Michel Therrien fired, Claude Julien hired and the hockey world left with it's jaw hanging on the floor.
The announcement caught everyone by surprise on Tuesday and now there is already rampant speculation about what really happened to cause Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin to pull the trigger on such a drastic move mid-season.
First in Bergevin's own words:
"I would like to sincerely thank Michel for his relentless work with the Montreal Canadiens over his eight seasons behind the bench, including the last five seasons when we worked together. The decision to remove Michel from his coaching duties was a difficult one because I have lots of respect for him. I came to the conclusion that our team needed a new energy, a new voice, a new direction. Claude Julien is an experienced and well respected coach with a good knowledge of the Montreal market. Claude has been very successful as an NHL coach and he won the Stanley Cup. Today we hired the best available coach, and one of the league's best. I am convinced that he has the capabilities to get our team back on the winning track," said Bergevin via the Habs official website.
Based on the final part of Bergevin's statement it would appear that the Habs catastrophic month of February thus far weighed heavily on the mind of the Habs GM, however there may be more than meets the eye here.
During Prime Time Sports on Sportsnet's 590 the Fan, Sportsnet reporter Arash Madani stated that there were rumors Bergevin met privately with leaders in his locker room during the Habs recent road trip to Denver and Arizona. Michel Therrien was excluded from this meeting, leading to speculation that there may have been some sort of incident behind the scenes.
There were also comments from Mike Boon of the Montreal Gazette that stated he had heard speculation that this move may not have come from Bergevin at all. Canadiens owner Geoff Molson may have stepped in to make sure the Canadiens got arguably the best French-speaking head coach in the National Hockey League before someone else did.