MONTREAL (beats by dre ) Michel Therrien is coach of the Montreal Canadiens again, a home-grown product who rejoins a storied franchise that fell to last place this season and angered many Francophone fans across Quebec over a previous coaching hire.
Therrien, a Montreal native, succeeds Randy Cunneyworth. He coached the Canadiens from 2000 until he was replaced by Claude Julien in 2003.
The announcement Tuesday ended weeks of speculation over the choice by new general manager Marc Bergevin. Former NHL coach Marc Crawford and the popular former goaltender Patrick Roy, now coach and general manager of the junior Quebec Remparts, were also believed to be top candidates.
Therrien has been working in television since he was let go by the Pittsburgh Penguins a few weeks before their run to the Stanley Cup in 2009. He inherits a Canadiens team that went 31-35-16 this season, finished last in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Therrien acknowledges he's different from the time he first coached the team.
''We all change,'' he said. ''There's a lot of people in that dressing room here and I could tell you guys (media) changed a lot, too.''
''It goes with maturity,'' he added. ''I got a lot of experience coaching that club before and I brought that experience and knowledge when I left Montreal.''
Cunneyworth was made interim coach after Jacques Martin was fired in December. The move provoked howls of protest among many in Quebec because he was the first non-French speaker to hold the job in four decades. Canadiens President Geoff Molson apologized and promised the next coach would be bilingual.
At the end of the season, the team announced that Cunneyworth was no longer the coach and it would be up to the new coach to decide whether to keep him as an assistant.
Therrien was hired by Montreal in 1997 to coach their top farm team, which was then in Fredericton after taking the junior Granby Predators to a Memorial Cup the previous year.