In his first public statements since being dismissed on Tuesday, former Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien made it clear he wants the franchise to succeed under new bench boss Claude Julien.
"I would first like to thank the Montreal Canadiens organization, especially [owner] Geoff Molson and [general manager] Marc Bergevin, for the experience of five remarkable years," Therrien said through a press release on Thursday.
- Bergevin on Julien: 'With his track record he's a superstar'
- Wharnsby: Julien may need time to turn Habs around
"I leave with my head held high," he said. "I am very proud of the work accomplished over the past five years. The current team can aspire to great honours, and I wish my colleague Claude Julien every success in the future."
Under Therrien, the Canadiens opened the season with a 13-1-1 mark but have been listless over the last two months and have a 2-6-1 record in their last nine games. There was fear of another collapse like last season, when the club went from first place to out of the playoffs after star goalie Carey Price was injured.
Julien, 56, returns for his second stint as Montreal's head coach. He also took over after Therrien was fired for the first time in January 2003. Julien, who guided the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup title in 2011, was fired by the team on Feb. 7.
Therrien said he harbours no ill will for be being let go by the franchise, and acknowledges the pressure that goes with coaching a prestigious hockey club.
"The Montreal Canadiens have always been a great organization, and recent events in no way change my perception of the team and its management," said Therrien.
"Being an NHL coach is a tough job: it is gratifying on many levels but it can also quickly become a thankless task. When a team is experiencing difficulties, any head coach knows his job is on the line. I understand and accept this reality. I would like to thank fans in Montreal and across Quebec, as well as members of the media. I also salute the coaches and staff I have worked with over the years and, above all, the many players whom I had the privilege of coaching."