Bob Gainey surprised many today by firing Claude Julien as the Montreal Canadiens Head Coach. Bob Gainey will step in as interim Head Coach to finish this season but Gainey welcomed back Guy Carbonneau as “Associate coach” with a contract in place for him to become Head Coach next season. Gainey and Carbonneau are ex-teammates of course and also worked together in the past in Dallas. Carbonneau won 2 Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and is part of the rich history of the Habs.
Doug Jarvis will remain with the team and also become “Associate Coach” but Rick Green was also let go. Roland Melanson still remains as Goaltending Coach.
This is huge news for the Habs and a pretty big surprise. No one really anticipated this move including the players and Claude Julien himself. All the focus was on trade talk and although some thought maybe Julien would go, it was a longshot. You can’t help feel a little bad when a Coach is fired. Can you put it all on the shoulders of Claude Julien? Julien took the heat for his players. Did his players let him down? I think so. Julien was a likeable guy but in the world of pro sports that doesn’t mean anything. Winning games does. Julien was notified by phone at 7:15 AM and it must have been a rough wakeup. Julien’s efforts to turn the team around were too little and too late.
What kind of changes can we expect? Well Gainey already announced Theodore will be back between the pipes tonight. In essence giving him a fresh start and hopefully in his mind he can start over and become the goalie he can be. Gainey particularly noted Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov need to be better. He feels they can both be Top D-men in the league. I’d also expect to see lots more ice time for rookie talent like Perezhogin, Kostitsyn and Plekanec. They’ll be a new feeling in the air in the Canadiens dressing room and certain individuals won’t be playing much if they don’t wake up. What will this mean to Mike Ribeiro? Richard Zednik? Alex Kovalev? Sheldon Souray? Jose Theodore? It’s about to get a little more serious in the Canadiens dressing room.
What does this mean for trade talk? Is their a blockbuster deal still in the works? I don’t think so. I think Theo is here to stay like it or not and if they do make a trade it’ll be close to the deadline and on a smaller scale. Ribeiro for a player of similar value. I don’t think Bertuzzi, Tanguay or Luongo (despite rejecting his contract) are coming over anytime soon. That being said, Bob Gainey is a sneaky sneaky guy and who knows what else is up his sleeve.
This is a fresh start for the CH. Whether you liked Claude Julien or not, something had to change. As of today the Canadiens are a new team with a new direction and with this change right before their toughest stretch of the season, the Canadiens might contend again.