January 14, 2006:
Carbo Named Habs Assistant; to be Head Coach

MONTREAL (CP) - Claude Julien was fired and general manager Bob Gainey took over as interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens today, with former Montreal captain Guy Carbonneau tabbed to become head coach at the end of the season.

Carbonneau, who was serving as assistant GM for the Dallas Stars, was hired as an associate coach and has already signed a contract to become head coach at season's end. Until then, he will work alongside Gainey and fellow associate coaches Roland Melanson and Doug Jarvis as the Canadiens look to end a slide that has seen them lose 18 of their last 25 games.

Gainey was on the ice for the team's morning skate to prepare for a game Saturday night against the San Jose Sharks. He said a change was sorely needed to wake up his struggling team. "We have to push back so that we're moving up the standings by putting points on the board, rather than the other direction," Gainey said at a news conference.

Carbonneau said the decision to return to Montreal, where he previously served as an assistant coach, was an easy one despite the fact he won't take over the head coaching reins until next season.

"I really enjoyed the experience when I came here five years ago, being behind the bench with (then-Canadiens coach) Michel Therrien," said Carbonneau, who has no head coaching experience. "I couldn't wait for a second chance to come back in a different position."

Gainey and Carbonneau, who played together in Montreal and worked together in Dallas, agreed to defer Carbonneau's appointment as head coach so he could develop a relationship with the players before taking over.

"I've been gone from here for three years," said Carbonneau. "I don't know a lot of the players that are here, so I think it would have been unfair for me to come in and try to control everything from the start."

Gainey said there was no reason for Carbonneau to make his head coaching debut in the midst of a tumultuous season.

"There really was no reason to drop him into a pot of boiling water when we can drop him in and warm it up gently," said Gainey. "Guy will grab on to where we are and where we're going and what is needed quickly."