Canadiens bring back Therrien as head coach

The Montreal Canadiens have brought back Michel Therrien as head coach.

Therrien spent parts of three seasons as the team's head coach from November 2000 to January 2003, posting a regular-season mark of 77-77-36. He had just one full year behind the Montreal bench, in 2001-02, and helped the Canadiens end a three-year playoff drought.

"The fact of coming back to Montreal and the NHL excites me a lot," Therrien said. "My intention is to bring back intensity, pride and discipline."

Now, he'll again be charged with trying to revive one of the league's most storied franchises. The Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cup titles, but none since 1993, and just completed a season of constant change.

Montreal missed the playoffs for the first time in five years this past season, finishing 31-35-16 for an Eastern Conference-worst 78 points. Jacques Martin was fired as head coach just 32 games into the season and replaced by Randy Cunneyworth.

General manager Pierre Gauthier was then fired in late March and eventually replaced by Marc Bergevin in May. Bergevin, at his introductory press conference, said Cunneyworth would not be retained as head coach and went on to conduct a month-long search.

The Montreal Gazette reported that Therrien and Marc Crawford were the final two candidates.

"It's been a long process where there's been a lot of great candidates I talked to," Bergevin said. "They all have a lot of stuff to offer, but at the end of the day, I felt the best fit for me and the Montreal Canadiens was Michel Therrien. Michel brings leadership. He brings experience and success at all levels."

Therrien's most-recent NHL job was with Pittsburgh from December 2005 to February 2009. He had a record of 135-105-32 with the Penguins, leading the franchise to the Stanley Cup Finals in the spring of 2008.

The Montreal native first joined the Canadiens organization in June 1997 as a minor league head coach, then was promoted to the Montreal bench job three years later. The team improved by 17 points in Therrien's first full season of 2001-02 and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals.

After an 18-19-9 start in 2002-03, Therrien was fired and replaced by Claude Julien. He then joined the Penguins organization and was the head coach of the team's minor league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton before taking over in Pittsburgh in December 2005.

Therrien led the Penguins to a pair of 100-point seasons, the latter ending with an Eastern Conference championship in 2008. The Pens lost to Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals.

With the team off to a 27-25-5 start the following season, Therrien was fired and replaced by Dan Bylsma in mid-February. The Penguins went on to win the Stanley Cup that spring.

Before first joining the Canadiens, Therrien coached Laval and Granby in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, winning the Memorial Cup with Granby in 1996. He posted a .712 winning percentage in four seasons as head coach in the QMJHL.