Unless you live under a rock, by now you have heard the news of Claude Julien being named the new Head Coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Immediately there are many reactions, questions and topics worth discussing and answering.
Once I was able to actually process the deal, things started to make more sense. Claude was hired exactly one week after being fired from the Bruins. I absolutely believe the Canadiens fired Therrian solely because Julien was available. If Boston does not fire Claude, Montreal does not fire Therrian. Basically, the Bruins fired two coaches in one week.
There have been numerous coaching changes this season. However, in the last month alone, we have seen four of the seven longest tenured coaches in the league get fired. Claude Julien was the longest tenured and most winningest coach in Bruins history prior to his departure.
Deja Vu? Yes. This is not the first time Claude Julien has replaced Michel Therrian as the Head Coach for the Montreal Canadiens. This actually happened in 2003 as well.
Before you rush to your calendar to see when the Bruins will first see Claude behind the bench for the Habs, stop, you’re safe. This past weekend’s 4-0 shoutout by the Bs was the last meeting between these two rivals for the regular season. However, a playoff matchup is not something totally out of the question. If playoffs started today, bearing a win in the first round by both teams, they would meet in the second round. If Canadiens continue to fall, Ottawa stays the course, and the Bruins stay in place, there is the chance of a first round matchup (uh oh).
But wait, the Canadiens are first in the division, why would they fire their coach? Well, since a 13-1-1 start, the Canadians are 18-18-7 and 1-5-1 in their last seven games. Their lead in the division is quickly closing as second place Ottawa is six points behind with four games in hand. Also, the Habs are on their bye week. Meaning, there is time for players and management to adjust to a coaching change and prepare for action in a few days. The Canadiens were clearly not playing to their potential as of late and a change was needed. It will be interesting to see if they come out of the bye week ready to play and maintain their lead in the Atlantic as we approach the last 20 or so games of the regular season.
One fact that I found rather ridiculous and pretty funny was that one of the requirements for the head coaching job in Montreal was the ability to speak French. Claude, who is Canadian, obviously fulfills that requirement. But, are you telling me that you would pass up on a great coach because you feel the need to have bilingual press conferences?
Lastly, Claude signed a five-year deal earlier today. This will bring him into the 2021-2022 season. With remaining time on his contract with the Bruins, Boston gave Montreal approval to talk with Claude. Many people may have reacted with “OMG how can the Bruins allow Claude to go to a divisional rival.” Well, my reaction is that you fired the guy, don’t further hurt his future career by not allowing him to sign with certain teams.
So what is Claude’s reaction to all of this? He stated in his press conference that he had planned on waiting out the rest of the season before making any decisions. He definitely was not expecting to get a call from any team, especially Montreal. However, once he received the call and talked with Marc Bergevin, the Canadiens GM and a friend, it was an opportunity he could not pass up.
Good luck to Claude Julien in Montreal (but not too much).