Former Habs coach Therrien calls job ‘gratifying’ but also ‘thankless task’

Therrien gracious in first comments since firing

MONTREAL — Two days after being fired by the Montreal Canadiens, Michel Therrien says being an NHL coach is a tough job that is “gratifying on many levels but it can also quickly become a thankless task.”

In a statement released Thursday, Therrien said he understood why general manager Marc Bergevin made the decision to let him go and bring in Claude Julien.

“When a team is experiencing difficulties, any head coach knows his job is on the line,” Therrien said. “I understand and accept this reality.”

After starting the season 13-1-1, Montreal had hit a tough patch, going 2-6-1 over its last nine games.

Therrien, who struck a gracious tone in the statement, wished his successor the best.

“I leave with my head held high: I am very proud of the work accomplished over the past five years,” he said. “The current team can aspire to great honours, and I wish my colleague Claude Julien every success in the future.”

Julien was fired by the Boston Bruins last week.

Therrien was in his second stint as Canadiens coach. He originally held the post from 2000 to 2003 before being replaced by Julien. He returned behind Montreal’s bench for the 2012-13 season but the club missed the playoffs last year.

He went on to thank the Canadiens organization, Bergevin and owner Geoff Molson, adding that his dismissal in no way changes “my perception of the team and its management.”

Finally, he thanked the fans in Montreal and across Quebec and “the many players whom I had the privilege of coaching.”

The Canadian Press