Victory 1 Brisbane Roar 0: Berisha breaks resistance to book Grand Final spot|
|Slater scores first try in two years as Storm smash Dragons|
|Tottenham ambitions bigger than beating Arsenal, says Kane|
|Xavi wins first trophy with Al Sadd|
|Rule change helps Poulter keep PGA Tour card|
|Sauber to switch to Honda power|
|Klitschko sees Joshua as ´vulnerable´ despite dramatic Wembley loss|
|I wasn´t obsessed with goal drought, says Barcelona star Suarez|
|I can knockout anyone - Joshua revels in stunning Klitschko triumph|
|Alba frustrated but commits future to Barcelona|
|Pique: I have the most fun at Espanyol and Real Madrid|
|Gomez makes MLB history with cycle|
|Stanley Cup playoffs three stars: Capitals facing 2-0 hole to champions Penguins|
|MLS Review: Kaka scores on return for Orlando, Sounders complete three-goal comeback|
|Gimenez doubtful for Madrid clash due to adductor injury|
|Wenger warns Tottenham they could lose stars due to wage structure|
|Devils win NHL Draft lottery, Flyers picking second|
|Klitschko wants rematch after Joshua loss|
|Joshua warns he will only get better as he eyes Fury after Wembley classic|