|Posted by Landon Ewaniuk on June 5, 2012 at 3:55 PM|
The Montreal Canadiens announced on June 5 that hometown native Michel Therrien has been hired as the NHL club’s new head coach. Therrien is familiar with the league's most-ever successful franchise since he was also its head coach between 2000 and 2003. Therrien, who was fired by the Canadiens midway through the 2002/03 season, has currently being working as a television commentator with the RDS French-Canadian television network. He led the team to a 76-77-22-14 record before being let go and replaced with Claude Julien.
Therrien took Montreal to the playoffs in 2001/02 for their first postseason appearance in four years. After losing his job in Montreal, he was given a contract by the Pittsburgh Penguins organization to coach its American Hockey League (AHL) team in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. However, he was promoted to the NHL team three months into the 2004/05 season when the Penguins fired coach Ed Olczyk. Therrien’s team featured scoring star Mario Lemieux, who was playing in his final NHL season as well as Sidney Crosby, who was playing in his first as an 18-year-old.
Even with two of the best players in history in the lineup, Pittsburgh accumulated a meagre 58 points during the regular season and failed to make the playoffs. The following season, which was Therrien’s first full year with the team, the Penguins earned 105 points, but were eliminated by the Ottawa senators in five games in the first round of the playoffs. Ottawa then went on to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
Therrien led his club to the playoffs again the next year after they earned 102-points during the regular season. They made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, but the Detroit Red Wings beat them in six hotly-contested games. The Penguins fired Therrien in the 2008/09 season and Dan Bylsma was brought in to replace him. Bylsma took the squad back to the Stanley Cup Final against Detroit and won the Cup.
The 48-year-old Therrien’s overall record with Pittsburgh was 135-105-32 and his career record after 499 NHL games stands at 212-182-68. He replaces former coach Randy Cunneyworth, who was placed behind the Canadiens’ bench last December to fill in for Jacques Martin after he was fired by general manager Pierre Gauthier. Cunneyworth had been Martin’s assistant coach. However, the appointment of Cunneyworth caused an uproar with some fans and media types since he couldn’t speak French.
Gauthier was then fired by team owner Geoff Molson in March and was replaced as the club’s GM by Marc Bergevin. Montreal has missed the postseason in six of the last 13 NHL seasons and finished in 15th and last place this season in the league’s Eastern Conference. It was reported that Bergevin wanted to hire bob Hartley as the team’s new coach, but he signed with the Calgary Flames instead.
When the puck drops for the Canadiens’ first game next season it will be Therrien’s 1,001st professional hockey game as head coach combining his stints in the AHL and NHL.