Doesn’t it just feel like yesterday that the Canadiens were pounding the Canucks into submission?
Life sure does move fast.
This morning, the Montreal Canadiens announced that they are relieving head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller of their coaching duties.
Assistant coach Dominique Ducharme will step in as head coach, and former Vancouver Canuck Alex Burrows will join the staff as well.
Burrows has spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with Montreal’s farm team, the Laval Rocket.
Back in 2018, Burrows didn’t spend much time contemplating about what his retirement would look like. He joined the Rocket staff in the blink of an eye after announcing he was hanging up the skates.
Although the Rocket haven’t made the playoffs since Burrows joined the staff (they were a fringe team before the pandemic shutdown last March), the 39-year-old was behind the bench when players like Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Victor Mete, Brett Kulak and Jake Evans were in the minors.
Burrows joins a Habs team that still profiles as a group that can make some noise in the playoffs. They have depth at all positions, and they’re one of the only teams in Canada that can defend.
Claude Julien's Habs teams weren't perfect at 5v5, and routinely underperformed expectations. But it's pretty clear that special teams were the problem in Montréal during his tenure. #GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/bIqisrn4al— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) February 24, 2021
Consider that the Habs lead the league in expected goals against at even-strength (1.81/60 minutes). The next closest Canadian team is the Calgary Flames at 13th.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Habs were on a roll either. On February 2nd, after beating the Vancouver Canucks for the fourth time in five contests, Montreal sat atop the North Division with a 7-1-2 record.
Fast forward just 22 days later, and the Canadiens have dropped to fourth in the North Division after losing six of their last eight games, including two straight to the Ottawa Senators (in overtime and a shootout respectively).
Apparently, Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin decided that it was time to shake up the coaching staff. It’s one of the more questionable firings as of late, but it certainly has benefitted one former beloved Canuck.
Marc Bergevin informed Claude Julien this morning of the coaching change.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 24, 2021
My sense is the Habs GM still saw effort on the ice but also saw a confused team. Wanted to intervene before the downward spiral got out of control. Again, speaks to the expectations set for this season.
When the Habs hired Dom Ducharme and Joel Bouchard, I wrote the coach and GM were hiring folks who could plausibly be their successors. First part of the succession plan is activated, and if the team doesn't right itself I'd expect the second at some point relatively soon.— Sean Gordon (@MrSeanGordon) February 24, 2021
Bouchard: “Where are you going, Alex?”— John (@TheEagleDares) February 24, 2021
Burrows: “Marc called. Said he wants me up with Montreal. Julien and Muller were let go”
Bouchard: “I’ll get my coat! This is our time!”
Burrows: “Actually, he only asked for me”
Statement from Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin on coaching change:— Dan Rosen (@drosennhl) February 24, 2021
"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. "
Expectations were high this year. Julien pays the price. He had one more year left on his contract next season at $5 million. https://t.co/FU7I6pl16x— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 24, 2021