Canadiens Fire Head Coach Claude Julien, Associate Kirk Muller; Give Dominique Ducharme Job On Interim Basis

Photo: USA Today

The Montreal Canadiens announced on Wednesday that head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller have both been fired. Assistant Dominique Ducharme was named the interim head coach and former Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows will be an assistant on his staff.

“I would like to sincerely thank Claude and Kirk for their contributions to our team over the past five years during which we worked together. I have great respect for these two men whom I hold in high regard,” GM Marc Bergevin said in a statement. “In Dominique Ducharme, we see a very promising coach who will bring new life and new energy to our group. We feel that our team can achieve high standards and the time had come for a change. ”

The firing occurs one day after a 5-4 shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Canadiens’ fifth loss in six games (1-3-2) after starting the season 8-2-2. The Canadiens are 1-1-2 against the Senators, who are five points behind the Canucks for second-to-last place in the North Division, this season. Their slump has dropped them from second to fourth in the North Division. They are currently eight points behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs for first.

The Canadiens’ average of 3.39 goals-per-game this season currently ranks eighth in the NHL this season but their 2.78 goals-against per game is tied with the Arizona Coyotes for the league average despite the fact that their 55.01% Corsi-for percentage is second and 56.62% expected goals-for percentage is first. Their 18.2% power play efficiency is 20th and their 76.4% penalty-killing rate is 22nd.

The Canadiens were on their way towards a third straight season of missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season before the NHL’s return-to-play format included them as the No. 12 seed in the Eastern Conference. They defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games during the best-of-five Stanley Cup Qualifier series before falling to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games in the first round.

In 1274 career games behind the bench with the Canadiens, Boston Bruins, and New Jersey Devils, Julien is 667-445-152 (.587 points percentage), including 201-175-50 (.53) in 436 games over two stints with the Canadiens. He led the Bruins to the Stanley Cup in 2011 and ranks 17th in all-time wins by a head coach. In 125 career Stanley Cup Playoff games behind the bench, Julien is 68-56 (.554).

Ducharme has spent the past three seasons on Julien’s staff as an assistant after nine seasons coaching the QMJHL.

The Canadiens begin a two-game series at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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