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KELLEY: Canadiens fire coach Therrien

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Jim Kelley

 
   
 
And the sixth coach to be fired in the National Hockey League this season ... drum roll please ... Michel Therrien of the Montreal . FOXSports.com has confirmed that the Habs coach was given his walking papers Friday morning in Montreal, and general manager Andre Savard announced the decision at a news conference that afternoon. "It was a very difficult decision to take," Savard said in French at the Bell Centre. "I had confidence that the situation would get better, that we would start winning games. But it didn't happen." Savard said he made the decision after Thursday night's 4-1 loss to the in Philadelphia. It was the ninth straight loss on the road for Montreal, which has won just twice in its last 12 games. FOXSports.com told you last month that the fiery coach was in trouble and likely would not last the season. Replacing Therrien will be Claude Julien, coach of the team's American Hockey League affiliate, in Hamilton, Ont. Montreal shares that AHL franchise with the Edmonton . The other coaches to be fired this season before Therrien were Darryl Sutter (San Jose), Greg Gilbert (Calgary), Curt Fraser (Atlanta), Bob Hartley (Colorado) and Dave King (Columbus). Sutter and Hartley have been hired in Calgary and Atlanta, respectively. The rest remain unemployed, and Therrien is likely to be for the remainder of the season if not longer. The 39-year-old was one of the youngest coaches in the game when he was hired Nov. 20, 2000, to replace the fired Alain Vigneault. Last season he received a contract extension from Savard. He was said to be in trouble numerous times in his brief time behind the Montreal bench but won praise when he helped guide the Habs to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference last season. That was followed by an upset win over top-seeded Boston. Therrien, however, was often done in by a hot temper and poor technical decisions. It¿s widely believed he coached himself out of an opportunity to beat Carolina in the playoffs later that spring. He also got himself in hot what with the league when he vowed revenge on defenseman Kyle McLaren after a hit on Montreal forward . Therrien was in trouble with the league again this season when he was fined $25,000 for criticizing the work of referee Kerry Frasier during a game at New Jersey. Savard was also fined for his outburst, getting hit with a $50,000 tag. Therrien leaves the Habs with a record of 18-19-4-5 and ni 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two positions removed from a playoff berth. Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address, jkelley@foxsports.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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